Shop 8, Woodhouse, 36-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 2721 8832
Cuisine: Japanese with a slight Western twist
Price: about HK$140 before drinks and service charge
Ambience: Kushi Studio is part of a relatively quiet boutique Japanese mall in the basement of bustling Chungking Mansions. The 40-seat restaurant is brightly lit and modern, with wood tables and chairs. We were seated in an alcove away from the main dining area; the spot made it difficult to flag down a server, but he made regular rounds to check on our needs.
Pros: the various dinner sets make great value for money. Twelve individual dinner sets, including hamachi sashimi over rice (HK$108) and carbonara udon (HK$78), all come with miso soup, green salad and three kinds of katsu (breaded and fried) skewers. A four-course dinner for two (HK$368) offers a choice of five mains, and 150ml carafes of sake start at HK$35.
Cons: the katsu skewers are coated with regular breadcrumbs (as opposed to more textural Japanese panko) and rather too greasy; with each bite, oil would ooze out of the batter, which somewhat overpowered the flavour of the milder vegetable skewers. The roasted scallop sashimi with yuzu jelly (HK$88) from the a la carte selection was underwhelming. The scallop, which wasn't the freshest, was not sweet or juicy, and the surface searing did not impart the nutty, charred note expected.
Recommended dishes: the lotus root skewer stuffed with spicy mentaiko (salted fish roe, HK$15 each) had a lovely, slightly sweet crunch, and the mentaiko added salty bursts to each bite. My guest was happy with the five thick slices of fresh hamachi in her set (HK$108), which also came with a well-seasoned smelt skewer that held up to its oily coating, and an oyster skewer, which, though greasy on the outside, was sweet and briny on the inside and tasted great with mayonnaise dip. We also enjoyed the carbonara udon (HK$78 as a set), which made for a different textural approach to the traditionally Italian sauce.
What else? Every HK$60 spent on lunch or tea earns you a stamp on a coupon card. Nine stamps may be redeemed for a set lunch.