Some gastronomy experiences are so fantastic that it would be futile to try and put into words exactly what made them sublime – and such is the case for my meal at Sushi Shikon, where I frankly don’t know enough adjectives that would fully capture and describe each delicious morsel!
Formerly known as Sushi Yoshitake, Sushi Shikon has now been awarded three Michelin stars, just like the original Sushi Yoshitake in Tokyo. However, there is a sticking point to this sushi experience – the price. My eyeballs almost popped out of their sockets to see only two prices: $2,000 per person for the Lunch Menu or $3,500 for the Omakase Dinner Menu. There’s no choice in what you order, you get what you are given… and at that price tag, you hope you get given something good!
Thankfully, it is more than good – a superb offering of twelve nigiri sushi pieces, followed by soup and dessert in the most intimate of settings. Sushi Shikon has only eight seats at their sushi counter and a six-seat private room at its home in the unassuming Mercer Hotel in Sheung Wan; the entire experience feels as though you could be in Japan, shut away from the outside world with nothing but the rhythmic sound of fresh wasabi being grated on a sharkskin grater in front of you.
After swotting up on the Sushi Etiquette page I’d been given, I had a bit of a worry over how to take photos swiftly and look elegant whilst eating! Apparently, sushi should be eaten within 30 seconds of being served and if the portion is too large for your mouth, you should ask the chef to cut it up rather than bite it into smaller portions yourself. Chef Yoshiharu Kakinuma also told us to eat the sushi with our hands as we would have a greater sensory experience, and that he would serve the “Shari” sushi rice at a softer consistency. Some of us already knew not to mix wasabi in with the soy sauce (I imagined us getting death-stares from the staff if we did!), and I was also interested to see that Sushi Shikon does not serve soft drinks as they “overwhelm the delicate flavours of sushi and disturb the ambience”.
All that aside, once everyone had settled in at the sushi counter, Chef Kakinuma began to weave his magic. We started with the outstanding steamed abalone, which was nothing like any abalone I had had before. Smooth, tender and almost steak-like, the succulence of the abalone went so well with its accompanying velvety liver sauce that I felt I needed to chew extra slowly to prevent the inevitable end of the mouthful! I can only describe this as a complete umami taste. Chef Kakinuma then brought a smile to my face by giving us a blob of their signature red vinegar sushi rice to mop up the remaining sauce.
Next was “tender octopus” – which should have been renamed “exquisitely tender”. My brain grappled with something to compare the taste to, and came up with pork belly. Who knew that octopus massaged and braised in sea salt could be this incredible?
As each sushi piece arrived, each of us became more excited. The marinated medium tuna was wonderful, but trumped by the outstanding fatty tuna, which by just one glance, I knew was going to be sublimely melty. The seasonal sushi roll of mackerel, ginger, shiso and braised Japanese squash skin was delightful; I loved the burst of shiso and contrasting texture of the pickled ginger. Sea urchin is one item I am not usually keen on, but this was so ridiculously fresh and chilled that it was almost like cool, fresh water with a delicate nutty flavour and no overpowering smell… by far the best I have ever had.
The salmon roe with Chef Kakinuma’s secret special sauce marinade and yuzu zest was a balance of subtle flavours, whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the sensory experience of eating a tiger prawn with my fingers and becoming attuned to its bouncy texture. The golden eye snapper was beautiful and the conger eel exuded a wonderful charcoal smoky flavour, a testament to its stint on the bamboo leaf grill.
The meal ended sweetly with a sponge-cake textured Tokyo traditional Castella egg, soup and a light, fruity dessert.
This was absolutely the finest Japanese meal I have had in Hong Kong – but I’m not sure if I can bring myself to repeat the experience at such a price, even if it can be explained by daily deliveries of the freshest fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market. I’m sure you can think of better uses for $2,000, but the lure of world-class sushi without getting on a plane to Japan might be just too attractive to pass up. In any case, if you do decide to bite the bullet, you certainly won’t leave Sushi Shikon feeling cheated!
Sushi Shikon The Mercer, 29 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
2643 6800 www.sushi-shikon.com
Check out more foodie adventures from Michelle on her blog, Chopstixfix!