Date of review: September 28, 2016 | Reviewed by: Esther Wong
A discreet set of sliding doors in a quiet corner of Wan Chai invites diners to a feast of some of the finest crab in town. Upon entering Kanizen, guests will first be greeted with the sight of two open-top tanks, filled with live Japanese taraba and horsehair crabs. Depending on the time of year, other seasonal crab specialities may also be swimming in the display. In the main dining area, guests may enjoy individual hotpots around the U-shaped cooking counter. Alternatively, comfortable booths surround the space, with even more booths available in the back room. A private dining room is available upstairs to cater to larger parties.
We were recommended to try the deluxe Four Crabs Set, served to a minimum of two diners, which featured some seasonal crabs—however, many of the courses can be found in the other set dinners available throughout the year. The Four Crabs Set comprises eight courses, and begins with a cold Hokkaido corn soup with sea urchin and taraba crab meat, which is a refreshing start. The matsuba crab sashimi with sea urchin is a showstopper that allows the freshness of the elements in the dish to shine. The simply prepared steamed matsuba crab meat and crab roe highlights the natural sweetness of the crustacean. The grilled taraba crab legs possess a hint of smokiness and is cooked just to the point of being done, which allows the meat to retain a soft texture. We found the batter in the matsuba crab tempura to be slightly stodgy and bland, masking the flavour of the crab. The cold horsehair crab, however, mixes the meat with its roe, providing a delicate taste of the ocean. The meal is ended simply with a dessert choice of yuzu sorbet, green tea or black sesame ice cream. While most of the menu remains unchanged throughout the year, make sure to ask about seasonal crab offerings.
Premium sakes are available here, most notably the Jyuyondai Series from Yamagata Prefecture with bottles ranging between HK$5,000 and HK$18,000 each. Quality French and Italian wines are also available by the bottle, and those looking for a more casual drink can dip into one of the Japanese beers on the menu.
From the moment you walk into the restaurant to the end of your meal, staff are attentive and friendly, making sure that all of your needs are attended to. Empty tea cups are quickly refilled and used dishes are whisked away between courses without intrusion.
Expect to spend over HK$1,000 per person on a set dinner menu, not including drinks—however, considering the high quality of ingredients and superb level of service, we find this to be great value for money for special occasions.