As we undergo another summer without travelling, Yakinikumafia offers both a taste of premium Japanese beef and an airport lounge experience without a hefty side of quarantine. The restaurant, complete with a flip-board sign reminiscent of an airport flight-time display, has numerous design features that give it the look and feel of an airport lounge.
Chef de Cuisine Yohei Yamamoto helms the kitchen alongside Yakinikumafia founder Hisato Hamada. The two have crafted a series of new dishes to beat the summer heat. And, yes, the sizzling temperatures of Hong Kong extend well beyond September.
Our tasting menu included highlights from the signature omakase ($980/person) as well as seasonal dishes.
To start, we crunched into a crisp mountain of green pepper ($160) drizzled in Wagyusco dressing and topped with chewy, umami kombu. We’re not huge fans of green pepper, but these refreshingly sweet and aromatic emerald slivers were simply irresistible. This green pepper is grown in Miyazaki, near the Ozaki farm that supplies all the beef at Yakinikumafia.
A signature of the omakase experience is the Wagyu bone broth ($60), best described as a rich, creamy chowder packed full of hearty meatiness. We indulged in moderation because this bowl is definitely a calorie bomb.
A surprising highlight of the menu was this humble goma salad ($180), made with kale leaves in a fragrant sesame dressing. The leaves hold up well to the thick dressing, and we think this dish makes a great palate cleanser to the heavy meat.
A trio of accompaniments come with the various cuts of beef, ranging from the signature big eye sauce ($30), to daikon seeped in ponzu ($30), to pickled cucumber ($30). All three add flavour and textural contrast to the buttery beef.
We started with the senbon and eye of the knuckle, two cuts that are still incredibly tender and juicy despite their leanness. The senbon suji is the cut between the thigh and shank, while the knuckle has more connective tissue laced between the meat. We expected the knuckle meat, in particular, to be chewy, but the slices were melt-in-the-mouth tender.
The top blade, or misuji, is known as having the best marbling and is the most tender, central part of the chuck eye roll. Each cow only yields about three to four kilograms of the good stuff, making this cut highly prized.
The kata shin, or chuck eye, is more muscly and has rich marbling, coming from the shoulder and upper part of the foreleg; this cut has incredible flavour.
Both the top blade and chuck eye are considered fattier cuts and are definitely more indulgent, although we found the leaner cuts to actually have more flavour. As all these cuts are part of the omakase set, we are unable to provide individual prices for each.
A new way of serving Japanese beef, the Wagyu carpaccio ($180) is a thin layer of lean blade cuts topped with umami-heavy Parmesan shavings. The raw beef is clean, with no gamy aftertaste, and the rich flavour of the meat is further enhanced by the cheese. The crunch of coarse salt and pepper that garnishes the meat adds textural contrast.
The money shot! A headliner on the menu is the keema curry rice ($280), a gooey plate of rich Ozaki beef curry cascading over a mound of Japanese rice. The deeply aromatic beef mince is topped with a bright orange egg yolk, which is spread over the entire dish tableside.
The Hiyashi somen ($160) is available both as an à-la-carte item and as part of the omakase. Thin wheat noodles made with the finest flour from Hyogo Prefecture are served in an icy dashi broth that’s topped with delicate, wafer-thin slices of fresh lime. The lime adds refreshing acidity to this cooling, summery dish. These noodles are a great accompaniment to the grilled meats, but they are otherwise a tad bland on their own.
Our meal concluded on a sweet note with Hokkaido milk soft serve ($40) served in a crunchy cone. This ice cream melts super fast, so get slurping!
Given the name, one might think that this restaurant is primarily focused on grilled beef, though we found the side dishes and salads to be just as memorable as the prized Ozaki beef. Yakinikumafia offers balance with a mix of rich, indulgent meats and fresh greens, but with its steep prices, it's’probably better for your wallet to indulge here in moderation.
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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