Japanese food is without a doubt one of my favourites. Not only does it always seem fresher and healthier than other cuisines, but there are also so many flavours and so much variety that it would be almost impossible to tire of it. At Sushi Tsuraku, a new Japanese restaurant on Stanley Street, this could not be more true.
This fun little restaurant specialises in Omakase, which essentially means chef’s menu; you’ll get small plate after small plate of whatever your particular chef wishes to serve you that night. Each of the four chefs is advised to stick within the guidelines of Omakase, but other than that, they are practically given free rein to serve whatever they wish. Obviously one chef’s wishes may differ to another’s, so you are, in effect, getting your own unique menu designed especially for you. The chef will ask if there is anything you don’t eat, and then you just let him work his magic. It is this philosophy that gives the restaurant its name, which translates to “emerging happiness.”
Most of the seats in this 30-seater restaurant surround the open kitchen, behind which the four incredibly talented chefs prepare your fantastic meal. There are no barriers, nor any seafood fridges obstructing your view; it is just you and your chef, so that conversation can flow freely and you can watch exactly what is going on behind the counter.
The first of our appetisers created by our fabulous chef Sze Nok was a beautiful little dish of scallops with sea urchin, ‘fruit’ tomatoes and a jellified soup. The flavours were incredibly delicate yet interesting and we immediately knew that this would be a meal to remember.
To follow came a three-part dish comprising of radish with flounder and vinegar, cooked oysters with homemade miso sauce, and black beans, which we were advised to eat in that order. The radish with flounder had a slightly sour taste, which contrasted nicely with the delicious, earthy oysters. The sweet black beans are traditionally served in Japan in the New Year to bring good luck to diners.
The three sashimi dishes that followed – halibut with cherry and lime sauce, amberjack with truffle dressing, and white shrimp with crab and sea urchin powder – had an even more creative side that completely wowed us. My favourite was the amberjack with truffle dressing and salty seaweed that melted beautifully in the mouth and left us all speechless.
Chef Sze Nok then prepared six different types of nigiri for us, all of which were like nothing I had ever tasted before. Personal favourites were the tuna with onion and sesame, the grilled toro and, our most favourite of all, the golden-eyed snapper with balsamic vinegar and Rice Krispies, grilled with a blowtorch right in front of us. The fish was all incredibly fresh and tender, each with its own unique flavour that rendered our untouched bowls of soya sauce totally useless.
After a bowl of deliciously salty salmon roe rice, we were presented with yet another spectacular dish – grilled golden-eyed snapper soup. The slow-cooked broth was lovely and warming right to the core, whilst the fish was absolutely exceptional.
By this point we could barely manage another mouthful, so we shared some slow-cooked kinki fish and some grilled red jacket with chestnut and pickled lotus. Both lived up to the high bar that the rest of the meal had set.
To finish, rather than being served a generic fruit platter or green tea ice cream that is synonymous with Japanese restaurants, Che Sze Nok had something even better up his sleeve: almond ‘tofu’ with grated chestnut and green tea powder, sweetened with rice tea and Japanese honey. This dessert was just sweet enough and was wonderfully light, which was a blessing after so much food!
The restaurant receives five weekly deliveries of fresh seafood from Japan, depending what is in season and, of course, what the fishermen were able to catch. The menus will therefore be different from one night to the next. If you have a particular favourite, however, or are enticed by any of the dishes I mentioned above, just tell your chef and he’ll do his utmost to create it just how you like it.
Set lunches start from $200, whilst the set Omakase dinner menu is either $880 or $1280, depending on how hungry you are! The service is also excellent, allowing diners to form a personal relationship with the staff, particularly their chef. Sushi Tsuraku deserves more credit than just a sushi restaurant; it is like an Omakase private kitchen that is bound to amaze you.
Sushi Tsuraku 9/F., Stanley 11, Central, 11 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong
Check out more from Ale on her fab blog, The Dim Sum Diaries!