Date of review: December 28, 2011 | Reviewed by:
This is the Japanese tonkatsu giant's first foray into Hong Kong and the restaurant is nestled in the basement of Henry House in Causeway Bay, home to quite a few other renowned Japanese restaurants. Saboten doesn't take bookings so it’s best either to come outside of peak hours or settle yourself comfortably into a queue which spirals up the narrow staircase leading to the entrance. The dining area is fairly loud due to the open plan layout and bright ceiling lights which perfectly illuminate the plate area but perhaps encourage diners to converse a tad too vigourously.
Signatures include the Japanese premium pork sets and the trio of original rolled pork tenderloin. Deep-fried Hiroshima oysters and tiger prawn are regular specialities throughout the autumn and winter months as well, while curries and hotpots make up the rest of the menu. Little ones will enjoy the separate children’s menu featuring smaller portions and more finger-friendly foods. The premium pork loin is recommended by the staff over the tenderloin as being the fattiest, making for the most traditional tonkatsu pork fillet. Hard to think of what the tenderloin must be like because the loin we received was definitely on the dry side and overly firm. Things get much better with the rolled pork tenderloin trio featuring asparagus and bacon, cheese, and shiso and ume. These are favourites and rightfully so: moist and juicy, each bite is tender and soft and thoroughly enjoyable. The Hiroshima oysters are succulent and perfectly cooked, the light batter being key here. Endless cabbage and white or brown rice refills allow you to lengthen your meal to suit the depth of your hunger, while at the same time appearing to balance the intrinsically oily nature of any meal here. Surprisingly, the most expensive item on the menu, the premium pork loin, is the weakest part of our meal.
The house sake is a solid choice and quite smooth and dry, standing up well to the predominantly deep fried menu, though a beer is a more traditional tipple to go with tonkatsu. However, the alcohol list is definitely limited, with only two types of sake, three shochus and two whiskies to choose from, as well as four beers.
The staff here are attentive although it can be difficult to get their attention when the dining room is busy, as it so often is during peak hours.
A three-course meal with drinks for two should end up costing under HK$600, which is about right considering the location and quality of food.