Restaurant review: Haku at Harbour City – Japanese fare so delicious we wanted more
From the delectable fig with sake ice cream to the perfectly cooked foie gras, the meal at this Tsim Sha Tsui restaurant was outstanding, bar one fatty beef dish
I was recognised at Haku as soon as I walked into the small restaurant. I first noticed the staff staring intently, then the hostess came up and called me by my name, instead of the pseudonym I used when I made the booking at the Tsim Sha Tsui restaurant.
One of the chefs offered to cook a special menu of surprises for us, but sensing my objection, we received a hand-written menu of the eight dishes we were going to be served, just as the other guests did, although our meal was slightly different.
The meal starts with a few small bites. I loved the nori cone with minced bonito and dashi foam, and the one-bite morcilla.
The Nagahama daily catch of aka yagara came in cool, toothsome slices dressed with katsuobushi, seaweed and yuzu.
Next came our favourite savoury dish of the night: a light brioche with butternut squash purée and uni. It was fantastic – so good it left us wanting more. The brioche added substance, the squash purée gave a mild, sweet note, and the Hokkaido uni was rich and creamy.
The hotate (scallop) was presented in its shell with celery root purée and topped with seaweed and buckwheat. A small clear cup of soup – made from the scallop muscle – had a delicious brininess.
Another favourite dish was the foie gras. It was an unusual combination: the perfectly cooked foie gras had just a hint of pink, and it came with a chestnut purée that was much more interesting than the usual pairing of apple or another type of tart fruit.
All of the dishes up to this bite, with the exception of the morcilla, were Japanese influenced. But the ebi with farro, cooked with the head juices, tasted more Spanish/Argentinian, primarily because of the thin slices of intense, chewy chorizo. We would have been happy with a larger portion of that one, too.
The last savoury dish was disappointing. We were first shown the beef as the whole piece was being cooked over charcoal. It was then presented to us in slices, with beef sauce poured over the top. To the side of the plate was Japanese black garlic and some freeze-dried soy sauce that we were meant to dip the meat into. The beef was so highly marbled that it wobbled when I shook the plate. But it was like eating soft, unseasoned fat – it needed more seasoning than the sauce and freeze-dried soy sauce provided; some flaky sea salt would have been perfect. The portion size – four thick slices – was too large because of the fattiness of the meat; I had a hard time eating it all.
The meal was redeemed with desserts – all of them delicious. We were first served a palate cleansing cup of mandarin juice from France, before moving on to the first dessert of sake ice cream, Cointreau, cinnamon and wonderfully sweet black figs from Saga.
Next came smooth and creamy panna cotta, served in a hollowed-out Akizuki pear, with yoghurt foam and pear granita. If I was feeling too full after the beef, this dessert was so refreshing I could have eaten more. Candyfloss – just enough to eat without overwhelming us – was a whimsical finish to the meal.
Haku, Shop OTG04, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 3-27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2115 9965. About HK$1,400 without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area: