The newest addition to Hong Kong’s kushiyaki scene is a restaurant that forays into the fantastical world of Japanese manga. Yokai, named after The Book of Yokai by manga artist Shigeru Mizuki, opened its doors just two weeks ago.
The restaurant is split between two counter spaces, one dedicated to kushiyaki and the other to sushi. The main dining space sits between these two counters and is adorned with floating paper lanterns that change colour depending on the time of day, as well as LED-lined walls displaying the ever-changing manga artworks of Mizuki. There are also two cosy private dining rooms and a narrow, al-fresco balcony for the cooler months.
Chef Okuma Hirofumi is at the helm of the kushiyaki counter, bringing a taste of authentic Japanese charcoal grill with his 20 years of experience in the kitchen; he spent over 10 years just perfecting his techniques in yakitori. The Kyushu native was previously part of OBU Company, a Japanese restaurant group with several Michelin-starred restaurants within its portfolio.
The specialities at Yokai range from charcoal-grilled kushiyaki and yakitori to sashimi donburi. The bluefin tuna they use is from the same premium supplier, Yamayuki, as that of three-Michelin-starred Sushi Saito.
Both kushiyaki and yakitori involve skewers being cooked over heat, with yakitori specialising in parts of the chicken and kushiyaki being made with a variety of ingredients.
We couldn’t pass up the chance to revel in the glory of premium bluefin tuna, so we selected the prime fatty tuna donburi ($368) to commence our tasting. The delicately marbled fish is melt-in-the-mouth tender, pairing well with a dash of light shoyu and nori-speckled rice.
Because we’re gluttons for punishment, we wanted to try as many textures of Yamayuki’s tuna as possible. The five kinds of Yamayuki tuna sashimi donburi ($468) scratches that itch, showcasing a sumptuous array of various tuna cuts. We thoroughly enjoyed every bite of the distinct textures and flavours, ranging from lean akami to fatty otoro. Because of this contrast in flavour and texture, we preferred this bowl to the decadent but homogeneous flavours of the prime tuna donburi.
Just look at this beauty!
On to the charcoal grill, our eyes popped with all the tantalising options on offer. The premium pork roll with egg ($45) is a standout. A thick rasher of bacon is wrapped around a soft-boiled egg, then grilled to perfection under a thick coating of syrupy soy sauce – need we say more? Due to its sizeable girth, this skewer has to be cut to be enjoyed, unless you’re skilled at popping pipping-hot whole eggs wrapped in bacon into your mouth in one go! The flavours are nothing short of euphoric; the combination of velvety, oozing egg, savoury pork and sweet soy is a dynamite package.
On the yakitori side, which deals only in chicken parts, we opted for organ meats because we feel they are the best indicators of the quality of a yakitori restaurant. Organs are easily overcooked, and if not prepped well and of the freshest quality, they will have lingering hints of gaminess and a rubbery texture. Yokai uses a variety of chicken types, including Saga Mitsuse, Kagoshima Satsuma Akadori and local HK yellow chicken.
The chicken liver ($42) is glazed in Yokai’s signature sweet soy, featuring beautiful caramelisation and a tender texture, without a hint of gaminess.
The chicken heart ($38) also comes brushed with the eatery’s signature sweet sauce and is bouncy and juicy.
In our opinion, the best parts of a chicken are the oysters. In French, the oysters are called sot-l'y-laisse, which translates to “only fools leave it there”. The chicken oysters ($50) at Yokai come with grilled segments of scallion and are flavourful and succulent, with crispy skin. We could have easily polished off a couple of these skewers.
Do yourself a favour and make a reservation here pronto; we foresee Yokai being the new hotspot for all things grilled and Japanese. In addition, they have a premium sashimi selection to satisfy the rest of your Japanese food cravings. We’ve also heard there’s an extensive sake collection. We’ve already reserved a return visit!
23/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central, 2368 8331
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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