Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Long Awaited Sushi

It's been a good six month since we last had a proper sushi meal. When we were able to travel to Japan a few times a year, we often prefer eating sushi while we were away rather than having that in Hong Kong, but well, now we just have to settle with whatever we could until we are able to hit the road again. 

We are probably not the only people who think that way, as many decent Japanese restaurants now have a waiting list of 1-2 months, including Sushi Ikkon which opened its doors only a few months ago inside Crowe Plaza Causeway Bay. Our lunch booking in early March was confirmed more than a month ago before Lunar New Year, with the menu picked and payment made a couple of weeks in advance in order to confirm our seats for two at the counter. 

With the hoopla we needed to go through in order to eat here they'd better deliver, and I am glad they did. The restaurant sat inside the hotel sharing the same floor as two other Japanese restaurants under the same group, and right at the time of our reservation, through the door we were led into the dining area with an L-Shaped Counter which could sit 9 customers with Chef Inoue Wataru and his assistant making final preparation for our meal. I like the ambience, and probably more so if those people on the other end of the counter didn't treat the place like a hawker centre or steamboat restaurant.  

We went for the lunch omakase menu this time, with a number of otsumami courses served before moving into the sushi dishes. The pair of Kazunoko (herring roes) and baby Shako (Mantis Shrimp) - both served with a light drizzle of vinaigrette - started first with refreshing flavor, followed by the seasonal Hotaru Ika (firefly squids) with creamy texture, marinated in the rich soy sauce and served with pickled cucumbers on the side. Slices of sashimi were served in order - first the fatty kanpachi (amberjack) and then the saba (horse mackerel) from Shizuoka prefecture with the skin slightly torched. I like the firm texture of a fresh saba with a hint of smoky flavor. 

Chef Inoue then got his set up ready for the nigiri sushi courses. The milder shari worked well with the lighter pieces that we started with, like the Sayori (needlefish) from Chiba with a dab of daikon puree on top, or the Hotate (sea scallops) from Hokkaido. I love the Madai (red seabream) which has a distinct hint of sweetness, seasoned only by a brush of light soy sauce. Chef took his time and prepared the sushi one by one and served them as soon as he finished, and we appreciated the patience and dedication which showed on the taste of the dishes too. 

The flavor of the shari progressed slightly as we moved along to the richer pieces as the apprentice chef kept adding in new batches into the hinoki container. March is traditionally the month for Katsuo (skipjack tuna) when the fish made their north-bound journey along the Pacific coast off Shikoku (called Hatsu-katsuo). I like its firm texture more than its mild flavor. Aori Ika (bigfin reef squid) was another one with perfect texture - soft but a bit chewy and worked well with the lime juice seasoning. The trio of tuna were next – first the akami-zuke briefly marinated in the sauce and served with a brush of yuzu zest, then the fattier pair of chu-toro, one from the belly and one from the back cut. I enjoyed them all. 

The shellfish pieces were impressive too, including hokkigai (Arctic surf clams) and Kuruma Ebi (giant tiger prawn), and last but not least, the bafun uni served nigiri style with the chef handed us the piece and placed on the back of our hands. The ikura (salmon roes) was served in mini donburi style on a small porcelain cup with a nice clean flavor, having brined in salt water briefly, and we finished the meal with anago (sea eel), a pair of maki rolls, egg castella cake, soup and fruits as dessert. 

With travel still out of the question for considerable future, I am pretty sure we will be back soon for our occasional sushi craving. 

When? March 7 2021
Where? Sushi Ikkon, 1/F Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Causeway Bay, 1 Leighton Road, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? All the sushi! 

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