Restaurant review: Kashiwaya in Central – Japanese fine dining with the light flavours of spring

The set pattern of courses, the ingredients and tableware all reflect the season in this kaiseki treat

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 March, 2016, 12:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 March, 2016, 4:22pm

The entrance and short walk to the dining area at Kashiwaya are beautiful, preparing you mentally to slow down and forget the busy streets below, so you can enjoy the meal to come.

It’s a pity, then, that we were quickly brought back down to reality by the guests in the adjacent room, whose conversation we could hear through the sliding slatted doors.

We also were seated right in front of the cooking station – a view we normally enjoy – but when the chef left early on in the meal, we were left with a sink to look at.

Although the atmosphere didn’t put our mindset into the season of spring, the kaiseki meal did.

In a kaiseki meal, there’s a set pattern of courses, and the ingredients and tableware reflect the season. Kashiwaya – the original of which is a Michelin three-star restaurant in Osaka – offers three menu options, and we chose Yamamomo at HK$2,300 per person plus 10 per cent (the others are HK$2,800 and HK$4,000).

Because it was early spring, the flavours were light, the meal included a lot of vegetables, and there was no meat.

The 10 courses were beautifully presented at a good pace, and they were subtle and delicate. The only disappointment was the sashimi – the ika (squid) and seared tai (sea bream) were fine, but the maguro (bluefin tuna) was watery.

The highlights of the meal were the stewed hamaguri clam with tender young bamboo shoot, ostrich fiddlehead fern and a light clam consommé; grilled pen shell clam with shiitake mushroom and wheat gluten and konjak topped with miso; and a complex dish with lots of elements and flavours, including Welsh onion with sake-cooked squid, grilled bamboo, myrtle jelly and a fried sesame ball.

The salted shrimp-marinated horse head fish with tempura fatsia sprout was delicious.

The fried flounder on simmered yam sauce, and wild snapper and tea rice with pickles (cucumber, cabbage and kombu) wound down the savoury portion of the meal.

The final sweet of milk pudding with pineapple, melon and strawberry, was lovely and light.

Kashiwaya Hong Kong 8/F, 18 On Lan St, Central, tel: 2520 5218. Menus range between HK$2,300 and HK$4,000