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Since we can’t easily travel to Hokkaido right now, we headed to Obihiro Hageten for the next best thing. Founded in 1934 by Shoroku Yano in Obihiro, Hokkaido, it’s safe to say the restaurant brand has quite a bit of experience doling out authentic Hokkaido specialities. Hong Kong is the first international outpost for Obihiro Hageten, having arrived here in 2016 at its current location at ELEMENTS shopping mall.
The menu here revolves around kyodo ryori, a Japanese term for local specialities. Each of the 47 prefectures in Japan has its own unique variety of kyodo ryori, and Obihiro Hageten recently unveiled a new à-la-carte menu featuring regional delicacies, using jet-fresh ingredients from Japan.
Since our tasting was at lunchtime, we began with an assorted seared sashimi rice bowl lunch set ($268) that was brimming with fresh scallop, tuna, salmon, prawn and crab. The seafood was incredibly fresh, and we particularly enjoyed the seared chutoro and scallop. The prawn had plenty of rich head fat, although when eaten raw, it was a tad on the ripe side. The sweet crabmeat went well with the slightly vinegary rice, although we weren’t huge fans of the accompanying crab butter, which was a bit fishy for us. The lunch set also comes with a crisp green salad, miso soup, pickles and a sweet mochi.
The hirami with yuzu and onion sauce ($148) was our favourite dish of the meal. The freshness of the hirami (flounder) could rival those at any omakase restaurant, and we loved the pops of briny ikura (salmon roe) and refreshing yuzu accents. A perfect dish for the summer heat.
The grilled turban in sake ($98) is presented with a flourish in a sea snail shell, although we found the shellfish to be rather rubbery and tasteless. The sake didn’t add anything to enhance the flavour of the shellfish either.
The grilled scallop ($138) was a welcome victory after the disappointing turban. The plump, juicy Hokkaido scallop was grilled to perfection and drizzled with an addictively aromatic butter sauce. We also enjoyed the chew of the scallop skirt, which is served alongside in the shell.
A cosy dish that always reminds us of après-ski in Hokkaido, the soup curry with Junwakei chicken lunch set ($158) uses a rich, turmeric-infused curry packed full of tender vegetables the likes of okra, carrot, shiitake, pumpkin, potato and aubergine. Finished off with a touch of heat, this hearty meal reminded us of all the relaxing evenings spent at snow-covered izakayas after long days on the slopes.
Finally, the grilled Itsukaichi pork belly with spring onion skewer ($38) was juicy and packed full of garlicky deliciousness. All we were missing were some icy pints of Sapporo draught.
There are plenty of fancy omakase Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong, but for comfort eating, Obihiro Hageten hits the spot. The seafood is incredibly fresh, and the cooked dishes are well executed. Efficient, delicious Japanese food with none of the fancy gesturing or pretension.
Shop 2103–05, 2/F, ELEMENTS, 1 Austin Road West, TST, 2196 8310
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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