Cover Gassan's head chef, Hoso Hidekatsu (Source: Gassan)

Whether you're craving omurice or omakase, yakitori or kaiseki, Hong Kong's newest Japanese restaurants are here to satiate you in the absence of travel to Japan

Over the course of the pandemic, one of the coping mechanisms that Hongkongers have resorted to when faced with a travel ban to Japan has been to eat Japanese food—and lots of it. As a result, omakase restaurants across the city have found their reservations snapped up for months ahead, with nary a seat to be found at some venues until mid-2022.

Against this backdrop, Hong Kong's dining scene welcomes four new Japanese restaurants covering a wide variety of cuisines—from omurice and omakase, to yakitori and kaiseki—each hoping to make a dent in the city's Japan-specific wanderlust. Keep reading and book swiftly, dear reader, to avoid disappointment.

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Torihachi

New to Quarry Bay's K11 Atelier is Torihachi, a new izakaya and sister restaurant of T8 Japanese Cuisine that serves a modern, elevated version of Japanese pub food. As with most izakayas, charcoal-grilled yakitori is the highlight, with Torihachi's signature selection comprising the skin, neck, tail and wings of the chicken, alongside rolls and tsukune "meatballs". Other delectable offerings include Ibérico pork pluma with hackberry leaf, sea urchin French toast, and the delicately assembled seven-layer tuna mille-feuille. These are best paired with a robust selection of beer, sake and chu-hais (shochu highballs) that are essential to any izakaya meal.

Lunch sets are also available to the office crowd, with a choice of rice bowls served with yakitori skewers, unagi, seasonal fish or beef steak from HK$108 up.

Torihachi, Shop G03, K11 Atelier, 728 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong; +852 3563 8532

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Grill Manten-Boshi

Founded in 1978 by the protégé of a chef to the Japanese imperial court, Grill Manten-boshi opened as a Japanese take on French cuisine, bridging a burgeoning middle class in Tokyo with aspirational Western cuisine during the economic boom times of the Eighties. While its Japanese branches serve Hamburg steaks with demi-glace sauce and baked rice with bouillon, it's best known today for its omelette rice, which features a silky soft layer of egg and a topping of prawns, scallops and green beans. 

Opening on November 12, Grill Manten-boshi's first Hong Kong venue in Harbour City will focus primarily on omurice. Served by itself, the omurice can also be paired with a side of burger patty or delicately fried tonkatsu. Diners can also add-on soups like lobster bisque, and end their meal with an assortment of fluffy Japanese pancakes.

Grill Manten-boshi, Shop OT301-301A, 3/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong; +852 3751 5345

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Gassan

When it opens later this month, diners visiting Gassan, the newest culinary addition to H Queen's, will be greeted with a life-like yakatabune houseboat, transporting them to the midst of a traditional Japanese fishing village. A sister restaurant of the ever-popular Hiyama in Tsim Sha Tsui, this new venue specialises in kaiseki, a traditional style of banquet analogous to the modern-day degustation menu, where each dish is designed to exhibit the purest expression of the seasons.

The 3,000-square-foot space is split into four sections: the main dining room, seating 26, and a 14-seat immersive private dining room both serve kaiseki menus that comprise of everything sakizuke ‘amuse bouche’ pickles, suimono soup and tsukuri sashimi, to yakimono grill, simmered takiawase, a shokuji rice specialty and mizugashi dessert. Then there's the two omakase counters (one of which can be found within the yakatabune itself) serving rarefied cuts of the day's catch straight from Tokyo's Toyosu seafood market.

Finally, a cellar housing over 300 bottles and 50 labels of sake and whisky ensures that guests are well supplied with award-winning and rare tipple, including sake from the Ginrei Gassan and Aramasa distilleries. Gassan opens from November 18 onwards.

Gassan, 19/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong; thefoodstoryhk.com/gassan, +852 3499 1427

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Sushi Hisayoshi

Also opening in Harbour City is the latest sushi bar to join the fray, Sushi Hisayoshi. Specialising in the Edomae style of sushi, the restaurant is headed by veteran chef Hisayoshi Iwa, who also founded the one-Michelin-starred Ginza Iwa in Tokyo. Sushi Hisayoshi will be helmed by his apprentice, chef Tsukasa Kaneko, who will be serving signature dishes such as an aged tuna sushi, abalone and ankimo (monkfish liver) as part of a 23-course tasting dinner menu (HK$2,180) in a 30-seat counter space designed by Junzo Irikado. Sushi Hisayoshi is currently slated to open sometime in the month of November.

Sushi Hisayoshi, Shop G111, G/F, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, 3-27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; instagram.com/sushi.hisayoshi.hk

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