At times, Hong Kong’s stifling urban density can seem unbearable – but it does have its moments. In pursuit of tranquillity, the city’s omakase restaurants have had to look skyward: many of them setting up shop, pied-à-terre style, amidst the clouds. Ours is a skyline convulsing under the weight of Japanese fine dining and Sushi Taki is the newest establishment to enter this fray.
Located on the 17th floor of an unassuming commercial building, Sushi Taki presents itself as a “back to basics” experience. Luxury – that abhorrent buzzword used to describe everything from cat food to hemorrhoid cream – is largely absent in the restaurant’s stark interior with Executive Chef Kaho Cheung choosing to focus instead on an authentic Japanese menu. Inevitably, that means same-day seafood imports, a display of traditional preparations, and dishes emphasising technique over theatricality. For fanatics of sushi dining, the restaurant’s granite bar table is an altar. Laden with pickled ginger and freshly grated wasabi, it is a promising portent of pleasures to come.
At 18 courses, the house’s premium omakase (“Matsu”) is a veritable feast. Upon arrival, diners are greeted by a flight of starters: cod roe tamago; crispy skinned sea bream; a classic “salad” of Kanayama miso & cucumber; the most delicate taro – steamed in its peel for easy consumption – unseasoned save for salt. It’s a simple prelude; designed to highlight the diverse range of fresh ingredients which are fundamental to this kind of cuisine.
Although sushi is the proverbial Taki speciality, sashimi plays an equally important role in alluring diners. Buoyed by Hong Kongers’ indefatigable demand for the latter delicacy – the city imported 26 percent of Japan’s restaurant-grade fish in 2016 – local venues provide a comprehensive range of traditional (if popular) cuts. At Sushi Taki, the tuna loin is noteworthy – delivered unfrozen from Nagasaki daily. Chef Cheung’s laborious standards prove preservational: the tuna retains a marbled texture and never loses its original freshness. Head to tail specialities also abound; with dishes combining different anatomical elements of a single fish a hot item. Filefish sashimi arrives wrapped around the eponymous animal’s liver; imparting a sweet and creamy flavour to the otherwise leaner flesh. The preparation is not “innovative” – at least, not in the European sense of the word – but it’s a novel one; fitting thoughtfully into the rubric of classic omakase flavours.
Sashimi courses are closed with a palette cleanser (i.e. an assortment of neverending ginger slices) in preparation of the main event – sushi. At Taki, a traditionalistic mentality toward sushi is essential: morsels are small; assembled with room temperature rice; and served at a contemplative pace. Still, if patience is your strong suit there is much to be gained. The Botan shrimp is a consummate pleasure: sea sweet and containing vestigial amounts of savoury fat in carapaces. The fat is used to prepare a fresh garnish – singular green jewels served atop each piece of loosely packed rice. Elsewhere, hot dishes are not to be sneered at either: with the sakura shrimp tempura juxtaposing the botan sushi. Assembled from dozens of the diminutive little creature, these freshly fried delicacies are served without frills, accompanied by seasonal vegetables and the classic garnish of grated radish.
In soft open mode, Sushi Taki is a pleasant if conventional purveyor of Japanese fine dining. Their liquor licence is still on the way – the restaurant plans to serve the prestigious Junmai Daijingo Ryusen – so it’s difficult to adjudge the exact scope of the venue. In a city with one of the largest concentrations of Japanese expatriates in the world, its arrival has been somewhat tepid, lost amongst the din of noise emanating from Hong Kong’s more established sushi chefs. Still, there’s plenty to like about this skyward refuge: an extremely attentive staff; non-Central location; and classic-to-a-fault fare. Another visit six months down the track perhaps.
17-19 Ashley Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Exit L5, Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station