In Hong Kong, new Japanese restaurants seem to open all the time. The ones I hear about are usually concentrated in Central, Causeway Bay or TST, but recently I had the opportunity to try out one further afield in Kowloon Bay. My company has an office in Kowloon Bay, so I’d been to the area twice before, but otherwise I don’t usually venture that way. That might soon be changing as the area is experiencing a resurgence. Earlier this year, Camlux opened Kowloon Bay’s first hotel. In terms of F&B options, the Goldin Group is leading the way. In May, Foodie reviewed the impressive Le Pan, which is Goldin’s flagship restaurant. Two months later, the group have now opened Matsunichi.
Matsunichi’s location and design make it feel like you’re in a high-end hotel or mall rather than an office building. It turns out that renowned Japanese chef Hide Yamamoto is a friend of Goldin’s and was involved in selecting everything from the machinery to the crockery. I wonder if he was also involved in choosing the lovely traditional Japanese string music playing throughout our visit too. The 10,600-square-foot space is cleverly divided into a main room with architecturally impressive booths and three private dining rooms. The overall design is sleek and would be especially comfortable for group or business lunches and dinners.
Recently, I had the opportunity to try their five-course omakase menu ($1,200/person).
First out was a trio of appetisers. I love unagi (eel) and was glad to start with a piece that was of good quality and not overwhelmingly fatty. The crab miso sauce on the broccoli was extremely flavourful and rich. But it was the grilled bell fish that was the highlight of the three. It absolutely melted in the mouth, and the crab served alongside it was a perfect crunchy little thing.
Next up was a beautiful bowl of sashimi on ice. The aji (horse mackerel) was very fresh, as was the torigai (large cockle), which is apparently supposed to taste like chicken. A little bit…? Unfortunately, our cut of tuna was slightly too sinewy and didn’t have the melt-in-the-mouth texture we were looking forward to.
It was a real treat watching Chef Jiro Fukuda, Matsunichi’s head chef for tempura, prepare our tempura, including filleting our live eel. The serving was two pieces of eel: one fatty to be eaten with the tempura sauce, one lean to be enhanced with seaweed salt.
The uni tempura roll ($180 à la carte), Chef Fukuda's creation, was a treat for our taste buds – and Instagram. I’ve never had anything quite like this before. A seaweed tempura cracker was topped with generous amounts of uni (sea urchin) and roe. This was a sinful treat that focused on the premium ingredients.
I loved the sticky Ibaraki potato tempura. The crisp shell contained a perfectly and evenly cooked centre.
All our tempura was delicious and obviously sinful, but nothing felt too oily. I learned this was because Chef Fukuda fried them in his special combination of rice oil, sesame oil and cottonseed oil – a combination of oils chosen for their aroma, balanced so that the tempura doesn’t leave an oily film in the mouth.
I went to heaven while eating this A5 Wagyu beef sirloin. This was really some of the best beef I’ve ever eaten in my life. It was incredibly juicy and marbled, with so much flavour. I like to think I can eat a lot, but I could barely eat half my portion. If nothing else, this – the portion and price – is the reason I will be back to Matsunichi. While the beef was great on its own, I really liked having multiple flavouring options: wasabi, yuzu soy sauce, sesame sauce, steak sauce and salt flakes. All the sauces are made in house.
I was way too full to finish the garlic egg fried rice, but I took a few bites, and it was cooked to perfection – aromatic and full of good-quality ingredients while tasting light and non-oily.
I’d never had mizu shingen mochi, also known as Japanese raindrop cake. This is a classic Japanese dessert, but it's not commonly found in Hong Kong. The jelly itself is lightly flavoured, served alongside a potent Okinawan black sugar sauce and soybean powder. It was the perfect dessert to round off a very rich dinner.
Matsunichi is a restaurant that focuses on tried-and-true, authentic Japanese food. The chefs and staff are passionate about bringing the best of Japan to discerning diners in Kowloon Bay. There will always be seasonal set menus on offer, but the team are very flexible and open to working with budgets and tailor-making menus for groups. They're currently busier for lunch than dinner. However, I bet that will soon change as word gets out about their quality food and generous portion sizes! Don’t let the distance stop you from checking out this place. For those driving to the restaurant, Matsunichi has free parking. Those taking the MTR will enjoy the free shuttle bus from Kowloon Bay station (near Delifrance).
2/F, Goldin Financial Global Centre, 17 Kai Cheung Road, Kowloon Bay, 3188 2760
This post also appears on jenniexplores.com