Date of review: June 26, 2012 | Reviewed by: Lynn Fung
Located at Shui On Centre in Wan Chai opposite the Grand Hyatt, the entrance of Japanese restaurant Suzuike is a sedate grey stone door at the end of a long corridor. The tranquil ambience is continued inside, with wooden tables, a muted palate of cream chairs and Japanese paper screens. A few colourful canvasses give the restaurant a pop of colour. There are no windows, apart from in the private room at the back of the restaurant. A sushi counter with two chefs provide the only action in an otherwise very quiet dining room.
Suzuike serves a nine-course set menu (priced at HK$880 per head), plus an a la carte menu of sashimi, sushi, teppanyaki and some European dishes such as cream of mushroom soup and Caesar salad. We decide to order one set menu, plus a lobster bisque, a grilled Saga wagyu beef and a bowl of inaniwa udon from the a la carte menu. The set menu starts with a platter of sashimi, all of which were fresh and presented at a good temperature. The waitress had told us that the sea urchin was their freshest product of the day, but we found the uni to be strangely bland and tasteless. The foie gras sushi is served hot and well-cooked with the exterior nicely caramelised and the inside still soft, but we are not convinced that serving it sushi-style really added anything to the dish, apart from novelty factor. From the a la carte menu, we found the lobster bisque to be deeply flavoured but with a touch of bitterness, while the 100 grams of Saga beef was pure heaven. The meat was excellent quality and well-cooked, requiring little else besides some chopped spring onion and salt. It was perfectly complemented by the silky inaniwa udon in an aromatic broth with julienned yuzu peel. Back to the set menu, we were most disappointed with the seared scallop salad and the truffle somen. The salad consisted of plain iceberg and mesclun tossed in a delicate soy sesame dressing, with a single scallop that’s been sliced into three. It was a highly forgettable dish. Somen is a type of thin noodles, usually served cold. We had expected the truffle somen to be served in perhaps a light dashi broth, flavoured with truffle, especially as it was already the eighth course. Instead, it was a heavy cream-based plate of noodles, which clumped together. While it is certainly full of umami flavour and comforting, it was not very refined. For dessert, a single slice of muskmelon was presented, a sweet and simple ending to a meal filled with both highs and lows.
Suzuike has a limited sake menu, ranging from 300ml bottles or carafes that go for about HK$200, to full bottles priced closer to HK$1,000. Perhaps it was because we were the only people in the restaurant (apart from a party in the private room), but we found the service to be over-attentive, with our sake glasses topped up nearly every time a sip was taken.
While the staff were very knowledgeable about the menu, there was one hiccup. We had specified no toro at all, a preference that was adhered to in the sashimi selection, but the seared toro sushi course was brought to our table regardless. When we brought it to our waitress’ attention, she was apologetic but seemed confused, saying, “Oh I thought you didn’t want toro sashimi. I thought you might eat it as sushi.”
A meal for two (one set menu, plus three a la carte dishes) with a 300ml bottle of sake comes to HK$2,000. While the ingredients used at Suzuike are top-quality, we feel that the execution of the dishes could use a bit more work before the price can be justified.