Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hong Kong - Ootoya Restaurant (大户屋)

In today's times, when all you see is doom and gloom in the media, you can't help but feel that frugality is a prudent thing. Whether you have a cushy job and have time to spend (just because there isn't much business to be done) or whether you've been restructured out of a job, the general sentiment is still very much how to stretch that dollar.

In these times, places that offer value for your money tend to pack them in. Even in the absence of much fanfare, Ootoya opened to a very healthy crowd. The outlet on the 3rd floor of the Shama Serviced Apartments across from Times Square was swotting flies at 6.30pm but by 7.15pm, you would have to wait for a table.

My first experience with Ootoya was in Bangkok back in 2006 and to be honest, I wasn't blown away. But since this is spanking new in HK, I thought I would give it a shot.

The potato croquette was very creamy on the inside of a crisp shell and no wonder, Ootoya is well known for its Tonkatsu dishes - pork, chicken and even oysters.

Tofu salad was also very good as the tofu was not just soft, but had a nice bite to it akin to yuba from Kyoto. Accompanied by seaweed and silver fish which added taste, enhanced by a light soya sauce vinaigrette and dusted with toasted sesame seeds, very appetising.

The steamed clams (sans shells) on rice with miso was fresh and tasty, even if a tad on the salty side. Not spectacular but makes for a hearty dish on a cool spring evening.

The Hambaagu steak used good quality mince and did not lose its nice beefiness in the mincing process. Served hot on a bed of fragrant onion rings on a hot plate, sizzling with the meat juices mixed with an ume like sauce, it was not difficult to wolf down all with a steaming bowl of rice.

To end, the dessert looked like any other from a Japanese restaurant - matcha ice cream with Azuki red beans. But the trick is to use the spoon and dip right to the bottom and mix all the ingredients by folding towards the centre of the glass. Only then can you reach and savour the glorious chunks of sponge cake and black sugar syrup and tofu with the ice cream and beans in every mouthful. This in itself, is worth a return visit.

Exceptional quality for your dollar!

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