Deep-fried and grilled skewers, plus other traditional Japanese fare at this hidden gem
With 12 locations in Osaka and Tokyo, Jan Jan Kushikatsu, a renowned authentic kushikatsu (deep fried meat and vegetable skewers) restaurant, has now opened up shop in Hong Kong. Tucked away on the second floor of 100 Queen’s Road East and taking up a cosy 1,000 square foot space, it sits 35 diners in total; the perfect place for a small, intimate gathering or dinner for two, be it date night or a girly catch up.
A traditional Osaka Izakaya (which literally means ‘stay sake shop’), Jan Jan Kushikatsu is run by Chef Hideki Abeyama, an Osaka native with over 10 years of training at Jan Jan Osaka. The warmly lit space is furnished with a mix of traditional and wood interior for an edgy street-feel. I loved the intimate dining area in the corner that had been reserved for the Sassy Girls; we took our shoes off for a real Japanese dining experience on the low, cushioned benches. There were even curtains for extra privacy, which we opted to keep open so we could enjoy the chilled-out vibe.
Despite the name, Jan Jan Kushikatsu is not just a place to go for skewers, with plenty of non-skewer items on the menu. To start, we were served a selection of their recommended dishes: Karaage Chicken ($30), and the unassuming Tomato Salad ($44). I don’t think I’ve ever had tomatoes as sweet and as vibrantly red as these. The dish came with sugar for dipping, but the tomatoes, straight from Japan, were bursting with so much juicy flavour and natural sweetness that this wasn’t necessary.
Next up was the Dashimaki Tamago ($45), a savoury egg and dashi roll made fresh every time, and a dish so delicate that only the Head Chef is allowed to prepare it. I was expecting this to taste like a plain old omelette, but this was not the case; it was sweet and light, not rubbery at all. With a smooth and silky melt-in-your-mouth texture, everyone had a second helping of this one!
Onto the stars of the show – the skewers. Jan Jan’s Kushikatsu are different to tempura in that they are cooked in high-quality Japanese oil, and with expert breading, thin batter and special dipping sauce. We sampled a range of deep-friend skewers, which included Chicken & Shiso Maki ($24), Kiss Fish ($32) and Cheese ($21). The chicken and the fish were both surprisingly moist and the despite being deep-friend, quite light too, perfect with a cold beer. As for the cheese… it was the absolutely delicious but definitely on the heavier side. An indulgent bite of oozy, cheesy goodness with a crispy exterior – a must-try for cheese lovers.
The Asparagus ($35 for 1) and the giant lollipop-looking Lotus Root skewers ($27 for 1) were both a bit too deep-fried for me, but they went down a treat with the others… fun to eat, too! Dessert came early with the Ice-Cream Sponge Cake Kushikatsu ($26 for 1) – yep, deep-fried ice cream skewers! I think the girls would have enjoyed these more had they not consumed so many other deep-fried skewers prior.
I usually steer clear of deep-fried food, so was happy to see that there were plenty Kushiyaki – non-deep fried skewers on offer as well. I loved the juicy Chicken Meatball ($27 for 1), complete with a sweet-glazed sauce. Along with Winnie, the vegetarian in the Sassy Team, I was also glad to get some veg in with the meaty Mushroom skewers ($19 for 1), made complete with the sweet and savoury dipping sauce.
We were stuffed by the time the mains arrived, so make sure you don’t go overboard with these moreish skewers! You don’t want to miss out on the mouthwatering mains, starting with the crispy, nutty Grilled Onigiri ($23); these reminded me of pan-fried rice musubis, sans the seaweed.
Then came the Salmon Chatsuke ($26), salmon and tea rice in a light fish broth. My favourite of all the mains, I loved the lightness of the broth and pillow of soupy rice, paired with a small portion of tender, just-cooked salmon – a really light and clean dish, you’ll feel healthier with just one bite.
Next up was the Japanese Green Tea Soba Cold Noodles ($38), which were a hit with everyone too… who doesn’t love this Japanese signature? It was nice to have a noodle dish that was light and not at all oily, either, especially after all the fried food!
It was a Monday night so we skipped the alcohol, but we’ll have to go back to try the selection of world-famous Japanese beer, sake and soju (rice-liquor that’s similar to vodka).
If you’re after affordable, quality Japanese food in HK, look no further than Jan Jan Kushikatsu. Indulgent and health conscious eaters alike can meet here and will both be happy. And a restaurant where you can actually hear what your company is saying is a rare find in the city!
Jan Jan Kushikatsu, 2/F, 100 Queen’s Rd East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, 2157 1408