Monday, March 4, 2013

Hong Kong - Sushi Sase

It is a refreshing change of scene from the usual sushi experience in Hong Kong.  Bright, airy with lots of space per diner at the sushi counter.  Very contemporary in feel unlike others who feel very much in a time warp from the 80s.  It was an all round Zen feel despite the busy corner in Central it is located at.  Perhaps it reminds Sase san of Sushi Zen, where he hailed from.  And of course, they have free wifi.  Never mind a password that read as long as superkallifragilistic espiallidocious.  Seriously.

Walnut Tofu
The amuse bouche of walnut tofu and spinach in a sesame sauce were both good but the tofu was a stand out for the essence of walnut captured in a a smooth yet slightly chewy piece of tofu, capped with a very well roasted nut to rid it of excess oils.  

Having made the choice of the Chef's Omakase set, we sat down to business.  At HK$1,580 this is serious business.  We didn't get Sase san since I booked late, but Chef Wai was very professional and had a good Japanese discipline about him.  Yes, the strong silent type.  That said, he does smile when presenting a new course.  Perhaps he was nervous since he did forget our pickles until we asked.

The raw food was a fresh selection of Flounder, Tuna (Maguro), Sea urchin, House-smoked fish, Octopus (Tako) and Snow crab.  

Sea Urchin
Sweet and creamy.  No condiments necessary.  Just pure unadulterated protein from the sea.

This was lightly steamed and finished with a sweet glace.  Tender and needs very little chewing, unlike products from lesser places.  The condiment of Yuzukosho added a spicy tang and gave it a different twist.

Snow crab
Fall off the shell freshness.  And very sweet.  The creamy roe was foie gras of the sea, packed with the salty sea and a nice contrast to the sweetness of the crab.

Deep fried Monk Fish
In the cooked food section, the deep fried monk fish stood out better than the other choice of soy-braised Kinki.  Don't get me wrong, the Kinki was very well executed accompanied by radish and young spinach.  Very light yet tasty.  But the monk fish was an exciting battle of crisp batter and a slightly crunchy fish.  Each buttery mouthful quite addictive, especially with the highlights of lime squishes over the top.  

The sushi course was a presentation of 9 pieces, including ark shell, mackeral, snapper, wild amberjack (buri),  shrimp, salmon roe, tuna belly and sea eel.  The rice was of high quality with the right amount of marinade, and well cooked to show separation of grains yet maintain a stickiness that held together without being overly tight.

Salmon roe
This is always enjoyable when the fresh roes pop in the mouth.  Held loosely together by a seaweed which added crispness, there is many a good thing happening on the palate here.  And you know you're working with the good stuff when the roes are naturally sweet, unlike the ones which have been sitting in brine for a while.

Seared Tuna belly
Slightly smoky balanced the fatty goodness.  Yes, it was good.

Sea Eel
Although filled with tiny bones, all edible if you just overcome the psychological barrier of swallowing fish bones.  This is one of those experiences that are worth it for the cottony sweetness this creature offers.  Enhanced by a sweet soy glace, it is quite something.

Baked egg
Only one of 2 places I know that make this in Hong Kong, you will have a hard time believing this spongy sweet cake is actually an omelet.  Prep time and effort is a little more and that's why this is so good.  This in itself is worth the trip.

Matcha Panna Cotta
Desserts were surprisingly fantastic.  This matcha panna cotta used a traditional matcha powder explaining the deep and dark green color.  Buried underneath is a creamy milk pudding that is rich yet light, or at least it gives you the delusion of so since the bitterness of the matcha is such a contrast to the sweet goodness of the milk.  Made ostentatious by a broken gold leaf covering a sweet black bean sitting atop.

Honey ice cream with cinnamon ice
This was yet another winner.  Creamy honey given a clever bite by a cinammon flavored crushed ice.  Enough said.  

Food wise, there is little complaint about this place despite the hefty price tag.  Service was decent depending on who you get.  Still, service aside, it is one of Hong Kong's finest sushi joints as at the date of this post and if you think about the money you save on a ticket to Japan, this more than pays for itself.  A resounding "yes" to a repeat.  Is it bonus time yet?

49 Hollywood Road
Tel: +852-28150455

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