From Le Comptoir Group comes a new kind of contemporary Japanese izakaya, featuring monochrome modern art pieces by Tomoo Gokita and live jazz. A culinary collaboration between Chef Sean Mell, who was previously the executive chef at NOBU Hong Kong, and Chef Kong Soo Do, whose most recent role was as chef de cuisine at hipster Korean restaurant Bib n Hops, Silencio’s menu offers a premium izakaya experience with a twist. There’s also a comprehensive sake menu full of brews from boutique labels.
Upon sinking down on plush chairs at the bar counter, our meal started with the Kumamoto tomato and Parmesan dashi ($130). Tomato and Parmesan cheese are full of umami, and this cool, soothing dish, accented with diced strawberries and shiso oil, was a refreshing bouquet of flavours.
Under the heading of “Pablo” is the coffee-cured hamachi with watercress purée and pickled shallot ($180). Hamachi sashimi is first sprinkled with sansho and coffee grounds before undergoing a 24-hour curing process wrapped in kombu. The fish is then smoked with coffee grounds to further enhance its flavour and tenderise the meat. Wasabi yoghurt dotted around chive oil and fresh pomelo finish the dish. We particularly enjoyed the sweet pomelo against the savoury sashimi.
A Caesar salad of sorts, the little gem salad ($130), tossed with house-smoked salmon roe, creamy yuzu dressing and onsen egg, was deliciously simple, although slightly overdressed; the leaves could have remained more crisp with less dressing.
The Sichuan roll with red prawn tempura and Sichuan aioli ($250) was a classic dynamite roll with a numbing, floral peppercorn twist, although not pronounced enough to make anyone’s eyes water (which is a good thing). The French nigiri sushi ($180 for 2), made with akamutsu (rosy sea bass), was topped with ribbons of foie gras – a true indulgence.
Simply termed “Russian” ($350 for 2), the nigiri arrived brimming with Osetra caviar and gold flakes. Although the sweetness of the rice was a nice contrast to the briny caviar, this sushi impressed our cameras more than our palates.
The Hokkaido scallop chargrilled in the shell with yuzu soy butter ($190 for 2) was a winner. The tangy flavour of yuzu offset the richness of the butter and the sweetness of the perfectly cooked scallop.
This dish isn’t yet on the menu, but we were happy guinea pigs trying the roasted kinki fish over ramp (wild leek) butter ($TBC). Dusted with algae powder over a blanket of fava beans, this was an imaginative dish, and we were especially impressed by the fava beans, which paired well with the mild, garlicky sauce.
Hong Kong has recently been hit by the katsu sando craze, and the Wagyu sando ($350) at Silencio is the real deal. Stacked between fluffy milk bread, Kewpie mayo and tonkatsu sauce, the A4 Miyazaki Wagyu was cooked to juicy, rosy perfection.
Sounding more like a dance than a dessert, the mango cha cha ($80), with coconut pancake, coconut sorbet, fresh mango and black sesame foam, was a delightful way to finish the evening. We liked the subtle sweetness of the cakey pancake against the creamy yet not overbearingly sweet coconut sorbet.
Silencio is a new take on the Japanese izakaya, and we enjoyed the moody ambience against the accompaniment of live jazz and the modern twists on time-tested classics. The vibrant flavours definitely made for an indulgent evening. This would be a good spot for those looking for something a bit different from the traditional izakaya experience or for newcomers to the Japanese food scene.
6/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, 2480 6569, book online
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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