Date of review: July 29, 2013 | Reviewed by:
Hung Hom was never exactly known as a destination for fine dining – that is, until last year, when Kazuo Okada opened three luxury restaurants under one roof at the Harbourfront Landmark. As the name suggests, the building is right on the water, and when booking a seat at the flagship Japanese restaurant, make sure to ask for a table by the window. If you prefer live action over harbour views, then a seat at the cooking island in the middle of the restaurant might be better, where you can watch the chefs prepare all the different elements of your kaiseki meal. The overall atmosphere of Kazuo Okada can be a bit cold and business-like, with neon strips of blue by the entrance and glaring red light emanating from the shelves.
Kazuo Okada is known for its kaiseki menus, which changes according to the seasons. When we visited, our chef’s kaiseki menu started with one of the restaurant’s signature dishes: flash-smoked salmon with nuta sauce, a tart mix of miso and vinegar. The presentation is impressive, as the two slices of salmon arrive swathed in sakura wood smoke. It is a bit difficult to eat, however, as you have to fish for the salmon with your chopsticks through a rather tight opening in the cup-shaped dish, making it a not-so-elegant experience. Our second dish, a horsehair crab with eggplant and grated radish sauce, was better, as it was delicate and a more logical starting point for the meal. The sashimi selection was a tad disappointing with a fairly bland fluke, unmemorable yellowtail, and a seared alfonsino topped with Hokkaido uni. While the fish was fresh, none of them really popped with flavour. Our cooked ayu fish was much more enjoyable: the grilled fish had a delectable flavour and could be eaten whole, and it also came with sliced abalone with its own liver sauce. We had been looking forward to the Kagoshima beef, which is grilled table side on a teppan. While the aromas were enticing, the steak itself was overly peppery and it obscured the natural flavours of the beef. The sides were excellent, with a warm peeled tomato that was extremely flavoursome. Our final savoury course was another signature: a truffle rice which again, smelled beautiful, but was rather under-seasoned for our taste. Dessert was a strong peach liquor sorbet, paired with a very sweet Japanese honeydew melon, which we thought to be slightly incongruent.
Kazuo Okada has a rather impressive sake selection, including limited selection bottles that are specially made for the restaurant. There is also a monthly-changing sake list, which includes detailed description, plus precise food pairing suggestions. If you must drink wine, there is an impressive wine cellar shared between Kazuo Okada, Messina and Yu Lei, which includes tens of thousands of fine wines from all over the world.
While the staff are knowledgeable and take care to explain all the dishes, the service could still be improved as we found some of the servers a bit overly keen, interrupting our conversation to inquire after our experience or introduce the dishes.
The chef’s kaiseki menu is priced at HK$1,880 per person while the seasonal kaiseki menu (which didn’t include the beef or truffle rice) was HK$1,280. Given the amount of food and quality of the ingredients, this is not a lot, but it would feel more worth it if the execution were more impressive.