French-Japanese restaurant (a bit of a thing now, n’est-ce pas?) Marble at Causeway Bay’s Crowne Plaza hotel bills itself as a “kappo” – think of this as the Japanese term for the French bistro concept, a more laid-back dining option falling somewhere between a fine dining restaurant and a café. “Kappo” also refers to a multi-course meal, but not one as refined and elaborate as omakase or kaiseki. In our opinion, Marble is more upscale in decor than your average lunch spot but still relaxed in its approach. There’s a long, dimly lit bar where you can watch the teppanyaki chefs in action and two more private dining rooms.
Since opening last summer, Marble has served up its signature nine-course Ozaki Wagyu dinner set, but that may be a bit of overkill (and expense) for most at lunchtime. So we were excited to try the restaurant’s three new lunch sets, which are indulgent yet abbreviated (the more expensive Marble Deluxe and Marble lunch sets at $980 and $620 are still available).
First up is the beef gozen set ($288), made with Australian Wagyu harami (skirt steak) for strong flavour and a pleasantly chewy bite. The onsen egg that accompanied this don made for a luscious coating for the beef slices and rice.
Light and refreshing shrimp salad with asparagus, fresh herbs and yoghurt dressing
Uni (sea urchin) sushi
Australian Wagyu harami
Amadai two ways
The five-course set ($368) consists of a seasonal salad, sushi of the day, Ozaki beef consommé, a choice of main course – amadai (tilefish) two ways, Australian Wagyu beef harami with Japanese fried rice or botan ebi (shrimp) pasta – plus coffee and dessert. Although the beef was certainly excellent, we’d recommend the amadai. Chef Stone Chan, formerly of Michelin-starred IM Teppanyaki & Wine, and his team have achieved the nigh-on impossible: tender, flaky fish beneath crispy scales. Other teppanyaki chefs have tried and failed; usually the scales are limp and/or the flesh is hard and dry.
For us, the lunchtime winner was the A4 Wagyu cutlet sandwich ($288 à la carte; $388 as part of lunch set). Thick slices of supremely tender and well-marbled Kagoshima beef were coated in a crust and deep-fried to medium rare, then sandwiched between slices of fluffy, toasted Japanese milk bread, along with the chef’s secret shallot-laced sauce. After eating one of these sarnies – the perfect combination of sweet and savoury – you’ll never look at Pret the same way again.
Marble is a hidden gem for us. Despite being open for nearly eight months, we hadn’t heard much about this Wagyu den – we hope that’s about to change. The ingredients used in the lunch sets are all top quality, prepared by clearly very skilled chefs. And while the prices are higher than the standard lunchtime sets around town, they are reasonable and worth it given the quality.
We’ll leave you with some trivia. Marble is the only restaurant in Hong Kong that serves Ozaki beef. If you’re a meat connoisseur, you may know that Ozaki is the only type of Japanese Wagyu named after the farm/farmer where the cattle originate, unlike other types that are named after their Japanese prefectures. These cattle are reared for longer on healthy, all-natural feed, resulting in meat that is intense in flavour but that has a lower melting point – so it’s not nearly as cloying as other Wagyu, where one bite will often suffice.
1/F, Crowne Plaza Hong Kong, 8 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, 2650 8988
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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