New Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong: kushikatsu – skewers you’ll want to come back to at JunG39 Japan
Served at the correct leisurely pace and with excellent coating and frying, the skewers at JunG39 were mostly delicious, and there was a surprise with one of the best Japanese curry dishes we’ve ever tasted
As soon as we finished our meal at JunG39 Japan, my guest started planning when she would come back with her children.
Unfortunately for her, and them, the restaurant opens about the time they’ll be getting ready for bed: it’s a late-night spot that’s only open from 6.30pm to 4am.
I was pleased to hear that the chef was from Osaka because that’s where I first tasted kushikatsu – Japanese fried skewers of meat and vegetables – and the two have been irrevocably linked in my mind ever since. It is also where the concept was supposedly created.
We ordered a lot of skewers (and other dishes) which were served, correctly, at a leisurely pace, as kushikatsu – called kushiage in many other parts of Japan – is considered drinking food.
We saw many skewers being prepared for other customers, who seemed to be regulars, as we sat at the long counter in front of the open kitchen, and our friendly waitresses were happy to tell us what the dishes were when we spotted something that interested us.
With kushikatsu, the coating and frying are just as important as the ingredients being cooked. The coating here managed to stay crisp and light even when left to cool slightly. The frying, too, was well done – the items were hot but not overcooked.
While we liked most of the skewers, our favourite was the Japanese egg with pork belly (HK$40 per skewer). The thin slice of pork was there just to add flavour; the whole point of the dish was the egg. It looked like a hard-boiled egg, but after we bit into the firm white, we found the centre was soft and oozing.
Oyster with pork belly (HK$40) was also good, with the oyster meat moist and delicate. Lotus root (HK$12) was earthy and firm, while with the onion (HK$12), the frying brought out the sweetness. Shishito pepper (HK$12) had a deep, green flavour.
The tender squid (HK$18) was outshone by the scallop (HK$18) – one of the dishes we saw being served to the other customers, which was succulent and sweet, and came with a delicious, very onion-y tartare sauce.
We disliked the corn (HK$20) which had too much batter, and the sakura shrimp (HK$45), which tasted fishy.
Of the non-skewered dishes, cold bean curd (HK$35) – soft-textured tofu topped with ginger, spring onions and soy – and the sliced tomato salad (HK$35) were cooling accompaniments to the fried dishes.
The G39 Curry (HK$78) was one of the best Japanese curry dishes we’ve tasted. The surprisingly spicy sauce was excellent, as was the rice, and it was served with two skewers – one of thick, juicy mushrooms, the other of fried fatty pork – and really good pickles.
I really wish the curry was available as a lunch dish; we’d visit just for this.
JunG39 Japan, 17/F Circle Plaza, 499 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2143 6777. About HK$275 without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area: