Promising playful dishes and an interactive, lively dining experience, TMK is the latest opening from Pirata Group.
District: Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
How much: Sharing plates range between $38 and $118; sushi and sashimi between $78 and $168; handrolls between $38 and $98; two set menus are also available for $288 and $398 per person
Must order: Chicken Karaage; Tuna Hotdog Handroll
The best for: Lively late-night dining
Located on the cusp of Sai Ying Pun, TMK is the latest opening by Hong Kong restaurateurs, Pirata Group. Only a month away from celebrating its fifth anniversary, the group already has city favourites such as Pici, Tokyolima and the OG, Pirata under its belt, but this is its first foray into Japanese cuisine. This new venture guarantees a lively atmosphere, complete with a punk-inspired décor and playlist, along with interesting twists on Japanese favourites. Short for temakeria, TMK specialises in handrolls, with its menu featuring both classic and slightly more modern offerings, along with a range of sushi, sashimi and sharing plates.
Promising playful dishes and an interactive, lively dining experience, TMK’s bold interiors are a far cry from the norm of sleek and minimalistic Japanese restaurants. With walls plastered with stickers and spray paint, and even an embellished Suzuki motorbike taking pride of place in the restaurant, TMK most definitely offers something new. The drinks menu is largely made up of sake offerings, with the restaurant serving an array of offerings, including its own house made blend. Surprisingly mellow and easy drinking, the house sake is available by the cup or bottle. Those looking for a more rowdy evening, can also opt to buy a round for the entire restaurant with its unique “Drinks On Me!” offering. Priced at $290, each and every guest will be poured a generous glass of sake, with boisterous cheers and the sound of the gong signalling that it’s time to drink.
Although drinking is clearly at the forefront of TMK’s message, the food on offer is still taken seriously. Along with a la carte options, two set menus are available. The “Denim” ($288 per person) is intended for those who are looking to enjoy a selection of plates, but concentrate on the sake offerings. And the “Leather” ($398 per person) promises to leave you more than satisfied.
We enjoyed a selection of plates, ranging from the fresh and traditional, to satisfyingly deep-fried and even downright wacky. The Karaage ($88) was a definite highlight for us. You can very rarely go wrong with an appetiser of fried chicken, and TMK’s take on the dish was exemplary. The chicken thigh was tender having been marinated overnight in sake, with plenty of flavour and spice coming from the moreish spicy yoghurt dip.
A deep fried offering that didn’t quite hit the same high notes for us was the Iberico Kushikatsu ($108). The lollipop of slow cooked pork was encased in a crisp breading, but we found the meat itself to be a little lacking in flavour and slightly too fatty for our personal tastes. Contrastingly, a dish that refreshed our palate was the Wagyu Tataki ($118), with calamansi soy, hot oil and pickled rakkyo. The soft beef coupled with the zingy, citric dressing was a delight.
When it comes to sushi, the seared salmon nigiri ($68) is sure to divide opinion. Deceptively simple in appearance, it will only become apparent once the sushi is popped into your mouth that the fish has been topped with a sprinkling of popping candy. This addition added a little texture and interest that wasn’t unwelcome in the familiar dish, but some may say that adding popping candy to sushi is a step too far in the inventive stakes.
However, when it came to sampling the restaurant’s namesake temaki, TMK did not disappoint. With both traditional and unique offerings, there’s plenty to be enjoyed. A classic rendition on offer is the Hamachi Tomato ($58), with yuzu kosho, red onion and coriander. The fresh fish had been generously lavished onto the rice cone, with the tang of yuzu, tomato, onion and coriander helping to keep the dish fresh and full of punchy flavour.
Sticking somewhat traditional, we also sampled the Soft Shell Crab roll ($68), served with wasabi mayo, cucumber and an abundance of tobiko (flying fish roe). It’s worth pointing out that all sushi, sashimi and tamaki at TMK is served with wasabi, but if you’re averse to the hot, mustard-like taste, you can ask the friendly waiters for your dishes to be made without (which was the case with me), without missing out on any of the flavour. Like the Hamachi, the soft shell was liberally adorned atop the rice, with extra richness coming from the mayo and roe.
The standout roll for us though, was perhaps the least authentic of the bunch. The Tuna Hotdog ($98) is a unique and delicious combination of tempura-fried Kalifornia roll, topped with spicy tuna. The result? A messy yet delicious dish that we didn’t know was missing from the Japanese dining scene. The tempura batter was key in keeping the balance in the dish, giving it a crisp exterior, without making it too heavy or greasy. As with the other rolls, the fresh fish generously adorned the dish, making sure that it was still the star, even with so much else going on. Although the temaki at TMK are strictly not to be cut, an exception is made for the Tuna Hotdog, which is definitely best shared – especially if you’re wanting to work your way through more of the menu.
To finish off your meal, TMK delivers with a nostalgic ice cream offering. As the only dessert currently on offer, we sampled the red bean and matcha tea flavour ice creams ($48 for three scoops), which were both pleasantly light. Though what made it really memorable was the treasure trove of toppings that accompanied the simple pud. The chest of sweet delights includes Maltesers, M&Ms, sprinkles, mini marshmallows and cereal treats, which the whole table delighted in sprinkling all over our frozen desserts.
Our verdict: The vibe at TMK is undoubtedly lively and will make for a fun night, however big your group is. We recommend heading to the restaurant later in the evening to get the true experience, as we’re sure this spot is best enjoyed when the tables are full and the sake is flowing freely. There is a variety of plates on offer, but we recommend going straight for the handrolls (and not missing out on the chicken karaage).
TMK is open now daily for lunch from 12pm to 2:3pm, and for dinner from 6pm to 11pm (11:30pm, Friday and Saturday). Walk-ins only.
TMK, Shops G & H, G/F and M/F, 77-91 Queens’s Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, www.tmk.hk
All images courtesy of TMK.