Adding to Harbour City’s illustrious line-up of fine Japanese restaurants, including HAKU and Sushi Tokami, is Sushi Hisayoshi, the new Hong Kong outpost of celebrated chef Hisayoshi Iwa. The chef is renowned for his Edomae-style omakase menus at his Tokyo-based Ginza Iwa, and he now aims to bring the same brand of delectable premium Japanese cuisine to Hong Kong via his protégé, Chef Tsukasa Kaneko.
Chef Kaneko has over 13 years of culinary experience in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand. He began his culinary career at Tokyo’s Sushi Izu and has subsequently worked at notable restaurants such as Sushi Kanesaka in Tokyo, Sushi Iwa in Hong Kong and Mizumi at Macau’s Wynn Palace.
The four omakase menus on offer feature jet-fresh seafood selected from Chef Hisayoshi’s trusted suppliers in Tokyo, Kyushu, Shikoku and Hokkaido. Signature dishes include fermented otoro, shirako tempura, soft-braised octopus, marinated scabbardfish, baby tuna and monkfish liver.
Upon walking into the intimate venue, guests are enveloped in soothing pale wood accents and calming neutral tones. Designed by Junzo Irikado, who also designed Sushi Saito in Hong Kong, the space is dominated by a 30-seat sushi counter made from 250-year-old Japanese cypress wood. Only counter seating is available, giving each guest prime-time views of all the action.
Although our tasting was at lunchtime, the 19-course Kazabana omakase menu ($1,180/person) is extensive and impressive enough for an elaborate dinner. A starter of house-made corn tofu whetted our appetite. The texture of the tofu is bouncy with a slight chew, reminding us of mochi. The hearty texture helps to prolong the lingering flavours of corn and cream on the palate.
A signature dish of Chef Hisayoshi, the grilled baby tuna is topped with minced daikon and garlicky chives in a slightly acidic sauce akin to ponzu. A hint of smokiness from the grill marries well with the robust sauce.
Another signature dish, the soft-braised octopus makes for quite a show, with the chef carefully unwrapping the tentacle and slicing up portions in front of us. The octopus is soft-boiled, frozen, then cooked with a mixture of radish, sweet mirin and soy, resulting in a delicately sweet and tender texture.
The shirako tempura in white wine sauce is another signature dish, featuring lightly battered white cod milt fried to perfection, with a golden crunch and a gooey, creamy centre. We’re not usually fans of shirako, but the creamy and buttery white wine sauce helps to balance the flavour of the milt. However, the black truffle on top was devoid of any aroma.
Specially crafted wooden boxes are used to age sashimi and enhance flavour.
From top left clockwise: hirame, akami, shima-aji, fermented chutoro
Special mentions go to the akami (lean red tuna) marinated in soy and red wine and the fermented chutoro (medium fatty tuna), which both have heightened flavour thanks to the marinades used.
From top left clockwise: otoro, baby sea bream, aji, ikura
The fermented otoro, a signature dish, is first marinated for two weeks in a maturation cabinet to enhance its umami flavour. This type of preservation technique was commonly used before the age of refrigeration and is still popular at fine-dining Japanese establishments in order to heighten the taste of sashimi. The fatty tuna is then seared with binchotan to give it a charred, smoky aroma.
There are quite a few marinades used in the ageing of various cuts of fish, including an egg yolk and vinegar marinade for the baby sea bream and a ginger-garlic glaze for the aji (horse mackerel). The ikura (salmon roe) was less briny than expected, with the robust flavour of roasted seaweed permeating the rice.
Ruby spears of boiled Kuruma prawn were deshelled in front of us and pressed onto small morsels of rice. Toothsome bites with plenty of hearty chew and sweetness.
From top left clockwise: braised conger eel, uni, grilled hokkigai
Both the braised conger eel and hokkigai (scallop) were sweet and delicate, while the generous portion of uni (sea urchin) was rich and creamy.
A good tamagoyaki at a refined Japanese restaurant always tastes more like cake than omelette, and Sushi Hisayoshi’s version is no exception. The fluffy, cake-like egg has a creamy texture thanks to the addition of minced prawn.
Miso soup, pear and persimmon followed as a conclusion to the meal.
We couldn’t pass up the chance to try the curiously flavoured wasabi ice cream. Made in-house and served on a monaka shell, the ice cream has the zingy bite of wasabi without going overboard. The refreshing wasabi flavour makes for a memorable palate cleanser.
Sushi Hisayoshi is a refined sushiya that pays tribute to the time-tested traditions of Edomae-style sushi. We particularly enjoyed the various marinades used in the sashimi-ageing process. This is not your everyday sushi, but it is something to be enjoyed and savoured for all its complexity on a special occasion. Lunch is priced from $780–$1,180, while dinner starts at $1,780, so a meal here is definitely a treat.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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