Restaurant review: Godenya in Central - great food, sake even better
Sake master Goshima Shinya serves rice wine at exact temperatures to perfectly match his younger brother’s culinary creations
It was a long time before we managed to get a booking at Godenya: more than two months, in fact. And I had to ask a friend who had eaten there before to make the reservation, you can only book online and for that, you need the password. (A hint for those of you who don’t have such nice friends: the password is on their Facebook page.) This same friend advised me on how to find the place, sending me a photo of the shop front: although the address says it’s on Wellington Street, it’s actually down a small, dark alley.
It was worth the effort, and it’s understandable why you have to go to that much trouble: the place has only eight seats – six at the counter and a table for two, and it is booked out two months in advance.
What sets Godenya apart from most other Japanese restaurants is the sake pairing with the set menu: owner and sake master Goshima Shinya insists on serving the drink at precise temperatures, which he says brings out different flavours and aromas.
The food (cooked by Goshima’s younger brother) and sake are presented on beautiful Japanese pottery. Our menu was HK$1,500; the price changes slightly, depending on the ingredients used.
A light, cooling appetiser of oyster with dashi jelly and physalis was paired with Chotin junmai-ginjo namazake 2015 at 18 degrees Celsius, served in a clear glass so you can see the cloudiness of the drink.
Female snow crab that had been marinated with sake for a day, before being served with rice vermicelli, was matched with a dry, smooth Akishika kimoto junmai namazake 2012 at 22 degrees.
The crab and the dish that followed, the kawahagi fish served with its liver, tea leaves, macadamia nuts and white mushrooms, were my favourites of the night. We also liked the chawanmushi, which had chunks of gelatinous soft shell turtle, paired with a deep, rich and warm (52 degrees!) Tanzawasan yamahai junmai 2015.
We also enjoyed the Yamagata wagyu beef with beets and Chinese black bean sauce, served with a fresh, fruity and unusual Inemankai red rice sake. Foie gras with daikon, cream, dill, kumquat and coffee caramel was rich and came with a complex, palate cleansing Tamagawa yamahai junmai namazake 2014 at 48 degrees. The only dish we didn’t like was the angler fish with ankimo (the liver) served in a yuzu shell with fermented bean curd sauce, ginkgo and lily bulbs – it was just too creamy and heavy.
Godenya, 182 Wellington Street, Central, godenya.com