Date of review: May 25, 2017 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
Anticipation was high when Tsuta’s opening was announced. After two new branches in Singapore and one in Taiwan launching earlier this year, Hong Kong’s opened Monday, quickly generating queues of ramen lovers waiting to sample a taste of the Michelin-rated noodles.
Tsuta greets guests with an open view of the kitchen, surrounded by 20 high-stool seats. On one side of the space is a room where ramen noodles are made from scratch. The dining room is embellished with an abundance of light-coloured wood and earth tones, matched with warm bright lighting. Guests may not have the option to choose their seats, but prime seating lies at the front of the prep kitchen where bowls of ramen are made in front of the guests and handed over the counter directly from kitchen to table.
Tsuta’s menu is small, a mere one-pager with two types of ramen: shoyu (soy-sauce based) and shio (salt-based) ramen. Options in each category vary by the addition of topping, from char siu (braised pork slices), bamboo shoots, leek juliennes, and marinated soft-boiled egg, some of which can be ordered as add-ons on the side, as well as extra noodles, and a few small rice dishes on offer.
We ordered the Ajitama char siu shio soba. The salt-based ramen broth has a consommé quality – lightly golden and clear with clean flavours of chicken and fish, the latter slightly lighter than anticipated. The shio soba is served with a dab of green olive and truffle oil condiment, a rich flavour enhancing addition that adds dimension to the broth, but only if you fancy olives to begin with.
The signature Ajitama shoyu soba adds a touch of truffle paste in the light ramen broth, with added soy sauce into the base. We find it a little bit light to our taste. The soba noodles have the right texture, but it strays towards mushy the longer it stays in the hot broth. The marinated egg is a nice touch with a creamy molten yolk that clings onto the noodle itself. The charsiu, however, was thin and bland.
Those with an appetite for rice can order the Ro-Siu meshi, where a small bowlful of steamed rice is topped with thin ribbons of grilled pork shoulder. The seasoning was done on point that adds just enough moisture to the soft bed of steamed rice.
Guests are required to pre-order and pre-pay for their food before they are seated. It is worth noting that once seated they can no longer place additional orders, which may become a hassle should you feel the need to order more.
This section is unrated because Tsuta serves no alcoholic beverages, nor water for its guests. The only option is a homemade wheat tea, served hot or cold. The tea itself was a steaming brew that wasn’t very strong but one that leaves a bitter aftertaste. We prefer the cold version better, though it was served slightly cooler than room temperature, the bitterness was less potent.
Service staff at Tsuta is friendly to greet guests on the queue, and occasionally check in on updates and estimated waiting time. There is little need for service beyond order, but both the chefs and the service team are keen on answering questions and offering descriptive details on the restaurant’s history and concepts.
A meal for two including one beverage each amounts to around HK$330. At the time of our visit, the establishment is cash-only, with a soon-to-be- available option to pay with Octopus card in the future. Tsuta certainly ticks all the boxes for novelty. Opening jitters aside, we hope the establishment can match the quality and finesse of its Tokyo branch, allowing guests to enjoy the same ramen experience that garnered the brand accolades in the first place.