This will be the last part of my HK short trip in Nov last year. I had a lunch (by having a dinner set menu) at Kashiwaya, a relatively new Japanese restaurant. Followers of Japan kaiseki should immediately recognize the name – it’s indeed the first overseas outlet of the Kashiwaya Senriyama, one of a few 3-star Michelin restaurants in Osaka. The reservation was a bit challenging: to guarantee it, guests had to fill in the form and give your CC numbers / pictures as well as your signature. I was a bit lucky to make it here because the day before (Hideaki Matsuo, the chef-patron had an event in Macau so he brought his HK team along) and the day after (Jun Takahashi, the executive chef of Kashiwaya HK would attend a Michelin ‘party’) my lunch, Kashiwaya was apparently closed. I perceived it that the restaurant wanted to make sure whenever they open, they would serve the best food to their customers by having the full team around.
Kashiwaya is located on the 8th floor at the On Lan Street, Central (the same building as Arcane and ON dining kitchen). The restaurant is carefully decorated and the interior was designed as if you’re transported to Japan – from the karakami sliding doors to walls painted by Japanese artists etc. The atmosphere was elegant, comfortable and discreetly ‘lavish’. I was the first customer to arrive and there were 2 others seated at the counter. However, the main dining hall was full – occupied by more than 10 people from mainland China (how did I know? From their Mandarin and accent of course; they’re also loud and carried plenty of shopping bags ). Thus, for the relatively new dining places with minimal marketing, Kashiwaya HK seemed to do quite well.
Upon making a booking, the restaurant would ask you which menu to have as the kitchen got to prepare the ingredients a few days in advance. I picked the middle menu with 10 courses. Like any other overseas branches of Japanese restaurants in HK, the price here was expensive. Jun Takahashi and his team worked hard to “compensate” for it. All of the dishes were labor-intensive and carefully prepared by using premium, fresh and seasonal ingredients. Presentations were generally beautiful and the taste was delicious. I might not eat any spectacular dishes, but they’re consistently good and served at the high level. If I had to pick my favorite, a few of them were:
-Nimonowan: The Amadai was carefully sake steamed resulting in tasty and tender fish; the Matsutake was meaty and delicious. The most important part was the perfectly balanced dashi with clean & umami flavor that held all elements (sweet potato, carrot and green vegetables) together. An awesome soup!
-Yakimono: The grilled & marinated Ibodai was juicy, rich and delicious. The sweet potato, surprisingly, complemented the fish well. At first, I suspected they would be too strong when consumed together; the portion was also nice
-Kae: 2 small dishes served concurrently. The first one - The sweet soy stewed Ayu fish and Uni brought richer tastes; they're balanced by rather mild mozzarella cheese and wasabi. The second part - The marinated Maguro was good; they're integrated by creamy ‘wild’ avocado, radish and uni as well as firm Shiitake mushroom. The dishes were meticulously executed using premium ingredients and they were satisfying
For those who want to know more about what I ate, you could check out the links below. I noticed that at least half of the kitchen and dining room staffs were Japanese (including the lady manager); to ensure authenticity and the experience delivered at the high level. My hot ocha was constantly re-filled and anytime I need something, it was not difficult to find helpful staffs. The junior cooks plated many dishes at the counter, so asking any question about the food was not difficult when you’re seated at the counter. Overall, it was a very pleasant experience. I very much liked my Autumn tasting menu though I cannot say for sure that I will definitely return here on my next visit to Hong Kong due to its steep price and the fact that the island had ample of dining options. I think the 2-star Michelin awarded to Kashiwaya is a well-deserved one.
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