6/F Circle Tower, 28 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay
Tel: 2893 9697
Open: noon-3pm, 6pm-midnight
Price: about HK$255 without drinks or the service charge.
Ambience: the cheap and cheerful interior was izakaya-like in style.
Pros: the unusual dishes were delicious and creative, and our waiter didn't baulk at our questions about ingredients we couldn't identify.
Cons: we never quite knew what to expect because several English translations were incorrect. Mackerel turned out to be mentaiko (fish roe), and we puzzled over two dishes listed one after the other on the menu with the same English description ('kidney with garlic') but with different Chinese names. The assorted sashimi (HK$230), the most expensive of our dishes, was disappointing because the octopus was far from tender. Even harder to eat were the chicken kidneys (HK$19 a stick).
Recommended dishes: Chopped raw octopus in wasabi sauce (HK$60) may have looked slimy and unappetising, even with a wasabi leaf for decoration, but it was light and delectable because of its flavour and texture. No one expected much from the lychee in bacon (HK$30 a stick), but the sweet and salty combination was a hit. Another strange item, even though it didn't seem very Japanese, was baked oyster with bacon and cheese (HK$50 for three). Gooey parmesan mixed with a Japanese salad dressing and flecked with bacon provided an indulgent topping that was sour, salty and creamy. Best of all was grilled shishito (Japanese green peppers) stuffed with mentaiko and covered in bonito flakes. The dish (HK$135 for three servings) had just a hint of the peppers, and the marinated fish eggs popped in the mouth, releasing a taste of the sea, with spice.
What else? Tang Lung Street, which is north of Times Square, is packed with restaurants, as is Circle Tower, which has other Japanese restaurants.