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September 4, 2008

Iron Chef

Grills are heating up and pans are sizzling for a competition that only the legendary Morimoto-san is fit to judge. In the past few months, an Iron Chef-style rivalry has ensued in Hong Kong as an onslaught of gourmet Japanese hotspots have come to the forefront of the food scene, bringing us a taste of the country’s tantalizing, savoury and super fresh offerings, from sushi and teppanyaki to robatayaki and shabu shabu. Joining the highly revered master chefs at Nobu and Zuma are a fleet of young talents who are quickly making their way up the culinary ranks. . .

Contestant 1: ROKA (Level LG1, Shop 002, Pacific Place, Admiralty, 3960 5988)
In Japanese, RO means a hearth or gathering place, KA means a burning fire. ROKA means Hong Kong’s newest internationally renowned Japanese concept restaurant, which is taking the city by storm. First launched in London in 2004, ROKA extends the Japanese dining experience beyond sushi and tempura to the dynamic, sizzling Japanese Robata grill. The 6,000 square foot venue presents the highest quality market-fresh sashimi and maki rolls along with charcoal-grilled meats, seafood and seasonal vegetables complemented by signature sauces and served from the open grill. Don’t miss the lamb cutlets with hot pepper spices and black cod skewers with gingered saikyo miso. Desserts like the strawberry, jasmine sundae with yuzu granite and cocktails like the Cosumo, a blood orange and apple cosmopolitan, mean ROKA is one gathering place you’ll be returning to again and again.

Contestant 2: Magushi (72 Peel St., SoHo, 2868 1428)
If you can make it up to the top of the steep incline of Peel St. (note: if wearing 4 inch heels or above, we strongly recommend getting dropped off at Caine Rd. and walking down the steps to avoid major embarrassment), you will be rewarded with SoHo’s latest sleek yet intimate new sake bar and dining spot, Magushi. This tiny sliver of a restaurant offers counter seating as well as a few tables where you can watch the sizzling robatayaki being prepared. Top picks for these grilled and skewered delights are the miso-glazed cod, oysters, foie gras and lamb chops as well as fresh veggies like asparagus and sweet potatoes. A fully stocked sake bar and expert advice from the restaurant’s manager ensure you’ll be sipping away on your preferred blend of the good stuff in no time. And with no main courses in sight, this is the perfect place to begin a big night out. . .goodbye heavy food coma, hello savoury bites and sake-fueled fun!

Contestant 3: Shabu Shabu (G/F, Dennies House, 20 Luard Rd., Wan Chai, 2893 8806)
Recently, there seems to be no shortage of reasons to adore Wanchai. Just when you thought you might fancy a change and it was time to check back to see how dear old Central is fairing, there is another enticing gastronomic delight that has you heading east again. Shabu Shabu, as its name suggests, serves up delectable, hearty servings of this Japanese specialty. Cook up a feast with thin slices of Japanese beef, shrimp dumplings, abalone, lobster, fresh noodles and an array of vegetables with your choice of aromatic soup base. You can also enjoy other favourites including beef rice in a stone pot, baked seafood udon with cream sauce and goose liver teppanyaki. The light wood traditional decor makes for an intimate, authentic setting, and in no time you’ll feel like you’ve been whisked away to a backstreet gem in Ginza.

Contestant 4: Shiro (G/F, Level 1, adjacent to Lane Crawford, Pacific Place, Admiralty, 2155 8066)
If the excitement of shopping the fabulous new Autumn/Winter collections is taking your blood sugar levels on a rollercoaster ride, then make a stop at the perfect new spot for a mid-spree pick-me-up. Shiro, the uber chic new David Yeo creation is offering a sassy new take on Japanese “Kaiten sushi” in ultra sleek surroundings. Come and enjoy the place “where fashion meets sushi” and each exquisitely designed creation from the menu looks just as alluring as the immaculate styles from the Autumn/Winter collections! Only the highest quality fish is used, jet fresh and delivered daily from Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji market. Mouth watering signature dishes include araba crab tempura with miso paste and slow cooked Kobe beef on braised Japanese turnip with sweet miso sauce, washed down with a specialty cocktail created by the in-house mixologists or one of their extensive sake choices. With food this delicious and healthy, you’ll still be able to fit into your newly purchased autumn must-haves and your tummy will be singing. . . miso happy!

Who should become the next Iron Chef? You be the judge, it’s time to make reservations and find out!



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