Ippou Japanese Restaurant
16/F Tiffan Tower
199 Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai
Tel: 2833 2178
Open: Monday-Saturday noon-2.30pm, 6.30pm-11pm
Price: about HK$475 without drinks and the service charge.
Ambience: the abundance of grilled dishes might lead you to think it's an izakaya, but it's not. It's casual and comfortable, with spacious booths. The servers were friendly, although we would have appreciated being told we were ordering too much. The small, open kitchen, with seats in front, lets diners watch their food being prepared.
Pros: the menu has some dishes you don't see at most Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong, including chicken sashimi, liver sashimi and testes.
Cons: we disliked only two dishes: the grilled chicken wings with fish roe (HK$50), which had a filling that tasted more like surimi (ground fish paste), and the mackerel with salt (HK$180), which was over-seasoned.
Recommended dishes: mackerel sashimi (HK$180) was the fresh type; the fish wasn't marinated in vinegar as it often is, to temper its oily flavour. The thin slices, served with a ginger and spring onion-flecked sauce (rather than wasabi with soy) were rich but clean-tasting. Botan ebi sashimi (HK$300 for four large shrimp) had tender flesh, and heads that were full of sweet shrimp essence. The liver sashimi (HK$85) had the definite taste of the organ meat, but it was more subtle than expected. The grilled chicken livers (HK$30 per skewer) were good in a different way; the livers were succulent, fatty and toothsome. We also ordered more organ meat in different styles - the grilled chicken kidneys (HK$25 per skewer) were tender and bouncy, but even better were the kidneys with garlic and chives (HK$80). The only vegetable we ordered was the grilled lotus root (HK$25), which was cooked long and slowly, so the sweetness was intensified.
What else? Ippou's sister restaurant is Mirror, the French restaurant on the sixth floor of the same building.