Newly opened Japanese izakaya Iza in Elements, Tsim Sha Tsui – skewers that hit the spot, and more besides
Pork neck and ox tongue skewers and a cracking grilled eel on rice were the highlights at this casual dining place in Kowloon
Iza in Civic Square, Elements, is the latest izakaya to open in Hong Kong. It’s a cosy space with an outdoor seating area, although most would agree it’s too hot for that right now.
When we went, the restaurant had recently opened and looked a bit understaffed, but the waiters were patient in explaining the concept of the menu and ingredients in the dishes. The menu was still being tweaked and some dishes listed were unavailable. Soon after we walked through the door we were recognised by executive chef Jin Suzuki, who is also responsible for the menu at Hon10 in Pacific Place.
We had a scrumptious start to the meal with the tuna tartare with crispy rice cracker (HK$115), a new creation by chef Suzuki. Diners pile bluefin tuna tartare and small cubes of tuna onto the crunchy rice crackers before adding some of the slightly tart sauce. The ingredients complemented each other, and the combination was a mix of smooth and crisp textures.
The Japanese sweetcorn (HK$48) was crunchy and sweet, although the portion was small. The asparagus dipped in an onsen egg (HK$28) seemed like a good idea, but in practice was messy to eat – we would have preferred to eat the ingredients separately.
Skewers of pork neck with leeks (HK$28) and ox tongue (HK$33) were highlights of the meal, as were the shishito peppers (HK$23), which weren’t spicy hot (although they can be). The chicken hearts (HK$28) were pedestrian.
After the skewers, we were treated to an excellent una don (HK$158), or grilled eel on rice. The eel was perfectly executed, very smooth in texture, with a taste that was not too salty or sweet, and the rice underneath had soaked up the delicious flavours.
Assorted tempura (HK$118) was pretty straightforward, featuring a selection of prawns, sweet potato, onions and mushroom.
To finish the meal, a citrusy scoop of yuzu ice cream (HK$25) hit the spot.
Iza, Shop R011, Roof Level, Civic Square, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel 2522 1800
Other izakaya places we’ve tried recently: