Date of review: November 25, 2016 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
Taking after art-centric Bibo and sea-themed The Ocean, Brazilian-Japanese restaurant Djapa opened its doors a little over a month ago. The two-storey restaurant at Lee Tung Avenue is a colourful hub of radical artwork, displayed all over the restaurant. Guests are welcomed at the well-stocked bar, with lounge seats and Japanese-style stools scattered across the ground floor lounge.
The first floor dining room brings a casual vibe with a full view of an open kitchen on one side, and a street view of Lee Tung Avenue on the other. The interior décor lends an industrial, urban vibe with concrete walls, embellished with colourful graffiti-style art paintings, as well as artworks from masters such as Takashi Murakami, Yayoi Kusama, and Tomaz Viana, among many.
Taking pride in being the first restaurant serving a fusion of Brazilian and Japanese cuisine in Hong Kong, Djapa’s menu is a single-page collection with modest selections, heavier on the exotic Brazilian side with a seemingly unfitting addition of signature robata meat skewers in the mix, carefully created and crafted by executive chef Angel Romero. We started with a ceviche of turbot yuzu, where raw turbot is cubed and marinated in zesty lime juice.
The addition of grapes and nagaimo yam brings refreshing crunchy textures to the dish. Suntanned crabs are tiny Japanese freshwater crabs, deep fried and served with farofa, a Brazillian side dish made with cassava flour and pork belly, toasted and served in crumb-form, resembling sand on the coast. The crabs are good on their own, but better with the mango mayonnaise. The bobo, or squash stew with shrimps, are made with chopped pineapple and mangoes, enhancing the sweetness of the stew, great accompanied with coconut rice, served in the shell of a coconut.
A dish of Brazillian corn includes both local corn and baby corn, which remained tender after a quick toss in the pan with spicy house-made butter sauce.
Meats from the robata are of jolly good standard. The Kobe A5 chuckroll and Kagoshima A4 ribeye are both juicy and tender on skewers. We suggest enjoying them as they are, although exotic fruit-based chilli dips on the side are just as great. Desserts were disappointing, as the coco tapioca failed with tapioca pearls that were not cooked through and a puree of peach that was too tart. The basil honey drizzle was an interesting touch, however.
The selection of Japanese whiskies at Djapa is impressive, particularly when some of the rare labels and aged bottles are not often seen in the market. Cocktail varieties are exotic and refreshing, as they pair with both robata and Brazilian dishes very well. The Curious Brew mixes citrus infused Tanqueray gin with orange bitters and Ceylon tea, with the slightest touch of bitterness enhanced by fresh citrus. The Agua Benta pairs exotic cachaça with passionfruit, served with a large chunk of ice, allowing the drink to stays cold throughout the meal. The addition of jalapeno adds the slightest tinge of heat in every sip.
Service is quick and attentive at Djapa, as the team is knowledgeable on its menu offerings as well as cocktail pairing for guests’ orders. They are keen on recommending favourites and best-selling dishes complete with sound suggestions on portion control.
A dinner for two including one cocktail each amounts to a little less than HK$900. Djapa is a great venue for light bites and drinks, especially for art aficionados with a passion for colourful street art.