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Have you ever had aburi sushi?
During my first trip to Vancouver, a friend brought me to popular spot Minami and introduced me to this flame-seared, pressed style of sushi. Seeing as I probably won’t be travelling to Vancouver anytime soon, I was excited to see aburi sushi being offered in Hong Kong here at CHAKO.
CHAKO is a new Japanese restaurant on trendy Ship Street in Wanchai (in the old BIB N HOPS space) headed up by Chef Takeshi Suzuki, who led the kitchens at TMK and Honjo. Now, he’s bringing his creativity to this modern izakaya. In addition to aburi sushi, CHAKO specialises in grilled dishes using only binchotan, or white charcoal, which burns with no smoke or aroma.
We visited to try the CHAKO signature menu ($595/person), which includes four small bites, three types of aburi sushi, six kinds of yakitori, soup, rice and dessert.
Japanese fruit tomato
Sweetcorn with butter soya
The small bites were all solid, though perhaps not particularly noteworthy.
Left to right: prawn with black truffle, yuzu mackerel, salmon and jalapeño
Sushi time! While I was excited to try the aburi sushi, a friend was more cautious, commenting that she doesn’t usually want sauce on her sushi (a purist!). After eating, we agreed that the sauces were done quite well. However, I was slightly dismayed at the execution. While the salmon with jalapeño had two layers of fish, the other two simply had a small amount of topping on a large chunk of rice or a large chunk of rice with some nori. It would have been nice to have more satisfying bites.
Yakitori and kushiyaki
All the yakitori and kushiyaki were prepared well. Favourites included the bacon- wrapped tomato, chicken oyster, chicken neck and chicken meatball with egg yolk (pictured top to bottom).
Soup and rice
We ended our meal with a bowl of chicken broth and this A5 Wagyu sukiyaki. On the menu, the sukiyaki seemed like it would be a main course, but it was just served as one (albeit large) bite. It was certainly a very tasty bite, but I could have eaten a few more!
There were a few options for dessert. I went with the custard mochi with chestnut ice cream. It was very well done – I loved the tender mochi casing and creamy filling. And I’m now on the hunt for more chestnut ice cream… so good.
CHAKO has many things going for it. It’s in a great location, has a chic and fun vibe and uses top-quality ingredients. There’s potential for it to become a go-to spot, but the execution of some dishes and value-for-money factor could be improved. We’d love to give this one another try, perhaps for lunch or happy hour. Chef Suzuki is talented, and it’d be great to see more of the CHAKO team’s creativity.
2/F, J Senses, 18 Ship Street, Wanchai, 3590 2465
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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