19 August, 2019
Eat & Drink

Honjo: A Thoroughly Modern Japanese Dining Experience

19 August, 2019

Eclectic Japanese cuisine meets lush interiors in Pirata group’s latest venture, Honjo.

District: Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Cuisine: Japanese
How much: Small plates and raw range between $80 to $180; sushi and sashimi between $65 to $210 (for two pieces) and $170 to $990 (for platters); hot dishes between $180 and $490; and tempura from $90 to $420; cocktails start at $110 with sake from $68 to $1,450 (premium) per glass
Must order: Lobster Tempura with Wasabi Aioli; Broccolini Tempura; Wagyu with Chorizo Oil and Crispy Quinoa (raw); Corn with Miso Butter
The best for: An intimate date night or classy girls night out

Hot on the heels of punk-inspired temakeria TMK comes yet another Japanese offering from Pirata Group. However, in contrast to its loud rebellious neighbour downstairs, Honjo offers a more refined take on the cuisine. From the lush intimate interior (featuring contemporary retro furnishings and vintage ornaments), to the extensive selection of wines and sake, Honjo was made for sophisticated dinner parties and intimate date nights. Food-wise, the restaurant prides itself on serving unexpected flavours which celebrate seasonal ingredients. Think creative hot dishes, alongside tried and true classics such as sashimi, tempura and more. But does it live up to the hype?

In short, depending on what you order, absolutely yes. While Honjo claims to adopt an inclusive food culture, mastering an array of dishes instead of focusing on one speciality, we felt that certain aspects of the menu were stronger than others. The tempura, raw and vegetable options in particular were standouts for us. Paired with a delicious yet potent cocktail (or three), it’s a solid recipe for a full and happy evening out.

To start, we were treated to a selection of small and raw plates. Steamed Edamame with Sea Salt ($35), Hamachi with Rocket butter, White Soy and Yukari ($140), and a Daikon Carpaccio ($90) were refreshingly light starters, setting us up nicely for the more substantial tempura and hot dishes to come. We also tried the Fruit Tomato with Arbequina oil, Yuzu Gelee and Hojiso which, though pretty (read very Insta-friendly), was perhaps more style over substance.

On the flip side, the Raw Wagyu with Chorizo Oil, Asahi Tosazu, Crispy Quinoa and Chives ($150) was one of our favourites of the night. A perfect representation of Honjo’s commitment to delivering new dynamic flavours, the chorizo oil played beautifully with the fatty, umami-rich wagyu. And the crunchy quinoa added an unexpected dimension of texture to the dish.

Next, it was on to the classics: sushi and tempura. It’s interesting to note that Honjo points to its sashimi as a focal point – but in our opinion, the tempura offering was far superior. While there was certainly a good range of sushi and sashimi available (all served with fresh wasabi), we ultimately found it to be an unmemorable part of our meal.

The tempura on the other hand, is a different story. Wrapped in a light crisp batter and served with a selection of interesting condiments (including a salt flight featuring matcha salt, wasabi salt and pink salt), this is where the chef’s creativity really comes into its own. Do yourself a favour and order the Lobster with Wasabi Aioli ($420) and Broccolini with Truffle Soy ($80). We promise you won’t be disappointed.

Tempura aside, we were also quite taken with the Charred Corn with Miso Butter, Shichimi and Parmesan ($75). A simple dish done well, it was packed full of sweet, smoky, buttery flavours.  Other picks we have our eye on for next time include the Whole Seabass served with Kombu, Scallion Pesto, Sesame Oil and Teriyaki ($380), and the Mentaiko Udon made up of Aglio e Olio, Chilli and Shiso ($130).

To accompany our meal, cocktails, wine and sake were the order of the day (much to the disdain of our heads the next morning!). We loved the Nomunication ($150) – a heady mix of gin, champagne and lavender. Special mention must also go to our dessert. We tried the Kuromitsu Cheesecake ($110), which came topped with an apple pie-esque filling and pineapple cinnamon sorbet. Definitely worth saving room for!

Our verdict: Beautiful interiors and attentive service make Honjo a true dining experience. The vibe is definitely fancy enough for an occasion, while the mid to high-range prices preclude this from being a casual dinner spot (for that, opt for TMK downstairs). As for the food, we’d say to skip the sushi and sashimi options in favour of the tempura, raw and hot dishes. This is where Honjo’s all-encompassing menu truly shines.

Honjo, 1/F, 77-91 Queen’s Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, www.honjo.hk

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