What's in Season? In Search of Hong Kong's Best Kaiseki Sets
Japanese haute cuisine gets a summer makeover with Hong Kong’s top kaiseki sets—the multi-course tradition which celebrates fresh, seasonal produce.
Perched neatly on the 101/F of ICC, Inakaya’s summer kaiseki is an orchestration of vibrant colors and intricate flavors designed to pop on your palate. Headed by chef Nozawa Masayoshi, who brings to Hong Kong 20 years of experience studying the art of kaiseki cuisine in Tokyo, Inakaya’s set dinner takes guests on a journey through the aromas of the season, from the seasonal fatty grilled ayu fish, to conger eel stewed in tea or traditional steamed sea eel meant to restore energy and vitality. For something a little more robust, don’t miss the assorted deep fried platter with tanaba crab and almond, scallop roll and kisu fish roll in Kyoto tofu skin. Shop A, 101/F, ICC, 1 Austin Rd. West, West Kowloon, 2972-2666.
Traditionally kaiseki is left up to the chef to showcase the foods that are at the prime of their season, but at Nadaman in the Kowloon Shangri-La you can choose your star ingredient, with several kaiseki sets on the menu (from $880 per person) including beef shabu shabu, sushi kaiseki, tempura kaiseki and wagyu steak kaiseki. If you want to go the conventional (and most premium) route, opt for the Choricho Omakase ($1,680) which leaves your meal entirely in the chef’s capable hands. This month, chef Takao Kojima is focusing the kaiseki around two beautiful ingredients: hamo pike eel (traditionally eaten by Japanese in July) and Kyoto Kamonasu eggplant. Lower Level II, Kowloon Shangri-La, 64 Mody Rd., East Tsim Sha Tsui, 2733-8751.
A gem from Japan’s food capital Osaka, Kashiwaya’s artistic and seasonal menus have earned it recognition around the world, including the coveted three-Michelin-star status. This summer, you can sample chef Atsushi Takahashi’s seasonal kaiseki in a seven-course lunch ($1,000) or ten-course dinner ($2,300-4,000) menu, with premium ingredients including octopus ocellatus from Hyogo prefecture, fat greenling from Aomori prefecture, and pen shell clam from Kyushu. The meal is punctuated by an environment that’s just as stunning, with sliding doors, shoji paper screens and a Japanese-style waiting room creating a relaxed and tranquil haven to experience the finest in Japanese haute cuisine. 8/F, On Lan St., Central, 2520-5218, jp-kashiwaya.com
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Drawing inspiration from Kyoto with its Japanese embroidered doorway, natural color palette and tableware sourced from Japan, Gin Sai is a serene temple to experience the art of Japanese dining. The kitchen is helmed by head chef Ogawa, who previously sharpened his knives at Hana Kitcho in Kyoto as well as the Michelin-starred Wagyu Kaiseki Den. The specialty here is seiromushi—a method of steaming fresh ingredients without any seasoning, used to showcase the excellence of the ingredients, from Kurobuta pork to A4 wagyu beef and seasonal vegetables. Experience the simple beauty of seiromushi, then delve deeper into the robust flavors of Japanese cuisine in robatayaki, tempura and sukiyaki throughout the omakase kaiseki menu, topped off with an array of French-Japanese desserts. $560 tasting menu. Shop 3-7, G/F, The Oakhill, 32-38 Cross Lane, Wan Chai, 2574-1118, ginsai.com.hk
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Wagyu Kaiseki Den
You have to be pretty confident in kaiseki to name your restaurant after it—and that’s just what the chefs at Wagyu Kaiseki Den are: skilled and precise artisans of their craft. Time-consuming, laborious preparations are the norm here, and the long open kitchen allows you to watch the chefs at work, churning out such dishes as sweet corn tofu with caviar, crabmeat with taro stems in a fish broth, and charcoal-grilled sea bream with shiitake mushroms and yuzu for the summer tasting menu. Of course, you can’t miss out on the wagyu, with the premium A5 quality beef stored in giant bronze lockers behind the chefs, just waiting to be thinly sliced and grilled over charcoal for smoky, melt-in-your-mouth beefy heaven. From $1,880 per person. 263 Hollywood Rd., Sheung Wan, 2851-2820, wagyukaisekiden.com.hk
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One of the more affordable places to go for kaiseki in town, Ueda shines when it comes to clean and simple flavors ramped up with some interesting ingredient combinations and creative twists. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another place in the city to enjoy a 13-dish kaiseki course for $980, while still getting your fill of premium imported ingredients such as kinki fish, lobster, foie gras, abalone and wagyu beef. For the summer season, dine on light and delicate dishes such as stewed chicken in white miso sauce, sliced stewed eel in a tangerine dressing, and potato tempura with a matcha and mirin dipping sauce. 3/F, Stanley 11, 11 Stanley St., Central, 2327-4482.