Tsim Sha Tsui
Date of review: September 1, 2017 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
Located at the end tip of Harbour City’s Ocean Terminal, Tsukada Nojo is not the most accessible. Diners must pass through the arcade and terminal, but will soon be rewarded as the new casual Japanese eatery is set against a spectacular harbour view.
The dining room is spacious and well-lit, thanks to an extensive spread of floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests entering the space will pass an open kitchen with high bar seating, followed by a few spacious banquettes on the corner and evenly-spaced tables spread throughout the room. The extensive use of wood in its décor stays true to the restaurant’s concept of seasonal farm produce and simple cooking served at the restaurant.
With more than 150 restaurants in Japan and a handful throughout Asia including Singapore and Indonesia, Tsukada Nojo opened its first Hong Kong branch at Harbour City earlier this summer, boasting a farm-to-table concept featuring fresh seasonal produce imported directly from Japan with support from a few local farms as well. The restaurant prides itself on its signature bijin nabe, a hot pot made with a collagen-rich chicken stock, whose variations spread from the original chicken, beef sukiyaki, to tomato and salmon with coriander.
The assorted three bijin fresh spring rolls resemble Vietnamese rice paper rolls, where the fillings are packed within stubby rice rolls. We were particularly impressed with the shrimp and avocado rice paper roll, well-seasoned and fresh with a tangy dressing that cuts its richness. The eel and cream cheese variety was slightly too rich for our taste.
Vegetable-oriented dishes dominate the main menu, and marinated avocado in miso paste is the highlight of the evening. Ripe avocado halves were marinated in white miso for three whole days before they were sliced and served. The grassy chunks of avocado are enhanced with a touch of umami from the miso, and a touch of wasabi served on the side added zing on the palate.
The grilled free-range chicken with salt is simple but good. Tender chunks of chicken were char-grilled with chicken fat, gaining a crisp crust and needing just a touch of salt to taste the juicy bird. The Japanese omelette resembled a Spanish tortilla, made in a cast-iron vessel and flipped onto a plate tableside and served as is. The omelette was airy and sweet, although it generated quite a bit of moisture that softened the golden crust.
The izakaya-style set up at Tsukada Nojo is reflected in the restaurant’s extensive selection of beverages, spanning from beers to Japanese sakes, where the latter features a flight of five types from the establishment’s selection. Umeshu, or Japanese plum wine is also popular, although we prefer highball cocktails and Japanese-inspired mojitos more fitting for food pairing here.
Service is satisfactory at Tsukada Nojo, as most staff are keen to help introducing the restaurant’s concept and recommending signature dishes, yet the team has yet to familiarise with sources of ingredients and information on the beverage list. Service is generally attentive, although delivery of dishes can be a little slow at peak dining intervals.
A dinner for two at Tsukada Nojo amounts to HK$500. With the great harbour view and a generous selection casual Japanese dishes with good value. Tsukada Nojo is a good choice for gatherings worthy of many returns.