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I know a place: TV host and writer Kei Sugiuchi knows what he likes

Vanessa Yung

 

Hokkaido native Kei Sugiuchi, better known as Kei San, has lived in Hong Kong for 30 years. A self-taught cook, Kei is the host of a TV food show and a newspaper columnist.

 

I started cooking when I moved to California with my family when I was younger. There wasn't much Japanese food available, so I started cooking with any Asian ingredients I could get from grocery stores to fix my Japanese food cravings.

When I moved to Hong Kong, there weren't many Japanese restaurants and they were so expensive I couldn't afford them. I only went when my bosses paid.

I continued cooking my own meals using ingredients from department stores, such as Sogo and the now-closed Mitsukoshi, although they were quite expensive, too.

Nowadays, there are a lot more affordable and good Japanese restaurants - not to be confused with Japanese-style restaurants - to choose from in Hong Kong now.

I think Restaurant Osaka (Ashley Building, 14 Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2376 3323) is the oldest Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong. It has been operating at the same address for 40 years and, until recently, under the same chef. They serve traditional fare from Osaka, which is in the Kansai region where the dishes are lighter than in the Kanto region, for example.

The Japanese love alcohol and they serve everything from draught beer to sake and shochu. Their seasonal sashimi and sushi are great, and they are one of the few places that serve authentic mackerel pressed box sushi.

I also like Hakata Dojo (3/F Tern Plaza, 5 Cameron Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2312 6922). They have a branch in Causeway Bay which is more popular among younger costumers and has a slightly different menu. The TST branch has more snacks and beer food such as yakitori, while the other has more set meals.

Japanese chefs are hired to offer a real taste of Kyushu and they regularly source fresh ingredients from Japan.

Sushi Kuu (1/F M88, 2-8 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2971 0180) is a great sushi place run by Japanese owner-chef Satoru Mukogawa who speaks awesome English because he studied in the US. He loves parties and socialising and so he chats and drinks with his customers constantly. He has turned sushi making into a performance and spices it up with different tricks.

Sagrantino (5/F The Loop, 33 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2521 5188) is an Italian restaurant opened by Japanese owner-chef Takashi Yasuda. They serve Italian cuisine with a Japanese twist so they use ingredients such as soy sauce and miso in their dishes. The chef really knows his fresh sashimi produce well and uses Italian and Japanese seasonings.

vanessa.yung@scmp.com

 

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