Date of review: July 21, 2016 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
Located at the end of Haven Street and on the ground floor of a new residential building, Kyoku has been largely under the radar until recently, four months after it opened its doors. The establishment’s wide entrance invites guests into the main dining space, which is divided into sushi bar on one side and teppanyaki station on the other, separated by a bar table for guests to gather for a drink before or after dinner. The spacious restaurant is well-lit, especially for the two private dining rooms. Between wooden flooring, wall tile and their reflections, the textures can be a little dizzying as they vary across the room.
Guests at Kyoku are offered the prix fixe sets to start, and the selections depend on the variety of dishes offered as well as how hungry the guests are, with an increasing price tag to match. The a la carte menu is a concise two-page selection, one for sashimi and sushi and the other of teppanyaki. Sushi selections cover the basics, with a few seasonal items that may run out depending on its optimum availability. The scallop, a pale flat disc of creaminess, melts with the mild, room temperature sushi rice, its glutinous texture contrasted with the soft shellfish. The yellow jack, gets its umami lift with a homemade topping of bonito flakes and scallions is firm and rich. Sea-urchin is the bafun variety harvested from Hokkaido. The golden briny petals stack atop the textured rice. The egg, made in house with multiple folds of thin pan-fried omelette is uniform in every layer with a sweet finish.
Guests ordering teppanyaki should start with seafood. The meaty flesh of Hokkaido sea snail is cut into thick ribbons, curled up in the searing process. The sea snail is fresh but rather unevenly cooked as some are just right and some turned tough from overcooking.
Guests can choose between Japanese wagyu or beef from the United States. The well-marbled A4 wagyu sliced beef is a good order. Thin slices of perfectly seared beef rolled up with filling of chopped scallions and crispy garlic slices, which offer crunch although some turned brown and tasted burnt throughout. The meltingly tender beef, with its juices enriching each bite, is a must for teppanyaki-lovers.
The wine list is an interesting read at Kyoku, starting with a monthly changing list on promotion, followed by a detailed account of sakes and shochus, including its private label as well as a selection of prized labels, available in 300ml carafes or whole bottles. We ordered the Yasakatsuru Nishiku Kurabu Junmai Daiginjo, one whose fragrant rice aroma with a and dry taste cuts through the richness of teppanyaki dishes well, with a sweet lingering finish.
Service at Kyoku is where there is a difference in quality between chefs and the floor staff. As guests are seated at the bar, chefs are keen to share candid details on dishes and the preparation, as well as to offer portioning control and menu recommendations. The floor staff, however, have yet to develop the same familiarity to the menu or the wine list, and at times required the managerial staff’s reminding to answer to guests and offer service.
An a la carte dinner of sushi with teppanyaki items for two amounts to a little over HK$2,100. Kyoku’s menu and its offerings may not hold the same level of surprise but their execution fits the number on the price tag.