Bernice Chan, Razlan Manjaji, Tracey Furniss, Nora Tong, Lana Lam
AMBIENCE Mostly dark with colourful graphic designs, a large bar in front and a robotayaki station and booths at the back lined with sake drums.
COST HK$1,024 for two including sake.
WHO TO BRING Friends for a casual meal.
TURN-ONS For appetisers, we started with thin slices of seared tuna on top of small mounds of shaved radish that encircled a pile of greens with a refreshing light dressing. We also appreciated the spinach and water chestnut dumplings folded into pyramids. The prawn tempura was not oily. For mains, the grilled beef sirloin with spicy coriander was juicy, and the grilled and braised ox tongue with pickled wasabi relish was tender. We also thought the grilled scallops (above) with apple wasabi relish was delicious. The chocolate brownie dessert was complemented by almond sand and sliced strawberries. Another favourite was a trio of ice cream and sorbet including white chocolate Asahi, while the mango shichimi or Japanese seven spice had a slight aftertaste.
TURN-OFFS While service was friendly, dishes were slow to arrive despite the quiet evening.
DRINKS Sake, shochu and Japanese beers, limited wine list. BC
G/F, 18 Shelley Street
FARE Contemporary Japanese.
AMBIENCE Elegant and laid-back for a relaxed experience. The robatayaki-style theatre allows you to witness its star chef in action, while the birdcage-like designer pods are perfect for group dining.
COST HK$1,408 for two, including three glasses of Champagne.
WHO TO BRING The significant other, or group of close friends.
TURN-ONS The star of the night was the US Angus beef (above). The tenderloin was grilled perfectly to medium rare, each cut bursting with flavour. Also highly recommended is the ready-to-eat lobster hot pot where succulent baby lobsters were halved and cooked with udon and tangy sweet broth. For robatayaki, the nankotsu (soft bone chicken skewer) and negima (chicken meat with leek skewer) were delicious despite being slightly burned. The vegetable tempura could do with a thinner batter, though the greens were crispy and fresh. For dessert, the red bean ice cream had crunchy almond flakes and fresh fruits.
TURN-OFFS The waiting staff forgot our organic tomato salad which was part of the beef set meal and we had to remind them. The iPad menu, though impressive at first, was more of a chore to use.
DRINKS A good selection of sake, shochu and plum wine, wines, beer and Champagne. RM
Tokoro Robatayaki & Bar
3/F, Langham Place Hotel
555 Shanghai Street, Mong Kok
FARE Barbecue and Grill.
AMBIENCE Alfresco patio and poolside dining for casual lunches and dinners, weather permitting. The area is secluded from the cityscape and noise, and potted bushes ensure partial privacy from the pool.
COST About HK$1,400 for two including drinks at lunchtime.
WHO TO BRING Family, friends, colleagues or business clients.
TURN-ONS The traditional Caesar's salad with grilled chicken breast or home-smoked salmon is great as a starter or main course. The lamb is recommended as it's tender with no strong aftertaste when ordering the pita bread pocket (above) with sauteed lamb, cucumber yoghurt with lettuce, avocado and tomato. The pan-fried veal schnitzel with French fries and cucumber salad was good but was in need of a sauce. The desserts, including the ice cream, are homemade and the seasonal fruit salad came with plenty of berries.
TURN-OFFS There are no table fans if it's a particularly hot afternoon or evening.
DRINKS A good selection of homemade lemonades including strawberry and apple, and smoothies. Wine by the glass starts at HK$95 for a good sauvignon blanc or malbec, and there are good international vintages by the bottle. TF
11/F Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
1 Harbour Rd
STYLISH AND SOCIABLE
FARE Contemporary Japanese.
AMBIENCE Sleek, stylish and sociable, the restaurant is perfect for high-flying legal and financial professionals working nearby.
COST HK$1,850 for two for dinner including a pot of green tea.
WHO TO BRING Dinner with colleagues, business associates or friends.
