Japanese tycoon takes a punt on massive Hung Hom 'gourmet hub'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2012, 12:00am


Whampoa Garden has long been a popular neighbourhood among the city's Japanese residents, so it's no surprise that K.O. Dining Group chose The Harbourfront Landmark in Hung Hom to launch its first project.

Named after the initials of Japanese gambling billionaire Kazuo Okada, the new hospitality group is a wholly owned subsidiary of Okada's Universal Entertainment Corporation. Instead of opening just one restaurant, the group settled for a 25,000 sq ft 'gourmet hub' with three restaurants.

While the namesake Japanese restaurant Kazuo Okada specialises in kaiseki - multi-course meals - Messina Il Ristorante features dishes from southern Italy, and Yu Lei offers traditional Shanghainese cuisine.

Other than the distinctive design of each restaurant and the spacious private rooms available, a highlight of the establishment must be the 10,000-bottle wine cellar.

The opening party on Tuesday night kicked off with a ribbon-cutting and hand-printing ceremony in Yu Lei, with Okada, his wife, three executive chefs and other managers.

The crowd then moved on to Kazuo Okada for a barrel-breaking ritual. Afterwards, guests hopped busily from one restaurant to another sampling bite-sized dishes and watching performances.

Two singers from the Opera Society of Hong Kong performed at Messina, while a 12-piece Chinese ensemble performed in Yu Lei as a tea-pulling master worked his magic with a long-necked teapot.

Artist Saori Kanda, whose works adorn the Japanese restaurant's walls, painted a large red flower as she danced to the music and sipped her drink.