Date of review: April 14, 2016 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
Sushi Gin is perched on the 27th floor of a commercial building which houses at least one other sushi restaurant, Kishoku – coincidentally the previous employer of head chef To. The long wood-lined corridor splits the restaurant into two sides: one is the elongated sushi bar with a city view, and the other dining area equipped with private rooms with the view of the Happy Valley racecourse. The establishment is well lit, although seating in both areas are quite packed with little elbow room. A rock-lined wall, together with bonsai set across from the sushi bar, offers a zen-like serenity to the otherwise busy restaurant. Tables at the other side of the restaurant seem small, and rather stuffy compared to the open sushi bar.
Sushi Gin, as the name and set up suggests, is a sushi restaurant that also serves a la carte offerings. Guests are offered an omakase option where the chefs decide the daily specials. Should guests order a la carte, it is important to note that the cooked items are rather generic, with only a few unique items to choose from.
A starter of matsuba crab with egg yolk vinegar is presented in a small crystal bowl, containing a mound of crabmeat, dressed in tangy vinegar and egg yolk, not unlike a mayonnaise but much lighter and more refreshing. The mixed vegetables with onsen egg also makes a light starter, where crisp salad greens are tossed in a soy-based vinaigrette with an onsen egg whose yolk oozes and dresses the mixed greens.
Options for hot dishes are mostly seafood, although a grilled wagyu steak is a popular choice at Sushi Gin. We ordered the slow-braised abalone tempura, where the fresh shellfish is braised until tender before coated in a light batter and deep-fried until golden and crisp.
Grilled white miso marinated black cod is good as well. The large slab of fish is umami-rich thanks to the miso marinade with a recurring sweetness under a caramelised crust.
One cannot visit a sushi restaurant without having sushi. The deluxe assorted sushi platter features nine pieces of sushi of the chef’s choice. While the rice is neatly handled with just the right touch, its presentation lacks finesse, and the quality is surprisingly low compared to the selections offered at lunch, which is comparatively a better deal. The red snapper (kinmedai) and ark shell (akagai) are slightly fishy to the taste, and the maki rolls were wet with a chewy nori. The egg omelette (tamago), however, was excellent with just the right touch of ground fish and prawns to give the sweet omelette a savoury touch.
A short two-page sake list offers a modest selection of Japanese rice wines. The list provides little information on the labels’ profiles, relying on the guests’ knowledge to choose the right one to pair with dishes ordered. 300ml carafe-sized options are in short supply, just two from the entire menu. We selected the Masumi Sanka Junmai Daiginjyo from Nagano for our meal. It’s a safe bet for a casual dinner with a refreshing lightness to start, followed by a faint aniseed flavour fitting for salads, as the profile progresses into flavours of white peach and a light finish ideal to pair with white fish and seafood dishes.
Service at Sushi Gin can be hit-and-miss. Friendly greetings and helpful service aside, the staff has yet to develop better knowledge on menu offerings, including sake pairing and availability of seasonal dishes. It is wise for guests to choose the bar over the dining room, where guests can enjoy a better view of chefs at work, a favourable pastime to make waiting time between courses seem shorter.
An a-la-carte dinner for two including a half-bottle carafe of sake and service amounts to HK$1,900, which does not hold the same satisfaction it gives for an omakase sushi lunch at the adjacent bar with a fraction of the cost.