Sake Beya Masu
Date of review: July 7, 2016 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
Tucked away in quiet Sun Street behind the Star Street precinct, Sake Beya Masu’s discreet location is part of its charm. Entering the narrow entrance, guests are greeted by a floor-to-ceiling shelf of Japanese sakes and a bar-like waiting area at the front. The second door opens to reveal an intimate dining space, square with only two tables and a few high chairs along the bar area, where an impressive display of sakes are placed. The dimly-lit room, complete with dark wood furnishing, enhances the concept of a private bar.
For a place with only three tables, Sake Beya Masu’s menu is surprisingly packed with choices, some more seasonal than others. Sake lovers should consider the pairing dinner of nine courses (each with respective pairing) for HK$1,500, and same of six courses for HK$1,000. The a la carte menu is impressive too, presenting everything from sashimi to grilled items and carbs, as well as a few dishes from a seasonal special menu.
We began out meal with cutlass fish sashimi, slightly torched on the skin side. The firm flesh of the fish is best served on its own. Conger pike tempura rolls are done well, where shiso leaves are snuggly filled within a thinly battered conger pike meat. The fish may be light on its own, but the herbaceous filling gives it a lift. Fried fish roe with Japanese corn took the form of a sandwich, where two layers of shucked corn kernels sandwiched a thin layer of fish roe and deep-fried till golden and crisp. The sweetness of corn works particularly well with the fresh brininess from the roe.
Richer mains such as fried ox tongue with fish roe is a rather unlikely combination; the ox tongue slices are succulently medium rare. Peony shrimp with konowata is a unique treat. A single peony shrimp spread butterflied and filled with konowata, also known as sea cucumber innards and a prized Japanese delicacy. Its translucent jelly-like texture may be off-putting to some, but the contrast between opaque grilled shrimp and jellied innard filling is packed with umami in every bite.
Green tea soba is served in an enlarged bowl the shape of a cone, narrow at the base and wide and rimless at the top. The dashi, or kombu and bonito broth, is rich and complex, and best paired with the delicate green tea soba. We ended our meal with a house made blueberry cheesecake, a Western sweet treat done well. Creamy with just the right tart edge, the purple-hued cheese topping is sweet and fruity throughout.
Sake-lovers, whether they are novices or aficionados, should be impressed with the abundance of sake offerings from the wine list here, especially with one full page of by-the-glass varieties, particularly the limited-season production ones. We sampled the Aumont Yume Jyunmaidaiginjyo, whose depth slowly evolved on the palate from rice to fruity and rich. The Asabiraki Reisho Jyunmaiginjyo, a contrast from the previous one, is dry and light, with a crispness that cuts through the richness of conger eel rolls and corn tempura.
With only two tables and seats in front of the bar, one member of staff is sufficient to offer quality, attentive service from introducing menu selections to refilling glasses and presenting ordered dishes. The restaurant’s owner helped with further description on dishes and background of featured sakes as well. Ask for the specials menu with seasonal dishes as well as sake pairing information when needed.
If you don’t go for the sake pairing menus, a multi-dish dinner for two including a glass of sake amounts to just under HK$1,100. Sake Beya Masu’s food offerings may be simple, but with an impeccable sake selection and good service, this exclusive Japanese eatery is a sure-bet for anyone interested in sake.