Iwanami's specialty is tempura. In Hong Kong, my best tempura experiences have been at Inagiku and Ten Yoshi. I have been told at some of Iwanami's chefs hail from Ten Yoshi and judging from the quality and the name (in Chinese) of Iwanami, I would not be surprised.
Like Ten Yoshi, they do a lunch special which is high in value. My lunch companion ordered the tempura set while I decided to be healthy and order the sushi set (of course with full knowledge that we would pick from each other). Both sets come with salad, chawanmushi, miso soup and a choice of coffee or fruit. The good thing with the sets are that you get to choose the types of sushi or tempura you want. There are a couple of rules with not repeating an order but otherwise, there is no detraction from the value. And judging from the crowd, most people would agree. If you're very hungry or have a healthy appetite, the 16-piece sushi/tempura combination may be your thing.
The tempura selection was certainly wide so no matter what your preference, you can make up the 9 pieces pretty easily. The sushi selection was a little paler by comparison but still very decent so again, a nice cross-section of the usual favourites were available for ordering.
The tempura pieces worthy of mention were the wide fish selection - all of which were very fresh, and sweet. The tempura coat was fragrant but light and made for a good contrast to the freshness of the seafood.
The shrimp tempura was also very good, and the separately battered and tempura-ed prawn heads were a delight to savour. No time to worry about cholesterol intake! The uni tempura was also brilliant - fresh uni wrapped with crisp seaweed then battered for deep frying was an excellent burst of textures and flavours. If not for the rules, one could eat this over and over again!
The specialty of the sushi here is the chef dips the sushi pieces in a soya-based sauce prior to serving. This allows the soy to be integrated into the sushi piece and comes across as more harmonious than if you dip it yourself. A nice touch. Of course, if you like an unusually high salt intake, you can request for more soya at your seat!
From the sushi selection, my favourites were the live local shrimp - which was fatter than the usual and with a bit more bite (it's not as soft as sweet shrimp) but more obvious in its prawniness.
The sweet shrimp's sweetness was a nice follow through from the local in giving the palate a pleasant finish to the prawn course.
Uni sushi was not the best but creamy enough and fresh.
The toro was also decent for a "lunch cut".
But the winner was the negi toro roll, which was a nice delicate balance of flavours of the toro, spring onion and seaweed.
Certainly a good place to lunch in the cosy restaurant - get a place at the counter to watch the action although you must not mind the smell of tempura oil on your clothes and hair when you leave. If you go for dinner (which I have yet to), my impression from lunch is just to go on a tempura frenzy and forget the sushi (which is a little more common in quality).
Iwanami Japanese Restaurant
Iwanami Japanese Restaurant
9/F, Continental Diamond Plaza
525 Hennessy Road
Tel: 852-2591 1159