Restaurant review: Izakaya Mori
Kenji Fujimoto was accepted into Kim Jong-il's inner circle during a 13-year stint serving North Korea's first family. The Japanese sushi chef gives Julian Ryall his take on the communist dynasty'...
15/F Circle Tower, 28 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay
Tel: 2898 2229
Open: noon-3pm, 6.30pm-11.30pm
Price: about HK$300 without drinks or the service charge.
Ambience: it was very quiet on a Saturday night, and staff far outnumbered the customers. For most of the night, we were the only diners. The room, decorated in dark wood, has comfortable booths, and counter seating around the open kitchen.
Pros: in keeping with the izakaya dining style, we had our meal at a leisurely pace, ordering more dishes later.
Cons: three food menus - sushi and sashimi, yakitori and kushiyaki (grilled dishes), and one for everything else, plus a separate menu for drinks - made for confusion while ordering. Korean-style spicy whelks (HK$68) were too salty, and no extracting implement was provided; we resorted to using wooden toothpicks, which broke. The chicken kidney (HK$25 per skewer) and chicken liver (HK$35) weren't anything special.
Recommended dishes: onsen egg salad (HK$65) was a refreshing start to the meal, with several types of salad leaves, a wobbly egg and sesame dressing. Firefly squid in soy sauce (HK$60) had a lovely fragrance and subtle yet distinctive taste of yuzu. House-made chicken meatball (HK$35) was lighter, moister and smoother than many versions we've tried. Although the assorted pickles - including garlic, pretty pink-and-white radish, daikon and sesame-dusted burdock - were good, the dish was expensive at HK$100. Cheese rice cake (HK$18), dusted with kinako (soya bean powder), had a tender wrapper and was grilled so it was molten hot inside. Grilled quail in saikyou style (HK$78) was absolutely delicious. It was in a saikyou marinade, then perfectly grilled so that the meat - even the breast - was still moist.
What else? The izakaya has a sister restaurant, Sushi Mori, in the same building but one floor up. Susan Jung