First Look: East-Meets-West Izakaya Bites at Brooklyn Yakuza 

First Look: East-Meets-West Izakaya Bites at Brooklyn Yakuza 

Cocktail lounge Oyabun and guest DJ sets to debut soon

by:  
Celia Hu  Celia Hu  on 19 Nov '21


With menu headings like “Booty Call”, “Baller” and “OG Fuel”, you know it’s going to be a late-night kind of joint. Nestled smack dab in the middle of Lan Kwai Fong is Brooklyn Yakuza, a Japanese-American izakaya that is really two concepts in one. The ground floor is a cocktail bar called Oyabun, which translates from the Japanese to literally mean “supreme leader of the yakuza”. Upstairs is the main restaurant, featuring East-meets-West izakaya dishes. There’s a second bar upstairs dedicated to the restaurant’s extensive sake list, where guests can sip from glass cups handmade by co-owner Arron Rhodes.

Brooklyn Yakuza is the third addition to Showmen Group, co-founded by Chef Rhodes and Chef Chris Grare, joining a portfolio that includes Kinship and Smoke & Barrel.

At the helm of the kitchen is Chef Lorcan Tang, a Irish native with local roots. He trained with two-Michelin-starred chef Kevin Thornton in Dublin before heading to Hong Kong to work with Chef Rhodes at Gough’s on Gough. Chef Tang subsequently went on to work in the kitchens of The Pawn, Octavium and Bayfare Social at Rosewood Hong Kong before heading up Brooklyn Yakuza.


At the time of our tasting, Oyabun hadn’t officially opened, but we were able to sample one of the cocktails, Sapporo Snow ($98), in the main restaurant. The mixture of gin, coconut water and pandan is refreshing and makes for very easy drinking. The red cherry in the middle of the large block of ice pays homage to the Japanese flag.

The beef tartare ($168), made with Australian Wagyu with dollops of miso egg yolk, is accompanied by crunchy tapioca crackers. The rich egg yolk adds creaminess to the beef, and we especially liked the pops of heat added by the pickled ginger cubes.


The NYC spicy tuna ($158) is a small dish of sushi rice layered with tuna cubes tossed in spicy mayo, accented with crunchy pickled vegetables, roe and seaweed. We wished that the spice level could be dialled up a notch to give this dish a real kick.


The BFC karaage ($108) is sweet and sour in flavour, drizzled with Okinawan black sugar. It reminded us of a mix of Korean fried chicken and Chinese-style sweet-and-sour pork.


The crab croquettes ($118) are indulgent fried morsels dolloped with yuzu cream. These definitely would pair well with a few drinks.


The Japanese fries ($88), made with nagaimo, or Japanese mountain yam, are dusted with nori and served with a spiced aioli. These might look like fries, but they have a very crisp crunch and are packed with vitamins and minerals.


The black cod ($198) bean-sprout “risotto” is a carb-free indulgence without the guilt factor. The buttery cod has a sweet glaze and sits atop cut bean sprouts that resemble risotto rice. Edamame and a cream sauce complete the dish.


The Okinawa pork loin ($228) with smoked cherry tomato sits on a bed of flavourful togarashi sauce. We really liked the sauce, but we wished that the pork had been more tender.


The Wagyu beef cheek ($268) comes with a roasted garlic and orange glaze, topped with water-chestnut chimichurri. The beef was flavourful and incredibly tender, and the refreshing crunch of the water chestnut helped to break up the richness of the meat.


Inspired by Chef Rhodes’ travels to Japan, the Ishigaki pineapple soufflé ($88) comes with a side of house-made pineapple gelato. A must for pineapple lovers, especially as the gelato contains minced pineapple to really maximise the flavour.


The chocolate cake ($88) features layers of milk chocolate mouse and yuzu custard, served with tuiles made of puffed rice.


Verdict

We can definitely see this joint being a popular late-night hang-out, especially after the downstairs lounge starts pumping with guest DJ sets. The dishes are made for sharing, and they’ll go down easy with the sake and creative cocktails.


G/F & 1/F, LKF 29, 29 Wyndham Street, LKF, Central, 2866 1034, 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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Celia Hu

Celia Hu

Editor-at-Large, Jetsetter Food Nomad