Bar review: laid-back Ozu Bar puts a serious spin on Japanese liquor
The vibe: cool yet laid back, Ozu Bar was created by a group of friends and has more character than a lot of its neighbours. At 10pm on a Friday the place was packed, but the staff kept things flowing smoothly. The bar's Japanese roots show in its decor, with graffiti murals and neon-like lighting, and there's non-stop theatre from the bartenders.
The drinks: Ozu is serious about Japanese liquor. There's an impressive array of sakes, helpfully listed by type (aroma, mellowness, etc), Japanese whiskies and beers. Sake also features in the signature cocktails. The Sakeila (HK$100), a margarita with sake, tequila, lime juice and passion fruit, was served in a traditional wooden ladle (prompting a fellow drinker to ask "How are you going to drink THAT?"). The Sakura (cherry brandy, Cointreau, plum wine and rose, HK$110) was pink and served in three little round glass bowls representing cherry blossom. Only the Shogun Assassin (sake, midori, green chartreuse, lemon and passion fruit, HK$110) came in a regular glass.
The Sakura was too sweet for my taste and while the other ingredients were detectable, the rose was so dominant it felt like drinking shower gel — my companion liked it more than I did. The Sakeila and Shogun Assassin were better, although we couldn't detect any passion fruit in either of them. The alcohol level in all three drinks was low, which might explain why most people seemed to be sticking to wine and beer. The snacks we tried from the Japanese-inspired food menu were delicious and prepared with real care.
The verdict: the hip but friendly venue is a refreshing addition to the SoHo bar scene for those who want to explore Japanese drinks, like their cocktails, more decorative than potent, or are just feeling nostalgic for Tokyo. The outstanding food is a big plus and the 4pm to 8pm happy hour makes Ozu a great option for chilling out after work.
Ozu Bar, 1 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 6179 0604. Open: Monday-Saturday 4pm-2am, Sunday 4pm-midnight