NOBU: the city's trendiest and most grandiose sushi temple
Few Japanese restaurants rival Nobu arguably the most recognisable name in the sushi-and-sashimi business. The soft-spoken Nobu Matsuhisa began the empire in the 1990s, also taken to great heights with celebrity partner Robert De Niro. By the time the 17th outpost opened at the InterContinental Hong Kong in 2006, the public was already infatuated with the restaurant thanks to its surrounding monumental hype. The food is coloured with the chef's experiences across north and south America. At the chef's restaurant in Peru in the 1970s, he incorporated the surrounding Latin flavours and produce into the cooking, while in Los Angeles, during a time when Americans were intimidated by eating raw fish, the chef partially seared his sushi.Nobu Hong Kong also serves raw fish fused with jalapenos, salsas or olive oil and citrus dressing. More traditional Japanese dishes include the restaurant's blockbuster dish: the miso cod, where the fish is grilled and glazed with the sweetened fermented bean paste, with a young pink-tipped ginger stem poised for presentation. High quality seafood, jet-fresh from Toyko's Tsukiji fish market, also explain the loyal following. Great Victoria Habour views and designer surroundings means the restaurant continues to be a favourite for special occasion meals. Dinner for two will set you back around HK$2,000 (minus drinks). 2/F, Intercontinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Tel: +852 2313 2323.
Exceptional hot and cold dishes at Inagiku
The Four Season takes the lead in housing some of the city's most culinary-acclaimed restaurants, yet the hotel's sprawling Japanese restaurant, Inagiku, remains overlooked and understated despite serving habitually fresh seafood based on great ingredients in the hands of chefs obsessed with detail and precision. Premium ingredients spread to the high-grade rice and seasonings (especially the various salts) from Japan that reflect the kitchen's diligence in offering the best of what the country has to offer. Do try the deluxe sashimi platter, a medley of eight types of sashimi, or go a la carte and sample more luxe cuts especially the fatty toro (tuna). Inagiku's also known for teppanyaki prepared theatrically at the centre of the dining room and makes for a great detour of the raw selection. Try the seared cubes of Australian Waygu beef rib eye. All are savoured in serene surroundings of sweeping harbour views and gleaming screens and artwork depicting the Edo period and other cultural ancient-Japan visuals. Expect to pay up to HK$2,000 for an elaborate dinner for two minus wine. Level 4, Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance Street, Central. Tel: +852 2805-0600.
If you've been raised in California-style sushi, rolls and cones: Tokio Joe
This sushi bar smack in the centre of Lan Kwai Fong has earned a loyal following for years as regulars come back for Japanese fare you can count on including preparations that veer away from the traditional. There is the wide selection of California-style hand rolls and cones (various renditions of avocado and crab roe and raw seafood tucked into these rice-based goodies) including the rainbow roll, a dish ubiquitous in sushi joints in the US, where mock crabmeat, egg, avocado and mild Japanese mayonnaise is rolled prettily with raw salmon. Spice-laden raw seafood are also worth trying such as the signature starter of spicy tuna tartar enveloped in romaine lettuce. A tasty and refreshing bite, this dish also features deep-fried spring roll wrapper pieces adding volume, crunch and texture. Alongside the list of familiar sashimi items are a battery of sushi a la carte, from familiar items such as various tuna cuts (from classic red to toro) to the chewy ark shell, creamy uni or marbled Kobe beef. Those who can't go raw all the way can tell the waiter to have your sushi cooked or delve into the cooked sushi combo platter that features shrimp tempura, grilled salmon, eel and chicken to name a few. Dinner can averages at around HK$1,300 per person, without drinks. 16 Lan Kwai Fong, Central. Tel: +852 2525-1889.
Matsubishi for an utterly classic and uncomplicated selection
The Japanese food at Matsubishi in the Renaissance Harbour View hotel in Wan Chai thrives on old-school sushi tradition rather than innovations or experimentations. Sometimes all you need is a tight and focused menu, where the finest ingredients and expert sushi chefs are what count the most. Do try the assorted raw fish selection; the quality of the sashimi is commendable. Take a break from the uncooked platters from the teppanyaki selection - watch your designated chef fire up specialties like goose liver, or the Japanese Mitsuwa beef done in two ways, from cubed and seared sirloins to thin strips of grade-A beef wrapped around garlic chips and leeks. Dinner for two with sashimi to start plus wine will set you back about HK$2,000. 3/F, Renaissance Harbour View Hotel, Convention Plaza, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. Tel: +852 2824 1298.
Kaetsu is ideal for reliable and hyper-seasonal delicacies
At the Grand Hyatt is this minimalist sushi-haven crafted in wood, stone and clay. Though the sashimi served is fresh and good quality, the real winner here is the sushi assortments. Instead of serving commonly-seen fish, the chef demonstrates his flair with the cuisine by supplying a host of seasonal choices, including hiramasa yellowtail, aji horse mackerel, and isaki. The names may be unfamiliar, yet the pleasure of freshness is by no means alien. The signature dish - Saga beef - allows diners a choice of several varieties. A3 Saga beef is recommended as aggressively marbled A5 beef might be too fatty for some people (take note: 100 grams sounds small but the richness of the such meat means it's just right for two people to share). Wash it down with premium sake: Kaetsu's drinks list is extensive, cluttered with well-known upmarket bottles such as Junmai Daiginjo, Jumai Ginjo, and 40 others. Then close the meal with "digestion-helping tea," which lives up to name and rounds off a satisfying and authentic Japanese feast. Dinner for two, excluding drinks, costs HK$2,200. M/F, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. Tel: +852 2584 7722.