Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Chicken Specialist

We are always on the lookout for new Japanese restaurants but this one caught my eyes in particular, promising an omakase experience with a chicken tasting menu ("Tori-kappo" is the term they used to describe the concept)

Kisho together with its neighbor Ushidoki were the pair of restaurants brought to Hong Kong by the group that opened the innovative (and successful) Ushidoki restaurant in Singapore. Both operating on a similar concept in offering authentic Japanese kappo dining experience while focusing on a single ingredient - Kisho the chicken, and Ushidoki, the beef. Kisho was the first to open its door in late June so that's the first one we managed to make a booking for one evening in July during their soft-opening period. 

I like the dark wooden decor of the restaurant giving it a somewhat old-school izakaya vibe and through the small entrance located in a commercial building in Central, we were led into the dining area which looked like a kitchen theater with a long U-shaped counter that can sit around 18(?) with the chefs working right in the middle with the charcoal grill further back so everyone can see the cooking action. 

A full-course tasting menu is the only one they offer at night (with a shortened one during lunch service, we were later told) and almost all dishes (15 of them not including desserts) are prepared with different parts and cuts of chicken, with the birds farmed in Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures in Kyushu. 

Starting off with a soup course seems unusual but maybe that's the way the chef wanted to showcase the ingredient. Served inside the lidded lacquer bowl was the clear chicken stock with minced chicken meatball, so a double dose of chicken flavor in one dish with the soup base amazingly rich. We did go back to a cold appetizer in our third course, with a couple slices of chicken breast done tataki-style, slightly charcoal grilled on the outside but still raw inside, and on top, tosazu jelly and grated karasumi (mullet roes) on top. The tosazu jelly with its mild acidity works well as the dressing and the grated mullet roes added a dimension of umami taste with the tender chicken meat. 

Quite a few courses were served yakitori-style throughout the evening, starting with Furisode, or the shoulder meat done skin-on and just salt as seasonings. Love how the skin was grilled super crisp and the meat tender and juicy. Not a lot of internal parts were served, to my surprise, with hatsu (heart) being the only one if I remembered correctly. It's perfectly done with nice bouncy texture and hint of smokiness. 

The other yakitori courses we had that evening included seseri (neck), sorinesu (chicken oyster), bonjiri (tail) and of course, the classic tsukune (minced mealball) served with egg yolk on the side. All of them were outstanding - the meat was perfectly cooked and seasoned just right, whether that be a light sprinkles of salt on top with the meat previously brined, or just a light dip in the tare sauce before serving. Towards the end of the dinner we were also served a couple more, including Teba (wing) and Momo (thigh). 

But what impressed me most was the few non-yakitori chicken dishes. I didn't think much of the sasami (tenderloin) served maki style with toasted nori and spoonful of ikura, but turned out it was lovely with that interesting contrast of texture and the burst in sea flavor in the mouth. The liver monaka was of the perfect tasting size, with two cute wafers and the smooth chicken live pate sandwiched in between like a tartlet.  

The most interesting of all was the chicken comb, or tosaka served with Kani Ankake (thickened crab sauce). Those little orange-colored comb was slow stewed in low temperature until it's softened (but retained a bit of a bite) and combined with the umami-rich gravy-like sauce thickened with potato starch. Somehow I found this comforting. The other dishes we had included namafu (wheat gluten) with dengaku chicken miso sauce, a palate cleanser of plum sorbet (served in a nice chicken bowl) and grilled zucchini with parmigiano reggiano cheese (seemed odd but guess they felt they need to balance with a veggie dish). 

We ended with another soup, this time a bowl of ramen with the most intense chicken soup, then vanilla icecream and egg pudding as desserts - see the chicken theme was still there til the end.  They being on soft-opening period meant we could bring our own wine. The junmai daiginjo from Miyagi Prefecture got weight on the palate, rich with well-balanced acidity and a hint of tropical fruits. 

The evening didn't go by without a mini drama which involved a drunk dude sitting next to us turning from being awkward and incoherent to rowdy to unconscious, but that aside, I like the lively atmosphere (sans that nuthead) and the food and dining experience - we will definitely be back. 

When? July 11 2022
Where? Kisho, Shop 2, 1/F, Manning House, 48 Queen's Road, Central
Menu Highlights? Slow-cooked Tosaka (com) in crabmeat sauce
Drink? Miyakanbai Junmai Daiginjo "Shisui" Extra Class - Kanbai Shuzo, Miyagi Prefecture

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