The Mercer Hotel,
29 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan,
Hong Kong, China
Tel: (852) 2643 6800
Cuisine: Japanese – Sushi
Nearest tube: Sheung Wan
Website: Sushi Shikon
Apologies for the lack of posts as of late. Unfortunately my MacBook Pro (circa 2011) has decided to completely give up the ghost and refuses to boot up. It was time to get a new laptop anyhow and with a new MacBook Pro in hand, I am all set to start writing again. The last month has been rather busy for me despite having close to 3 weeks off work due to sorting out various bits and bobs for our upcoming wedding.
Enough about my rambling. We are going to head back to writing about my meals in Hong Kong. One of the restaurants I absolutely wanted to visit this time around was Sushi Shikon, the only 3* Sushi restaurant in Hong Kong and only one of two restaurants outside Japan with 3*s. Sushi Shikon is located in the boutique hotel, the Mercer, and is the outpost of Sushi Yoshitake (also with 3*s). Interestingly, the restaurant first opened as Sushi Yoshitake but because of clients making for one restaurant and then showing up at the other, the owners soon decided to change the name to avoid any confusion. No-shows are a complete pain for restaurants, but when your restaurant only seats . people it is even more financially damaging.
Speaking of the size of the restaurant, snagging a seat was not much of a problem for me but I did book 6 months in advance. Perhaps one of the deterring factors is the price charged. At the time of dining, the price of the omakase menu was HKD$3,500 (roughly £315). That buys you 6 appetisers, 10 pieces of sushi and a dessert. That is a lot of money but a lot of it can be attributed to the importation cost. To recreate the authentic experience like in Tokyo, chef Yoshitake has decided that all ingredients would be flown in daily from Tokyo. I am not only talking about the fish (which naturally comes from Tsukiji market) but the also the charcoal and water. Yes, you read that right. Even the water is flown in from Japan. Despite the high menu prices for food, the wine and sake list (a short, sweet list) was surprisingly affordable by Hong Kong standards.
As our taxi pulled up to the Hotel entrance, we were greeted by the hotel manager who was expecting us for our dinner. We were 5 minutes late for our 8pm booking but there was another couple who were running a lot later. We were shown to the dining room – a small 8 seater counter made from a Japanese Hinoki wood. After offering us a drink and confirming that we had no allergies or dislikes, the meal swiftly began.
The meal began with a seasonal appetiser of Koubako crab – the crab meat was served both as the leg meat which had been picked as well as the shell containing the brown meat. On top was a little dashi jelly with plenty of umami and a little acidity to lift up the flavours of the crab meat. This was a fantastic little opener to our meal.
This was followed by sashimi of Kinmedai (Golden Alfonsino) with the skin having had the gentlest lick of charcoal grill. The contrast between the soft (but firm), sweet flesh of the fish and the crispy, smoky skin was a beautiful thing. I certainly enjoyed this a lot more than the version served at Tenku Ryugin.
I was less impressed with the Scallop sashimi, served with a seaweed powder. The scallop was undoubtedly from a fine specimen and it tasted like one but I could not help but wonder what purpose the seaweed powder which was added served. If anything it just masked the beautiful flavour of the scallop
The next course was an absolute cracker. The restaurant’s signature steamed abalone served with its liver sauce. If you are used to eating chewy abalone, then this version here will completely change your mind about what abalone should taste like. Chef tells me the abalones here are steamed for at least 7 hours to achieve an absolute melt in your mouth texture. What made the dish however was the green abalone liver sauce. Think of it as a cross between black pudding and foie gras puree and you are half way there. After we had finished enjoying the abalone slices with the liver sauce, chef offered us a small ball of rice (onigiri) to mop up the rest of the sauce. Absolutely brilliant. One of the best abalone dishes I have eaten in my life.
A final sashimi course was a hay smoked bonito. Absolutely love the meatiness and oiliness of the fish which was complemented by the smokey note from the hay smoking. Yet again, the technique here was superb as the fish itself remained perfectly raw despite the hot smoking used to impart flavour to it.
The arrival of the chawan mushi signifies the transition between the appetisers to the important business of the sushi. The egg custard was perfectly smooth and was topped with a little picked snow crab meat to add interest to the dish. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded if this dish was omitted.
Now for the main bit of business and the reason why we were here. The sushi of course! I was seriously impressed by the knife skills of our chef. Who wouldn’t when you can slice a thin piece of squid in half. Without looking. It would only be appropriate for me to talk about the rice. After all, sushi literally translates to vinegared rice. The rice here is prepared with two different types of vinegar and served at a temperature slightly warmer than what I have encountered previously. In addition, what I also noticed was that when forming the sushi, our chef deliberately packed the rice very loosely. This resulted in sushi which was very light and would literally fall apart once it hits your mouth creating a literal ‘melt in your mouth’ experience. The seasoning with vinegar was moderate which I was fine with.
Of the various sushis we were served, I was most impressed with the akagai (arc shell) which was given the traditional slap to induce reflex curling. This gives the clam a crunchy texture. We naturally requested a few additional pieces after chef was done preparing us our allocated 10 which he was more than happy to oblige us with.
The arrival of the tamago signifies the end of the sequence of sushis. It was interesting to note that the version here was a lot more savoury than what I have encountered previously. The texture was also more towards a firm egg custard. Interesting but not my favourite version of tamago. The last savoury course was a miso soup with some baby clams which was fine. Our meal then concluded with some kyoho grapes – served whole and with a little granita.
Sushi Shikon is without doubt a world class sushi-ya. This was a truly outstanding meal with plenty of highs and plenty of memorable dishes. The sushi itself was truly phenomenal and I particularly enjoyed the fact the rice was packed so lightly which was a complete revelation to me. All this of course comes a hefty price. At £315 a head (without service or wine) this is a serious piece of change which would put most Parisian restaurants to shame. Of course this is reflected in the relative small number of diners and the large number of staff employed to look after the customers. Whether this is value for money, ultimately only you can decide. But if you are in Hong Kong and looking for a little piece of sushi heaven, then you can’t go wrong with Sushi Shikon.