Date of review: August 17, 2017 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
Sukiyaki Mori resides in a modest ground floor space adjacent to the crossroads where Hollywood Road meets Elgin Street. The expanse of dark wood panels lining the entrance has a small wooden sign that can easily be missed by guests. Entering the sliding door reveals a brightly lit dining space, where tables are laid at the front leading up to the open kitchen bar that fits 10 guests.
The 40-seat restaurant is spacious, with a floor-to-ceiling decorative wood panels hand-painted with flowers. We recommend sitting at the open kitchen area, where chefs can interact and prepare the meal for you directly.
The one crucial factor in Sukiyaki Mori’s success is that the restaurant excels in only one area of the Japanese repertoire – its beef hot pots. The establishment is taking the widely popular beef shabu-shabu and sukiyaki to Central. The establishment offers three dinner set menus, from the omakase menu where the chef decides the menu to two sets, one each for its hot pot specialties as well as a number of a la carte dishes to choose from.
A la carte options cover different cuts of Japanese wagyu beef, but the hot pot set menus offer a better tasting range of the beef offered at the restaurant. The set menu begins with an appetiser of simmered seasonal vegetables with miso sauce, the vegetables, served cold, are dressed with a sweet and tangy miso dressing, a great beginning to the meal ahead. The steamed egg, also known as the chawanmushi, is creamy and smooth, each sip of the savoury custard sliding through the palate with punches of umami from fresh shrimps.
Three cuts of beef are served for the hotpot set menu at Sukiyaki Mori, each masterfully cut into thin slices and snuggly fanned out on a platter by the stove. The shabushabu takes dashi stock simmered in a custom-made shallow copper vessel, as the stock simmers it releases richer aroma. The sirloin is meaty but tender. Prepared by the chefs themselves, each beef slice is dipped and swivelled into the simmering broth for seconds, turning the meat to a pale pink hue before serving. We were particularly fond of dabs of ponzu sauce, or soy sauce with yuzu juice, to cut the richness from the meat. The rich sesame sauce is also served alongside.
Unlike the shabu-shabu where meat is quickly blanched, the sukiyaki is a completely different form of hot pot. A cast iron pot is heated at the table, followed by a quick swipe of beef suet, which melts into hot grease to release a buttery aroma before a sprinkle of sugar is added.
The pan’s heat caramelises the sugar slightly before the meat is added, followed by a special sweet soy sauce made especially for sukiyaki. Chef Mori turned the beef slices to cook, and just in time coating each piece with the sauce. A quick dip into beaten raw egg adds texture and creaminess to the meat. We feel that sukiyaki is more versatile for different meat cut on offer, from the meaty shoulder to belly whose fat
Vegetables are served in both hot pot sets, and shabu-shabu is best for chrysanthemum leaves, while tofu is better with the sweeter sukiyaki. Another highlight of the meal was a porridge made by deglazing the sukiyaki pan with hot rice and more sweet sauce. Thickened with egg, the porridge is a welcoming finish to round up the rich, satisfying meal.
The wine list of Sukiyaki Mori is a modest one, with just a handful of sakes that are good pairing with the establishment’s signature hotpots. Wine by the glass options are limited but labels are rather reasonably priced and is best for sharing among small parties.
Attention to detail lies in the service offered at Sukiyaki Mori. The service team is friendly to greet guests at the door, as menu was offered and introduced shortly after tea was served. The staff are knowledgeable in the menu and its offerings, together with the concept of the restaurant as well as the chef’s background. Chefs interacted well with guests, and are masters at controlling the pace of meal preparation for them throughout the service.
A dinner for two at Sukiyaki Mori amounts to HK$1,500. The establishment’s fine execution on food offers a proper Japanese hot pot experience.