Thursday, February 16, 2023


Censu has been on my list of restaurants to visit for a while. Technically I have never been but I did try Chef Shun's cooking at a pop-up event a couple years ago right before the restaurant's opening. 

The restaurant and shop line-up on Gough Street has gone through so many changes for the past few years and I am glad a few new places have re-emerged on this enclave. Censu was somewhere in the middle of the street with the distinct facade completed with clay-colored wall, large window opening up to the street level, and the glass door with the traditional Japanese curtain outside. 

Surprised to see quite a buzzing crowd as I walked into the dining area - after all it was hardly after 6 then. The dining area was spacious and comfortable with a choice of seating - one could either be seated at the regular table, by the kitchen at the counter or taking up the seats at the high table with bar stool. I also liked the wall decoration of painting and cloth and plants - some commissioned piece by Japanese artists. 

The menu followed more of an izakaya style with a la carte menu categorized by the cooking method (raw, cook, fried, grill etc) but there are also omakase options available, including one with cocktail pairing options which was what we were having (introduced as part of the Anniversary Menu). Plenty of dishes went around for our group of 4 with a few drinks came in between. 

We started with raw oysters served on the shell with yuzu sanbaizu (rice vinegar vinaigrette) They were of good size (and came from Sendai) and I love its creamy texture and mild mineral flavor. Wagyu beef tartare was served in bite-sized portion on toast with Arima Sansho dressing on top for the hint of spicy kick. The two sashimi courses were presented in contemporary style with sauce underneath - I especially like the tuna, fatty, tender and well marinated. Ika “Yu Daan” was a play of the local street food of deep-fried fishballs, but instead, it’s done with squid with a refreshing celery and green apple puree underneath. 

Zucchini Flower is not a common ingredient used in Japanese cuisine, but I like the version Chef Shun did, stuffed with scallop, prawn and three cheese mousse, dipped in tempura batter and deep-fried. I could do with a lighter sauce rather than the truffle puree used but overall this was excellent. The black cod fillet was done in classic saikyo-yaki style with glaze of sweet miso on top, and then the wagyu zabuton was grilled, carved in thick slices and served with assorted Japanese mushrooms on top. Both were tasty. 

Pieces of Three Yellow chicken thigh and leg were served with celariac puree underneath. Chicken was perfectly roasted, well brined with a gentle basting of soy sauce on top so they came out juicy and flavorful. The "Uni-giri" was fun, with the crispy onigiri served with the abalone dashi underneath and uni and oba leaves on top, though I thought it's a bit too salty when the rice was quickly soaking up the sauce. The Yaki-udon was served with kani-miso (crab roes) mixed into the noodles with snow crab meat and egg yolk on top and you couldn't go wrong with such combination of rich umami flavor. 

We finished with two desserts - I personally like the caramel popcorn ice-cream served with corn flakes more than the mont blanc dango. Thought the sweet mochi didn't work as good as I expected with the chestnut mousse. Oh, chef also made a retail version of the miso ice-cream which we were able to try - it's loaded with umami and I love that savory sweet flavor. 

Three cocktails were served along the way but I thought they were a bit too mild for my liking. Maybe a good old chu-hi from a choice distillery or some interesting bottles of sake would have been more suitable for someone who expected more of a punchy drink at an izakaya. Just saying. 

(Meal was by invitation)

When? February 7 2023
Where? Censu, 28-30 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Zucchini Flower Tempura

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