Causeway Bay's newest offering comes in the form of a kaiseki/omakase medley. Located in the shopping and office hub of Sino Plaza, Dining at Murasaki is now open and led by experienced Canadian-Chinese chef Alfred Poon. His new venture puts heavy emphasis on the aspect of dining as an experience rather than focusing on it as yet another restaurant. As a result, Murasaki is styled as an eating destination, not simply a spot to enjoy a meal to please your appetite and hunger, and this concept is evident from the second you step through the luxurious entrance.
With an interior dominated by gilded decor and sumptuous purple tones (a nod to Murasaki's name, which translates to 'purple' or 'violet' in Japanese), this is a place meant for an occasion. Mother-of-pearl inlaid tables and luxurious leather armchairs rule the roost. A sleek bar by the entryway, Japanese lattice screens and the option of dining in a casual lounge area, intimate semi-private seating section or by the teppanyaki bar with spectacular views of Victoria Harbour allow guests the flexibility to tailor their experience. We arrived with high hopes for the meal and were not disappointed.
Matsutake mushroom droplets
From the digestive aperitif of ume fizz to the starter of Matsutake mushroom droplets, the effort spent in paying attention to the most minute details was painstakingly clear. Served on an imitation tree trunk slab, the suggestion was to survey the starter as a forested nature experience. Creative plating and unusual ingredients paved the way for our lunch tasting; from juicy soup droplets and mushroom jelly to bread-based soil and matcha moss, Chef Poon and his team encourage childlike wonder in their patrons. We certainly didn't know what to expect with our first bite, but after the initial hesitation, we embraced our playful side.
Spanish langoustine with bonito jelly and honey citrus sauce
Japanese hamaguri (clam) sake soup
Grilled kinki fish with salmon caviar foam
Focusing most of the menu on goods from the sea, the Spanish langoustine with bonito jelly and honey citrus sauce, Japanese hamaguri (clam) sake soup and grilled kinki fish were the courses that followed. Incredibly fresh and succulent, these dishes were extremely flavourful. Traditionally made with Japanese rice wine, the clam soup saw an update in its preparation through the inclusion of Korean rice wine, which provided the rich broth with a subtler taste. The fragrant kinki fish wowed with its perfectly grilled, crispy skin and soft, tender flesh, drizzled in an aptly salty sauce that made our mouths water for more.
Sous-vide Ibérico pork with peppercorn mustard
Japanese abalone stone rice in soup and eringi mushroom pasta with moro miso
Standouts on the pre-opening tasting menu included the sous-vide Ibérico pork, Japanese abalone stone rice in soup and eringi mushroom pasta. Innovative and well portioned with perfectly balanced flavours and beautifully straightforward presentation (providing a relief from the poised plating of the previous dishes), the East-meets-West influence was strongly prevalent here, and we applaud Chef Poon for challenging the traditional notion of Japanese omakase-style dining by seamlessly amalgamating it with Western cuisine staples. The pork was succulent and tender, with a tangy and umami-rich ginger teriyaki sauce to round out the moreish flavours, while the eringi mushroom pasta (yes, eringi mushrooms sliced to look like soba noodles, but the whole thing is 100% mushroom) was a light accompaniment to the rich, piping hot abalone broth and rice. Hats off to the main courses, for sure.
Homemade wild berries sorbet
The verdict? An entertaining experience, for an experience it was, like Chef Poon had intended, rather than a regular night dining out. We got to marvel at our food, play with it and discover each dish like it was a new adventure; each course was a conversation starter rather than the interruption of one. The flavours we encountered were doubtlessly well executed and tried and tested, but the familiarity paired well with the creative presentation. We also liked the thoughtfulness behind the omakase menus, which make a considerable effort to cater to diners of the vegetarian variety without lacking in innovation. The restaurant also serves a good, strong cup of joe, which is always a bonus in my book. The service at Murasaki was attentive and impeccable, and we noticed no discernible hiccups that often accompany an opening. Bravo: this is a place we'd consider for a special evening.
UG/F, Sino Plaza, 255 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, 2817 8383