TURN-ONS The three appetisers, prime tuna maki with caviar, sesame and wasabi; sweet shrimp and scallop roll; and tuna tataki salad were delicious, and the robata grill lived up to its reputation. Among the five grilled dishes, the tiger prawn and the black cod (above) were the most impressive. Tiger prawn with hot chilli paste was an unbeatable combination. The cod was moist, its flavour complemented by the sweetness of miso sauce and chopped ginger. The jasmine ice cream, together with yuzu-flavoured squashed ice, sliced strawberries and layers of orange jelly, sponge and cream, was the evening's highlight. The multiflavoured dessert gave a refreshing end to the meal.
TURN-OFFS We waited over half an hour for the grilled sweet corn and grilled black cod and none of the staff checked on us.
DRINKS Extensive alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. NT
Shop 002, Level LG1
AMBIENCE The restaurant is sectioned off with nooks for semi-private dining for families and groups.
COST HK$715 for two including a glass of beer.
WHO TO BRING Family, friends and colleagues.
TURN-ONS For starters, we requested the Korean appetisers that featured pickled daikon, spicy bean sprouts, kimchi, preserved vegetables and acorn jelly. We enjoyed the marinated special short ribs as they didn't stick to the grill and were still tender. The ginseng black chicken soup was nourishing. The bird was stuffed with glutinous rice and dates and flavoured with ginger and ginseng, garnished with Korean chives. Large groups should try the arrowroot noodle dish with vegetables and beef in a refreshingly spicy cold soup.
TURN-OFFS The spicy acorn jelly salad overpowered the subtle flavours of the salad that included cucumber, peppers, Korean chives and sesame seeds. While we liked the bibimbahb (above) - vegetables, shredded beef, egg and rice mixed in a stone pot - ours didn't have much sesame oil.
DRINKS Korean liquor, wines and beer. BC
Shop 1205, 12/F, Times Square
1 Matheson Street
FARE Japanese robotayaki.
AMBIENCE Sleek, dark, modern with high ceilings.
WHO TO BRING Foodies who like a bit of theatre with their meal.
COST HK$1,600 for two with drinks.
TURN-ONS The crescent-shaped bar in the dining room has a nice energy to it and there are two guys perched on their knees on a stage, tending to the grills below. We watched them prepare the fresh produce before skewering the items to place over the grill before the cooked items are passed to you on a paddle. The food is sparingly seasoned, just a sprinkling of salt and a spray of oil, allowing the flavours to be teased out over the grill. The grilled asparagus and Portobello mushrooms were tender, juicy and sweet, while the grilled lobster (above) had a smokiness that extended the sweetness in the flesh. The grilled wagyu M6 beef sirloin was the night's winner, cooked to medium and served with whole-seed mustard and coarse salt.
TURN-OFFS Staff were not able to provide more details of the food when pressed and some recommendations, such as the daikoku shimeji mushrooms, had run out. The lobster head miso soup didn't have the headline act and the udon was not as silky and plump as expected. Limited wines by the glass.
DRINKS Extensive selection of New and Old world wines, spirits, sake, shochu and cocktails. LL
Shop 209, 1881 Heritage, 2A Canton Rd
Tsim Sha Tsui
FARE Tibetan and Middle Eastern.
AMBIENCE Customers are immersed in an exotic setting, surrounded by intricately carved doors and cabinets, special wall art and decorations, and hanging lights and lanterns. The belly dances are probably the evening's highlight for many diners.
WHO TO BRING Ideal for birthday celebrations with a group of friends.
COST HK$682 for dinner for two including a pot of special Tibetan tea.
TURN-ONS With the belly dancing and the cheers of the customers, dinner couldn't be more entertaining. The small dishes were a delight. Among the six appetisers we had, the beef and Portobello mushroom skewers were flavourful and juicy, the minced beef stuffed in fried buns was seasoned to perfection, while the puff pastry with chicken had a fragrant buttery taste.
TURN-OFFS The lamb shank was a bit overdone. There is also room for improvement in the service - more attentive waiters and waitresses would improve the overall experience.
DRINKS An exciting range of Tibetan and Middle Eastern beverages, including savoury hot tea with milk goes fairly well with the spicy food. NT
Shop 401, K11
18 Hanoi Road
Tsim Sha Tsui