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With the rather odd name of... well... ODDS, this is the newest addition to LUBUDS Group’s extensive portfolio of bars and restaurants opened recently in Central. The restaurant features a holistic approach to Japanese cuisine that encompasses omakase, teppanyaki, yakitori, bar and even a café.
Despite a rocky 2020, LUBUDS has opened several outfits, including a revamped series of restaurants at 1881 Heritage, Palco at Ocean Terminal and PANO at West Kowloon Cultural District. ODDS is a celebratory name that reflects the group’s optimism towards the future, originating from the phrase “beating the odds”. A team of chefs headline ODDS, ranging from Washoku Executive Chef Kam Wah Au Yeung, to Executive Sushi Chef Kwok Cheung Ng, to Executive Sushi Sous-Chef Hiu Fai Siu.
Upon entry into the dark and mysterious space, guests are greeted by the glowing O Bar, inviting diners to first stop for a tempting libation. A motion-sensor door slides open to reveal the main dining room, with two counters, one dedicated to sushi and another to teppanyaki, flanking opposite sides of the room. For more intimate dining, there’s a separate sushi counter under the name Sushi Kou tucked away at the back that’s exclusively used for private gatherings.
We decided on a refreshing cucumber, bergamot, sake and sakura bitters concoction called Geisha ($148) and a custom-made chocolate martini to start, followed by a sugary melon shiso sour ($128) with a hint of yuzu and an off-menu Boulevardier.
Fresh produce is flown in from Japan five times a week along with other seasonal premium ingredients from around the world. The best way to enjoy the ODDS experience is through their tasting menus. However, as we wanted to sample the full range of the restaurant, we plucked various dishes from the many menus on offer. Our tasting is based on the general tasting menu priced at a dizzying $1,980 per person, with variations in between that we will try our best to price accordingly.
A tantalising bite to start our meal, the Hokkaido uni cone with avocado is a delicious play on two textures: creamy and crunchy. We particularly enjoyed the aromatic, crisp cone that adds notes of spice to the creamy combination of sea urchin and avocado.
The smoked otoro, which resembles well-marbled beef, is dry-aged for two weeks to produce a tender, melt-in-the-mouth texture and sharp, clean flavour. Presented in a smoke-filled dome that is unveiled tableside, the smoky, fatty tuna is accompanied by a luscious, velvety Shikoku egg and soy dipping sauce. The richness of the fish is offset by the briny soy and rounded out by the silky egg yolk.
Not your average tinned food, the Hida Wagyu and negitoro tartare is dressed in dollops of caviar and served with dried codfish crackers. We tasted more fish than beef; the tartare is very mild, with a clean aftertaste.
The tender abalone (+$300) comes with a creamy sauce made from the abalone’s own liver alongside a small rice ball. The rice ball is a delicious conduit to mop up any leftover sauce.
The beautifully folded sardine sushi is a low-carb affair with no rice, although we found the fishy flavour a bit too intense.
The sweet Hokkaido crab is dressed in tangy ponzu gelée and shiso flowers, adorned with edible gold. A light, refreshing and summery dish.
The foie gras and persimmon monaka comes in a small paper bag. It features the rich liver slow-cooked in house-made chicken broth, paired with dried Wakayama persimmon. A delicious combination of earthy brininess and sweet, jammy flavours, encased in a crisp monaka wafer.
The Hokkaido oyster is steamed in sake to accentuate its umami flavour, then topped with caviar and shiso flowers. A juicy, indulgent mouthful of briny deliciousness.
The amadai with its flash-fried, crispy scales is served in a herb-infused broth alongside a mellow-flavoured ginger flower. The richness of the fried fish is dialled back thanks to the botanical broth, which makes this dish feel light and refreshing.
Four options of Wagyu are on offer at ODDS: Hida A5, Saga A4, Miyazaki A4 and SRF Wagyu. For the teppanyaki beef roll, thin slices of Miyazaki A4 are chosen for the beef’s butteriness. The grilled beef is rolled around an abundance of green onion and garlic for the ultimate indulgent bite. The dense, brioche-like bread at the bottom soaks up all the juices. We were very tempted to finish the entire slice!
The clear broth features silky ainame fish with slippery morsels of mushroom, tender, sweet asparagus, fragrant yuzu peel and mitsuba greens. The intensely aromatic mitsuba and yuzu add punchy accents to an otherwise subtle broth.
We sampled a variety of yakitori skewers, including crown, tendon, oesophagus, calf muscle, tail and neck. All the poultry used are local San Huang chicken, although we felt the skewers lacked juiciness and were rather rubbery. The yakitori offerings are probably the weakest of all the cooking disciplines offered at ODDS.
Redemption came in the form of crispy chicken-skin donburi. A mountain of minced ginger and green onion is heaped over chicken-oil-infused rice, topped with crunchy chicken skin slow-grilled for 40 minutes until it’s golden and crispy. The fat drippings from the chicken skin are infused into the ginger and green onion and dolloped over plump kernels of Koshihikari rice from Niigata.
A very delicate affair, silky slow-poached monkfish liver is layered over tender daikon, with wasabi adding a pungent contrast to the rich, creamy liver.
By this point, we had no space left for a big dessert, so we opted for a light finish of syrupy-sweet musk melon and Kyoho grapes.
Offering an extensive array of Japanese gastronomic delights, ODDS is a one-stop shop for premium dining, although we have an affinity for the more intimate affairs of smaller-scale, highly specialised restaurants that focus only on one cuisine genre. No matter, ODDS certainly has plenty of splash to impress the after-work well-heeled Central crowds.
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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