A tasty US$50 Japanese grill feast at Toripon in Hong Kong. Shame the dishes came all at once
- The chef at new Causeway Bay restaurant sent out nine dishes in five minutes, and we ended up eating cold and soggy food
- Deep-fried lotus root and chicken meatballs were among the stand-out dishes
At many Japanese restaurants that specialise in a specific type of dish, I book counter seating whenever possible. I like to chat with the chef and watch the food being prepared.
The drawback is that it really only works if there are just two of you, because it’s hard to have a conversation with more if you’re all sitting side-by-side.
So that’s the reason three of us found ourselves at a table at Toripon, a new yakitori restaurant in Causeway Bay.
My biggest complaint about our meal is that too much food came too quickly. At the counter, a chef – a good, helpful, watchful chef who takes pride in what he’s serving – wouldn’t do that because the food gets cold before it can be eaten.
If you’re at a table, it’s harder for the chef to time the cooking of everything – but still, he should know that if nine dishes are served in the space of five minutes, the food won’t be eaten at its optimal temperature. We had to tell the waiter, who occasionally identified the dishes incorrectly, to stop serving for a while.
We enjoyed the deep-fried lotus root cod roe mochi (HK$75). We were told to eat this first (although it was served third) so it wouldn’t get soggy. It was unusual: the ingredients were sandwiched together, battered, fried, then topped with grated daikon (radish) and katsuobushi (dried bonito shavings). The mochi (rice cake) was chewy, the grated lotus root was crisp and the cod roe added richness.
Deep-fried chicken cartilage was crunchy, if a little oily. A chilled Japanese tomato (HK$68) was not that sweet when we first tasted it, but as we ate more of the grilled chicken skewers, we appreciated the fruit’s acidity, which refreshed our palates.
There are two types of tsukune on offer, and we tried the tsukune kushi (HK$48) which had a choice of four toppings; we chose the mentaiko (fish roe) sauce. The small, round chicken meatballs were more delicate than ordinary tsukune, and had a lighter flavour.
Of the skewers, the only one we didn’t finish was chicken liver (HK$28/skewer) which was bitter. Chicken skin (HK$28) was light, but could have been charred longer. Chicken heart (HK$38) was intense and chewy, while the gizzard (HK$38) had a bouncy texture.
Chicken wings (HK$38) were meaty, salty and delicious, but would have been better if we could have eaten them hot. Chicken tail (HK$35) – our favourite skewer – had crisp skin and fat.
For vegetables, the Japanese leeks (HK$42) were soft and sweet. Corn (HK$36) was nicely charred, and had been cooked long enough to be easy to bite from the cob. Japanese green peppers (HK$36) had a mild flavour.
Yaki onigiri (HK$42) was my favourite savoury dish of the night. It didn’t say on the menu that the grilled rice ball would come in chicken soup, but I’m so glad it did. It was a delicious combination: a smoky flavour from the grilled rice, and the soup was rich and comforting.
Desserts were good, too.
The buttered crispy sweet potato with vanilla ice cream (HK$65) came piping hot in a generous serving, and was just mildly sweet. The house-made jelly dessert warabimochi (HK$45) came dusted with kinako (soybean flour) and was soft and subtle.
Toripon, 26/F Soundwill Plaza 2, Midtown, 1-29 Tang Lung St, Causeway Bay, tel: 2304 6088.
About HK$410 (US$52) without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area