Hong Kong is home to Japanese restaurants galore – yakitori, robatayaki, sushi, ramen, teppanyaki… you name it! What many of these restaurants fail to master, however, is a comprehensive menu suitable for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, a menu that offers incredible seafood and meat options as well as more than a few dishes that appeal to the veggie lovers amongst us too.
I’m clearly no veggie, but I do have a lot of vegetarian friends, and sometimes dining with them at Japanese restaurants is a boring and unsatisfying experience – to the extent that I actually end up avoiding Japanese outlets. Harakan-S, a Japanese fine dining restaurant in the heart of Causeway Bay, is trying to change this.
The newly renovated restaurant exudes a calm relaxing feel amidst all the hustle and bustle of Causeway Bay, with beautiful potted plants dotted with colourful butterflies adorning the walls. It has recently introduced its ‘Green Dining’ menu, offering more exciting and unusual vegetarian dishes and as an added incentive, Harakan-S does ‘Veggie Wednesdays’ with 50% off selected dishes too!
Having never been to Harakan-S before, we thought it only right to sample a variety of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian delights to cover all bases, starting with the veggies. I feel that a salad must excite me or I consider it a waste of stomach space… and the two salads we were served as appetisers, the Okinawa Barafu Salad and the Kumamoto Oyster Salad with homemade dressing, were certainly exciting! The former is made with the most interesting leaves I have ever seen; they appeared to be covered in droplets of water (or diamonds in Jaime’s opinion), but that is actually how the leaf, which can only be found in the Japanese region of Okinawa, grows. The texture was similar to that of cucumber with slightly less of a crunch, filling my mouth instantly with the refreshing taste of summer. The second salad was made with Oyster leaves, which interestingly do taste like oysters due to being grown in soil that has been infused with oyster shells – bizarre but it works!
Following this, an enormous platter of sashimi was presented before us including toro, shrimps, scallops, yellowtail, salmon and aji, my favourites being the melt-in-the-mouth salmon and the paper-thin aji. The seafood, all flown in from Japan, is so wonderfully fresh, and the fact that it is served on a mound of ice keeps it even fresher.
Individual assorted platters of sushi awaited our excited bellies next: salmon, fluke and snapper nigiri, Wagyu and sweet shrimp rolls, and California hand rolls, all again made with the freshest seafood. The one that particularly stood out for me was the Wagyu and sweet shrimp roll – the contrast in flavours was intense and the delicate textures worked together perfectly.
For vegetarians, Harakan-S doesn’t just serve boring cucumber sushi rolls; instead, there’s black truffle vegetable maki or Okinawa bitter gourd tempura maki. Although the flavour of the black truffle wasn’t nearly as evident as I would have liked, the roll had a satisfying delicacy that worked well. The bitter gourd maki was exactly that: bitter. Personally I wasn’t taken by the gourd part, but the rice and vegetable stuffing was delicious.
The seafood Maitake teapot soup was divine: cosy, comforting and flavoursome, dotted with tangy goji berries. Top points for presentation too!
A downsized plate of salt-grilled Wagyu A5 steak followed. The beef was cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth, but unfortunately the same could not be said for the vegetables, which (apart from the mushrooms) were all somewhat undercooked.
For dessert, which obviously fits into its own stomach compartment, we had a yuzu crème brûlée and a lychee panna cotta. Both were light and delicate whilst also being comforting and indulgent. Of the two, I preferred the panna cotta, which had the extra excitement of lychee jelly and a topping of delicious “fairy floss”, as I have now been taught to call it by our Ozzie intern Charlotte. Australians, what are we going to do with them?!
Harakan-S is more than just a sushi restaurant; it offers all the classics, executed to perfection, plus more. Vegetarians are really catered for, and are given more choices than they can probably handle! Prices (except on Veggie Wednesday) match the style and sophistication of the restaurant so don’t expect a cheap meal. What you can expect, however, are unique tasty dishes served in a beautiful setting by friendly staff.
Harakan-S Japanese Dining Room Shop 311, 3/F, Lee Gardens Two, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay
2882 8616 www.harakan.com.hk/
Check out more from Ale on her fab blog, The Dim Sum Diaries!