Autumn is the season for gourmands to revel in the harvest of two of the culinary world’s most coveted delicacies: hairy crab and Alba white truffle. So just imagine if these two revered ingredients could be combined in one formidable menu! At refined Kyushu-style restaurant Sushi Hakucho in Tsim Sha Tsui, this fantasy becomes reality with a limited executive omakase menu featuring Jiangsu hairy crab and the “white gold” of northern Italy. Available from now until mid- to late December (pending supply), this menu features autumn’s most coveted harvests, from East to West.
Named after the Japanese word for “white bird” or “swan”, elegant Sushi Hakucho is a minimalist 30-seater awash in pale wood. A U-shaped counter wraps around the chef’s work station, offering 14 lucky guests ringside views of all the action. Part of Bird Kingdom Group’s diverse range of F&B outfits, which includes Greater China Club, UMAI, Rustico, Ramen Cubism and Peony Garden, Sushi Hakucho offers elevated omakase in an intimate setting.
At the helm of the kitchen is Chef Harada Makoto, a Kumamoto native (the capital of Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu) with decades of experience in refined Japanese cuisine. Makoto-san spent 17 years as the head chef at several well-established hotels on the outlying island of Amakusa, including a residency at Amakusa Kokusai Hotel and his own Nagatomi restaurant.
Adding a personal touch to the menu, special Hinohikari rice from Kyushu is used, known for its mellow aroma and less sticky texture. The seaweed used comes from Makoto-san’s wife’s family business, one of Japan’s leading producers of seaweed.
Our tasting was based on the lunch Botan menu ($1,298/person), but with added flourishes from the seasonal hairy crab and white truffle menu. This speciality menu is available as an add-on supplement of $1,200 when guests order the Shippo dinner menu ($1,680/person).
Our not-so-humble lunch began with an appetiser made up of ribbons of raw fish tossed in a light, miso-based sauce, topped with vinegary ikura. A subtly tart dish and a great way to whet the appetite.
Next up, two giant chunks of beautifully marbled otoro topped with mashed Japanese yam and a sprig of shiso flowers. The mashed yam has a sticky, slimy (in the best sense of the word) texture similar to okra, offering a unique textural contrast to the crunchiness of the sliced Japanese yam at the bottom of the dish. In between are the thickest otoro slices we’ve seen thus far at a Japanese restaurant. Actually, the fatty tuna cuts are best described as chunks rather the slices owing to the generous portions, giving way to indulgent, succulent bites that simply melt in the mouth.
We’re not usually fans of big oysters, preferring smaller varieties that lean towards a creamier and sweeter taste profile. However, the large Makaki oyster at Sushi Hakucho is nothing short of delicious. The huge, juicy shellfish is sweet and creamy, with a very clean aftertaste. A subtle ponzu sauce helps to further highlight the sweetness of the oyster.
This dish arrived in a flurry of Japanese, so we couldn’t quite catch the name of the shellfish, but we would compare this chewy yet crunchy sashimi to being similar to aoyagi (surf clam). Sweet with just a touch of tart zing from the citrus slice at the bottom of the plate.
One of the dishes on the speciality menu, the Kumamoto A5 Wagyu with Shanghai hairy crab roe miso and Alba white truffle utilises “red Wagyu” from Kusunoki Farm on Kyushu Island. This farm is home to the only free-grazing Wagyu in Japan, producing a leaner, more flavourful beef. The thin slices of beef are first dipped in bubbling shabu-shabu, cooled, then rolled around batons of Japanese yam. Aromatic white truffle, shaved tableside, and umami-rich hairy crab roe add to the robust symphony of flavours.
Our favourite grilled fish, this coveted kinki fish has sticky, caramelised skin and buttery flesh. The long stalk of pickled ginger is a refreshing palate cleanser alongside the rich fish.
Silky chawanmushi (steamed egg) with big chunks of chicken and shiitake mushroom is a mellow interlude before yet more beef.
Another dish from the speciality menu, the Kumamoto A5 Wagyu carpaccio with Shanghai hairy crab and white truffle is served alongside a blend of vegetables, hairy crabmeat and roe. The hairy crab and veg blend is sprinkled with aromatic white truffle oil, just in case the freshly shaved truffle isn’t enough for your liking. The paper-thin slices of beef are tender yet retain robust flavour and a hearty chew. This beef has much more flavour (most likely owing to its relative leanness) than typical Wagyu.
The array of expertly pressed sushi includes kinmedai, akagai (ark shell), chutoro and prawn (clockwise from top left). The prawn is especially impressive; the head fat is brûléed and then served atop the prawn sushi, giving it an extra hit of umami.
An assortment of sushi ranging from buri (yellowtail), akamutsu (rosy sea bass) with cod liver, aburi hotate (grilled scallop), aburi otoro and akami tuna (clockwise from top left) comes next.
The pièce de résistance is the nori tempura topped with a tiny ball of rice, negitoro and a cascade of uni. We particularly enjoyed the crunch of pickled radish in the creamy negitoro. The crispness of the nori against the chew of the rice and creaminess of the negitoro and sea urchin is pure culinary euphoria.
Warabimochi dusted in matcha and green tea ice cream rounded off our decadent meal.
This speciality menu at Sushi Hakucho is worth the splurge, and we think some of the menu options are actually quite reasonably priced considering the high quality of premium ingredients used. Lunch here starts at just below $500, and then, of course, it all goes upwards from there. An unexpected, delicious discovery.
Shop G13, G/F, Harbour Pinnacle, 8 Minden Avenue, TST, 2109 1155
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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