There are copious choices in Hong Kong when it comes to restaurants serving omakase menus made with freshly imported Japanese ingredients. But to incorporate art, culture and aesthetics into a meal – only a few are able to offer such a special experience. Nagamoto is one of them.
Nagamoto is the eponymous restaurant of Chef Teruhiko Nagamoto, previously the head chef of two-Michelin-starred Kashiwaya. The restaurant lives by the notion of shun (local, seasonal food at the peak of perfection) while adopting techniques from kaiseki, the pinnacle of Japanese fine dining. Every detail matters under the capable direction of Nagamoto-san, from the calligraphy on the menu, to the flower arrangements in the dining area, to the selection and placement of the cutlery – all aiming to provide the most authentic Japanese dining experience possible.
The monthly-changing omakase menu (HK$2,680/person) at Nagamoto unfolds like a story, featuring interrelated courses that incorporate dozens of seasonal ingredients at the peak of their flavour.
Dashi tasting: the basic component of Japanese cuisine is dashi, a stock made from bonito and kombu. Before the meal commences, diners get to sample dashi in its purest form in order to experience the synergistic effect of the two ingredients. The flavour of the dashi is clean and light, with just a hint of umami to prevent it from overwhelming the main ingredients of each dish into which it is incorporated.
Sakizuke 1: presented on a crane-shaped plate that symbolises longevity, firefly squid from Toyama and yam and sawabi flowers from Shizuoka are gilded with a wasabi-vinegar miso sauce.
Sakizuke 2: this dish bursts with the signature bitterness found only in spring greens. Nagamoto-san manages to make the medicinal plants of canola and angelica enjoyable! Freshly ground sesame is drizzled on the lightly seared Hokkaido scallop, filling the dining room with an intense, nutty aroma.
Nimonowan: mebaru (rockfish) from Aomori is doused in dashi that is infused with the punchy and refreshing flavours of pepper leaf, ostrich fern and myoga (Japanese ginger). Because rockfish has firm flesh yet a mild taste, Nagamoto-san deep-fries it in a light batter to better release its flavours.
Mukōzuke 1: the condiments of the seasonal sashimi platter are shaped into a doll, celebrating Hinamatsuri, or Doll’s Day, in Japan. Tai (sea bream), thinly sliced ika (squid), shira ebi (white shrimp) and uni (sea urchin) are all of top quality, with karasumi (dried mullet roe) on the side for a twist of flavour and dose of extra umami.
Mukōzuke 2: this is so much more than the usual otoro and akami found at most sushi restaurants. The homemade leek soy sauce drizzled on the glistening fish is unforgettably impressive, while the shin tamanegi (new onion), which is sweeter and less pungent than normal yellow onion, adds a lot more depth to the dish.
Mukōzuke 3 (+HK$1,500 for 2): Ebisu lobster is prepared in two ways – one is eaten raw with caviar, while the other is lightly seared with creamy lobster roe.
Hassun: this course consists of three small dishes. The first is a deep-fried hamaguri (clam), symbolising a thriving relationship with your partner. The next dish is kuruma shrimp stuffed with caviar, while the third dish is colourful chirashi sushi with salmon roe, conger eel, shiitake mushroom and broad beans.
Yakimono: grilled A5 Miyazaki Wagyu. As simple as it might sound, Nagamoto-san brings this dish to a whole new level with his homemade sansho ponzu sauce. The punchy sauce cleverly dials down the oiliness of the Wagyu.
Hachimono: a simple yet hearty dish of sea bream cooked with yuzu, soy sauce, mirin, sake and a myriad of spring greens.
Gohan: this course was the highlight of our meal. The entire pot of rice is gilded with a thick layer of uni and shirasu (baby sardine). We recommend requesting socarrat (crispy rice) for some added textural contrast.
Mizumono: this is not your usual fruit platter! Artfully peeled and cut mango, orange, strawberry, blueberry and kiwi are paired in a yoghurt-like sauce made with white wine and cherry. Finally, freshly made traditional mugwort pancakes conclude the menu.
Nagamoto is highly recommended for those looking for an authentic kaiseki-inspired meal. Not only will you leave with a satiated stomach, but you will also gain new insights into Japanese culture and dining etiquette.
Where: 8/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central
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.