Is there a better meal than brunch? You can sleep late, eat mountains of food in the name of taking the edge off last night’s hangover, all whilst rehashing the misbehaviour that lead to those sore heads and enormous appetites in the first place. Recently though, I’ve been getting tired of the same old brunch spots… so when I heard that Japanese restaurant Taku was offering a special brunch menu this summer, I whipped down to try it out quicker than you can say wasabi!
Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong seem to generally fall into two categories, the sleek and super luxe or the very basic no-frills joints. Taku finds the perfect mix between the two – a cosy unassuming space perched on the edge of Soho offering premium quality Japanese cuisine at a price that won’t make your wallet wince. Service is speedy and efficient but the staff are also friendly, knowledgeable and happy to make recommendations.
Wander through the porch where framed vintage posters adorn the walls and a bicycle from the 20s is propped against the wall, and you’re immediately welcomed with a chorus of “Irasshaimase!”. An army of chefs skilfully slice, roll and chop in the open kitchen right in front of you whilst at the back of the ground floor and upstairs, slatted wooden screens create little booths – the perfect place for a sake-fuelled lazy weekend brunch (free-flow sake only costs an extra $50!).
Settling into a cosy corner where we could watch the action in the kitchen, we were feeling the effects of a few too many cocktails the night before so passed up on the sake and plumped for some incredibly delicious apple lemonades instead. Fruity and zingy with a fresh minty kick, I swear that they have magical hangover curing properties…
And then the food started!
Little bowls of edamame, a tomato and seaweed salad and miso soup rolled up first. The tomato salad was the standout of the trio – slices of juicy beef tomatoes sitting atop a bed of seaweed, perfectly complemented by the most moreish miso dressing.
Next, beautifully presented dishes of chilled tofu topped with salmon roe and shredded radish were laid before us. I’m not a huge tofu fan but as it’s a Taku speciality, made fresh in-house each morning, I decided to give it a try. Perfectly tasty with a smooth silky texture, it was nice if not something I’d order again. This opening salvo was rounded off with two pairs of yakitori – one chicken, one mushroom – and the chicken was particularly good, succulent and juicy coated in a sweet tangy smoky teriyaki.
Starters polished off, it was time to start on the maki rolls. The deal is that you can keep on ordering from the menu until you’re all maki-ed out and need to be rolled home! We were beginning to feel a little full from the array of starters but pulled ourselves together, got ordering and took on the maki roll challenge!
A procession of rolls began to arrive – spicy tuna, California with cucumber, spider crab and asparagus, prawn tempura… I started to lose count! The spider crab was particularly amazing: perfectly fried crispy soft shell crab and chunks of creamy avocado encased in expertly rolled nori and sushi rice, garnished with a deliciously naughty, slightly spicy mayonnaise.
Nibbling on what felt like my hundredth roll of deliciousness, I decided that there really isn’t a much better way to spend a lazy weekend afternoon and $288 for a veritable Japanese feast seems ridiculously good value. However, our Maki roll performance was decidedly lacklustre – only managing one round of the menu before we admitted defeat!
We headed back into Soho munching on the green tea chocolates that came with the bill and promising the friendly staff we’d be back soon. Next time, though, I’m upping my game – I won’t be eating for a week beforehand and it’s going to be a sake-fuelled affair…
The Sensational Summer Signature Maki Roll Brunch costs $288 (add $50 for free-flow sake) per person and is available every Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday from 12-3pm.
Taku G/F, 35 Elgin Street, SOHO, Central
2545 9966 www.taku.com.hk
Check out Natalie’s blog for all things food, fashion and fun, 3 Bad Mice.