A new 19-course omakase menu that showcases chef Hiroki Nakanoue’s greatest creations.
If not for the inventive, boundary-breaking take on traditional Japanese omakase, then perhaps it’s the friendly, amicable nature of chef-owner Hiroki Nakanoue — and his now-iconic bubblegum-pink hair! — that gives Sushiyoshi, Tsim Sha Tsui’s Otto Hotel omakase mainstay, its beloved reputation. A fine-dining destination of exquisite Japanese fare not just so, but a jovial, infectious energy spurred on by chef Hiroki’s enthusiasm and innovative plates — no sign of the usual air of austerity in sight.
Chef Hiroki’s return to Sushiyoshi Hong Kong, home to the first overseas outpost of the reputed two-Michelin star restaurant in Osaka, is welcomed, first, with brand new look — still of sleek, minimalistic elegance, now staunchly emphasised via tactile details from the carved Japanese pine latticework to scenic canvases of nature as a symbolic nod towards the sushiya’s ode to fresh ingredients and boundless creativity.
More notably, however, it’s an impressive 19-course omakase menu framed in refreshed perspectives and novel interpretation brought together by inspired stints around Taiwan and Japan that’s worth the chatter. It’s a menu carefully designed to spotlight chef Hiroki’s considerable skill in seamlessly fusing traditional Japanese ingredients with modern European techniques. A menu in celebration of culinary imagination.
You’ll find the 19 course flits to-and-fro between various cultures; expect light grazes over time-honoured traditions, including a consistent dedication to Edomae-style sushi, with a touch of unconventionality. Unexpectedness and surprise. Beyond the overarching narrative, each delicate plate behold an interesting tale of its own — it can be a personal one, too. Take the opening starter, a gougère pastry that chef Hiroki first sampled, adored and transported over from France, stuffed with gruyère cheese and freshly homemade uni powder. Following in between, the bonito sashimi, served à la Peking duck (thanks to a craving whilst in quarantine) with kombu tsukudani, chives and a smear of Japanese mustard. Other times, the delicious serves are indicative of chef Hiroki’s fused techniques — the creamy uni scrambled egg served with Sturia caviar, or the oyster ‘Kaki’ sushi, sous-vided and brushed with the restaurant’s signature sweet soy sauce.
Taking a brief break from working the beautifully sanded, 200-year-old hinoki (Japanese cypress wood) countertop, we talk to chef Hiroki about his return to Sushiyoshi Hong Kong and the much-anticipated new menu:
Hi chef Hiroki, how’s it going? How was quarantine?
It was really good! During quarantine I kept thinking about how to surprise my Hong Kong guests. Also, I ate a lot of local food.
Ideas I came up with like the Bonito Sashimi paired with chive, braised kelp and mustard which are inspired by traditional Japanese cuisine and also traditional Chinese cuisine. In Japan, braised kelp is usually paired with white fish in Bo-sushi, but I think thought of using dashi – the Japanese-style broth also made by kelp and bonito, so the taste should be match. Also when in was in quarantine, I really wanted to eat Peking Duck. This became the inspiration for the dish everyone call the dish as Peking Duck now (Bonito Sashimi “Konbu Tsukudani”).
Speaking about the food I wanted to eat, one of the colleague knew that I really want to eat radish cake while I was in quarantine, so she made a radish cake for me. After I taste it, I think should be matched with dry mullet fish roe / bottarga, wasabi and seaweed, actually I think it is really good and fun!
How would you describe your culinary style?
Sushi is made with traditional Edomae-style sushi and Kansai area oshi-sushi, but tsumami (the use of seasonal ingredients) really depends. Before, I would always travel to Europe, so my style was more inspired by European cuisines, but since the coronavirus outbreak, I only can stay within Japan, Taiwan and now Hong Kong, so I will say for now, I am more inspired by Chinese cuisine. Maybe later on I will be inspired by other cuisine as well, I really do not know.
Can you share what inspired the new omakase menu?
From the daily life in Hong Kong to everything related to my day-to-day life. If you ask me if there is any story behind the menu, I can tell you that the story is about everyone I have met, every place I have been and everything that has happened in my life. I don’t have a special theme for my menu, only good tastes with hidden surprises for my guests.
What is your favourite dish to prepare on the new menu?
I was fascinated by the gougère the first time I tried it in Paris. The texture and the taste is so good. A few years later, I met the chef who made the gougère for me in Paris, he taught me how to make it, and this time [at Sushiyoshi] I make the gougère with sea urchin (uni).
The ingredient you enjoyed to use the most?
I’m used to using a lot of shrimp but I love the local lobster. Sushi restaurants seldom use lobster because it is too big. But for this new menu, I came up with a new idea of using lobster. For me, it is like I have found a new and fun ingredient to enjoy.
Where is your favourite restaurant when in Hong Kong? Favourite place to drink?
My favourite restaurant is Xin Rong Ji, I have never tried anything same in other restaurants. I also like to have a beer in cha chaan tengs at Yau Ma Tei.
Other news at Sushiyoshi?
I will be staying in Hong Kong until July.
Reservations for Sushiyoshi’s 19-course omakase menu (HK$3,480) can by made via +852 2657 0280. Sushiyoshi, 1/F, The Otto Hotel, 8 Cameron Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong