There are Japanese restaurants aplenty in Hong Kong, especially in Causeway Bay, but we certainly never tire of trying out the new. The latest to hit this eating hotspot is Akikan Robatayaki, taking over the top two floors of CUBUS, located in the less hectic area of CWB.
Its concept is indeed centred around robatayaki, which constitutes skewers slow-cooked over a hot charcoal grill. The indoor barbecue is the centrepiece of the dining experience, and everyone sits around it taking in the aroma of their food getting ready for eating. The moody top floor has a 16-person bar with grill-side seats to view the action, as well as several booths for a more intimate affair. A trip down the animated staircase, alive with koi underfoot and falling maples leaves, connects to the downstairs-level sushi bar, where they've opted to go back to basics and chill the fresh fish, flown in daily from Japan, on eight inches of ice to retain its natural flavours.
In the kitchen, they've scored Hiroshima-born chef Kenji Sugihara, formerly of Sushi Hiro, whose personal touches, homemade sauces and attention to detail heighten every dish.
We started out with a chilled aubergine dish adorned with edible flowers and beautiful flavours for a light, fresh opening to the meal.
Next came a trio of Hokkaido scallop, rosy sea bass and tuna sashimi in an ikebana-like display that always feels punishing to destroy.
Proud chef Kenji Sugihara with his rosy sea bass
We then popped the lid on Chef Sugihara's favourite, eel turned into an aromatic broth with cucumber and subtle citrusy pops of yuzu peel that owned a gorgeous slick and jellied texture thanks to the union of ingredients so thoughtfully joined up in this dish.
From the heavenly scents of the robata we were fully prepped for the luscious skewers of cubed Wagyu beef, a perfect split of moisture and smokiness, a crunchy bite of breaded eel and a generous treat of flavourful Hokkaido king crab with a dollop of yuzu miso. A yuzu kosho chilli paste, homemade by the chef, paired with the eel for several powerful, peppery bites.
Chef Sugihara uses a special oil for his tempura to make it a lighter, airier batter that let the flavour of the giant edo bean, shrimp and crab shine through. A side of his own mix of green-tea salt made for ideal seasoning that we couldn't stop sampling.
A sweet dish of steamed snapper with sake and mushroom overlaid on a thick carpet of kombu seaweed was such a healthy and superfood-filled dish, we felt it could cancel out any indulging we may have chosen for later on.
Another beautiful plate appeared, this one of Edomae-style sushi of anago (saltwater eel), kohada fish and fatty tuna, with flavours ranging from light to richly flavourful, and a sushi rice made with no sugar and an almost sour taste that was in perfect complement to the fish atop.
We then downed a gorgeous bowl of red miso soup before silently and appreciatively sinking our spoons into a plum wine jelly topped with a couple of pretty specks of gold leaf and a plum suspended in its midst. The plum was so tender that the spoon sliced right through it.
The finale came in the form of a visit to the rooftop bar alight with muted neon and stunning views of the city. DJs will be booked in the coming months, so this particular rooftop can become a hot-ticket choice for late-night boozing.
Fully sated and elated from a decadent, fun and sake-filled evening, we recommend a seat at the robata bar, several glasses of the Masumi Karamuchi Gold sake and anything the chef wants to cook for you. However, the prices are on the steep side, and it would be hard to escape with the full experience without spending over $1,000 per head, with veg dishes ranging from $35–70 a plate, chicken $40–140 and meat and fish $120–600 (the latter is for the Shiro-grilled Japanese eel) and a couple dishes reaching up to the $1,200 and above mark. This is a restaurant made for spending and indulging on fine ingredients, prepared excellently, and having an uproarious time while doing it.
27/F and 28/F, CUBUS,1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay, 2562 3121
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation.