Monday, August 1, 2016

Wagyu Takumi (Hong Kong)

June 2016

Shop 1, Ground Floor, The Oakhill, 16 Wood Road, Wanchai Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2574 1299

Update: In the 2017 Michelin Guide, Wagyu Takumi lost one of its two Michelin stars.

Of the top restaurants in Hong Kong, perhaps one of the less-known is Wagyu Takumi. Having two Michelin stars, it certainly doesn't seem to have as much publicity as its peers. But perhaps that is deliberate. It is a tiny restaurant with less than 20 seats, hence doesn't need mass marketing to fill up the restaurant every night. You can find it in a backstreet in the part of Wanchai bordering Causeway Bay, with a classy yet nondescript entrance. Inside is a small dining room with about a dozen seats around an open teppanyaki kitchen. The cozy space is brightly lit and encourages interaction between the guests and the chefs who operate just across them over the counter. With only one tasting menu and no choices to make other than the wine, we could sit back and relax and let the kitchen and wait staff look after us for the evening.

The cuisine here is French-Japanese, i.e. French cooking techniques with the use of some Japanese ingredients and Japanese kitchen equipment. Chek Konishi trained in Japan and France and hence could bring out the best of both culinary traditions. Throughout the dinner, we were kept quenched by a glass of Blanc de Blanc champagne at the start, then a bottle of Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru.

The meal started with the Onion roll (onion cream in thin crust) with caviar, deep fried scallop, wagyu beef tartare on toast. The onion roll was the most memorable of the three.

The "Keguni" (Japanese hairy crab with sweet corn ice cream) was a cold dish which was superb.

The "Bonito" (Marinated and salted beetroot ravioli) was also very good. The raw fish was very fresh and the beetroot was an interesting and successful complement.

The "Kuruma ebi" (Japanese prawn with dashi juniper berry) was a refreshing consomm√© with restrained umami flavours (the dashi was only a light touch hence maintaining the balance of the flavours).

The house speciality, the "Barley risotto" (abalone and shimanto seaweed with lotus root) was worth the trip. This was amazing. The risotto was cooked in a rich lobster stock, and was topped off by a juicy grilled abalone. We would go there just to eat this again.

The "Kamasu" (pan-fried Japanese barracuda eggplant caviar tomato sauce) was a perfectly cooked fish nicely balanced by the tartness of the tomato.

The "Japanese Wagyu" (charcoal grilled tenderloin with seasonal vegetables) had better not be disappointing. After all this was what the restaurant was named after. Fortunately, the Kagoshima beef fillet did not let us down. It was as good a piece of Japanese beef as we have eaten. And unlike most restaurants which serve such meat, the portions here were extremely generous, to the point where we found it difficult to finish all the beef on the plate. The accompanying deglaze was unnecessary given the flavourful Wagyu.

After such a heavy main course, we were relieved that the dessert, the "Alsatian apple tart" (Kirsch ice cream) was so light. It was very simple yet elegant end to an excellent meal.

We had a very enjoyable dinner at Wagyu Takumi. The premises looked its age and service was ernest but a bit unpolished, but in all the experience was positive and the food was very good with a few standout dishes.

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