Shop 413-415, Podium 4, World Trade Centre, Causeway Bay
Tel: 2711 6362
Open: noon-3pm, 6pm-10.30pm
Cuisine: Japanese (soba specialist)
Price: about HK$240 without drinks or the service charge.
Ambience: the restaurant was busy on the rainy weeknight visit, so we were glad we'd booked. Our main waitress was friendly and helpful.
Pros: the menu gives a detailed explanation about soba (buckwheat pasta), including the different types served here: inaka, or countryside soba; etanbetsu, made from the centre part of the buckwheat; sarashina sesame soba; and shiretoko, mixed with seaweed.
Cons: the batter of the assorted tempura with chilled sarashina sesame soba and iced bonito soup (HK$138) was too hard and crunchy for the sole shrimp on the platter, but it worked better for the vegetables, especially the enoki mushrooms.
Recommended dishes: we loved the chilled sarashina sesame soba with natto (HK$88), which had four types of slimy ingredients: besides the fermented soya beans, there were grated mountain yam, onsen egg and okra. We mixed all the ingredients into a messy but deliciously slippery mass. The fresh tomato, sea urchin and salmon roe chilled etanbetsu soba (HK$168) had too much soba in proportion to the other listed ingredients, but once we'd mixed the toppings with about half the noodles, it was cooling and refreshing. Although the flavour of the chilled shirotake zarusoba with sesame and black garlic oil sauce (HK$88) was good, it was too creamy for one person to eat as a sole noodle course, so we were glad the three of us were sharing it. The DIY bean curd (HK$78), simmering in a little pot on our table, was warm and smooth, with its subtle flavour perked up with the three salts (yuzu, green tea and wasabi).
What else? Besides the extensive soba offerings, Kurotaki also serves sashimi platters, kushiyaki (grilled skewers) and desserts. Booking a table by phone can be hard, so leave a message on the voicemail. Someone will call.