2 Shin Hing Street, Central
Tel: 2581 1282
Price: about HK$400 without drinks and the service charge
Ambience: shambolic, which may have had something to do with the boisterous table of revellers beside us or the eccentric mixture of music or the eclectic decor. Displayed on the open-kitchen counter is the creature that lends its name to this establishment: the akabeko (red cow), which is a mascot of Aizu in Fukushima prefecture.
Pros: the waiters were efficient, my tea cup was never empty, and our friendly host was keen to chat after the restaurant had quietened later in the evening.
Cons: the noise and uneven lighting can be jarring if you're trying to have a laid-back evening. The goya champuru (HK$65) - a lacklustre dish of Okinawan-style stir-fried bitter melon, tofu and egg - was disappointing, not least because pork (not mentioned in the menu) made a surprise appearance; 'champuru' is derived from the Malay 'campur', meaning 'mix', which perhaps explains the sloppy home-cooked appearance of the dish. The asari chijimi (HK$75), a thin Korean pancake with asari clams, lacked moisture and flavour, and had us reaching for the soy sauce.
Recommended dishes: the restaurant's signature dishes are beef-orientated, which explains the cow on the front of the menu with different cuts mapped on its body. We tried the wagyu short rib (HK$65 a skewer), hanging tender (HK$65), skirt (HK$65) and tri tip (HK$65), which is the inner thigh of the animal and the meat we most enjoyed, although all of the chunky-cut portions were expertly seasoned, succulent and delicious with wasabi and yuzu kosho (citrus-flavoured pepper). My guest, however, felt the wagyu sausage (HK$65) was inadequately spiced compared with the other beef offerings. Under 'Chicken and Others ...', the shishitou peppers (HK$25) and shiitake mushrooms (HK$25), both grilled, juicy and smoky-savoury, were tasty side dishes to pick at between dishes or while enjoying drinks. Also worth ordering is the classic yakitori chicken leg with leek (HK$40).
What else? Sushi Kuu chef Satoru Mukogawa and On Lot 10's David Lai are behind Kushiyaki Beco, which seats 30 people downstairs and can accommodate private parties of up to 16 upstairs.