Traditionally, Japanese cuisine places a huge emphasis on the use of fresh seasona l ingred ients. Seafood – particularly fish – is often grilled, served raw as sashimi or sushi or deep-fried in a light batter as tempura. Sushi and Sashimi are not just healthy, but are simply delicious, inevitably making for a hugely satisfying meal.
For the ultimate Japanese dining experience then, there are two things to bear in mind. Firstly – and most obviously – there is a need for high-quality and fresh raw seafood. Then you have to decide just which of a range of flavourings and added ingredients you want to opt for, some of which can be very expensive indeed.
One venue where you can be assured of a splendid range of options on both counts is Sushi Love, a fairly recentish new Causeway Bay venture by Chef Kato Osamu and his team. As his name suggest, Osamu is authentically Japanese and brings with him more than 20 years of experience in Hong Kong and in some of Japan’s foremost eateries. For locals, he will be best known for his time at the Sheraton Hotel’s Unkai Japanese restaurant.
Arriving at the restaurant you are immediately transported into a typical Japanese setting. Indeed, the interior of this 32-seater restaurant is wholly redolent of Japan’s unique culture. The warmth of the natural wood used throughout – on the sushi bar counter, tables, walls and ceiling – contributes hugely to this ambiance. Overall, the result is both cozy and casual.
For a pre-meal aperitif, the sake menu lists some 15 different varieties, with each one clearly described in detailed tasting notes, making it easy for even the novice to make an informed choice. We opted for the Eikun Kotosennen, which was particularly recommended to us. It came well-chilled in a transparent glass pot filled with ice. It proved silky, dry and elegantly refreshing.
With some of the best perches in the house, along the 12-seater sushi counter, we had the added bonus of being able to converse with Chef Osamu and watch him at work, as he skillfully set about preparing the best sashimi and sushi. Piqued by what we had witnessed, we opted for the Omakase tasting menu (HK$1200).
This included eight different courses and proved quite a treat. As a palate refresher, we began with the smoothly blended edamame and sweet potato puree, served with pale green Japanese vegetables coated in jelly.For us, unfortunately, it proved a little cold and bland – but maybe that was the point.
The chef then placed a wooden board full of pickled ginger in front of us and began to serve the first round of sashimi – thinly-sliced Kanpachi yellowtail. This had a light translucent colour and simply melted in the mouth.
Next up was the Japanese snapper, beautifully-sliced and accompanied by a mixture of chopped chives, Japanese red chilli paste and a tangy soy sauce. The mildly spicy, salty and sour sauce ideally complemented the mild, delicate taste of the snapper.
The gorgeous peachy orange and deep-red fleshed salmon sashimi proved tender, instantly making clear just why its richly fresh flavorful taste was so prized.The skinned Bonito (Katsuo) sashimi was marinated in finely-chopped juvenile radish and green spring onion with just a hint of lemon. The flesh was pale reddish, firm, lustrous and well balanced by a hint of zest. The snapper sashimi, meanwhile, all delicately flavoured with wasabi, proved equally exhilarating.
A personal favouite, though, turned out to be the hand-roll, freshly made made with goose liver sandwiched between pan seared scallops and wrapped neatly in a piece of seaweed – truly unique. The scallops were served warm, moist and juicy.The thick pieces of yellow-tail fish (Hamachi) with charming diagonal cuts, topped with a dollop of Japanese green chilli paste, proved just as delightful to the palate. The luscious and buttery texture of the fish, left tingling sensations in the mouth and a lingering tangy finish.
To follow, the grilled sea bass with a reddish Shibui sauce delivered a notably sweet and spicy garlic essence. The fish, though, was slightly tough and dry, with a peculiar fishy taste. This was more than made up for by the soft shell crab roll with its layer of avocado and generous topping of salmon, crispy on the inside and with the perfect amount of sushi rice coating the creamy and fleshy avocado.
This was immediately followed by the simply mesmerising sea eel nigiri sushi, fetchingly glazed with a shiny coat of Tsume sauce and wasabi. The middle-cut tuna nigiri sushi to follow was raw and firm fleshed, while the fatty tuna nigiri sushi came
slightly seared with a strong garlicky taste, but was exceptionally soft, allowing you to savour every bite.
The tempura platter – kernel corn, fresh halved fig and Kisu fish tempura – came next, elegantly served with salt, a thick gooey fig accompaniment and a dashi based dipping sauce. The Kisu – a common Japanese fish – was soft, fat-free and scrumptious.
The fig and corn tempura had a pleasant sweetish taste and a lovely crunch.
A truly magical finish to our meal came courtesy of the large boned fish immersed in a miso soup, together with green onion and seaweed, immense and satisfying. Thankfully, with little space to spare, the only dessert served here was Japanese ice cream in a choice of six flavours, including sesame, green tea, red bean and pineapple.
If sashimi and sushi are not quite your thing, then don’t despair, Sushi Love also has a selection of Udon, Soba, Hot pot and grilled and fried meat dishes It also offers a set lunch every day from 12pm to 3pm, 10 menu choices and prices from $210 to $420. Dinner reservations can be made daily between 6pm to 11pm.
Address: 12th Floor, Henry House,
42 Yun Ping Road,
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Reservation: (852) 2851 9128