Restaurant review: URA serves delicious izakaya food in chic, cool surroundings
Sheung Wan restaurant delivers fantastic izakaya
When it comes to izakaya, I tend to associate lack of decor with good food, and vice versa. URA Japanese Delicacy proves me wrong: it is possible to have delicious izakaya food in chic, cool surroundings.
A seasonal speciality, Pacific saury sashimi (HK$148) had great presentation, and the thick pieces of rich, oily fish were fresh and meaty. Mie prefecture homemade tofu (HK$78) was soft and subtle and came in three cups: one with soy sauce and spring onion, another with sesame and shredded nori, and the last one with truffle paste, Parma ham and olive oil.
The appearance of Hokkaido crab paste toast (HK$148) is off-putting: the greenish-brown paste looks like something you wouldn't choose to eat. Known as kani miso, the crab paste - served warm in a crab shell accompanied by thick pieces of soft toast - was rich, smooth and intense. Kagoshima pork salad (H$128) had great ingredients: thin slices of tender, fatty pork, a good selection of vegetables, and two delicious sauces - one with sesame paste, and a light, peppery vinegar sauce.
Miyazaki-style grilled chicken (HK$88) had moist boneless meat that would have been better with more char. Saga prefecture glutinous rice chicken skewer (HK$78 for two) was a variation on tsukune (chicken meatball) that was surprisingly light - the rice compressed just enough so the ingredients (which included the obligatory chicken cartilage) stayed together.
Thick cut Hokkaido Genghis Khan grilled lamb (HK$198) was the only disappointing dish. Unevenly cut pieces of lamb were served raw on a plate, and the waiter placed a heated iron platter on the table so we could grill the meat. It was boring after a few pieces and we left about half of the meat uneaten. This is when the meal - already an enjoyable one - became even better. When the waiter brought the bill, there wasn't a charge for the lamb dish. We hadn't complained about it, but the waiter said he noticed we didn't finish it, so asked the manager to take it off the cheque.
URA Japanese Delicacy, 2/F The Wellington, 198 Wellington St, Sheung Wan, tel: 2111 9381. About HK$300 without drinks or the service charge