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Header image courtesy of Ta-ke Japanese Restaurant (via Facebook)
It’s not a revelation that Hongkongers love Japanese cuisine, especially the good stuff—from 25-course sushi meals to elaborate kaiseki experiences and fried tempura that does not leave so much of a whisper of oil on its paper, we simply cannot get enough.
The pinnacle of Japanese fine dining is, of course, the omakase (お任せ; “I’ll leave it to you”) meal, where diners leave every last detail of their experience in the chef’s hands. However, while enjoying your first omakase meal can be a transcendental experience, developing a taste for the finer things in life can really burn a hole in your wallet—which is why we’ve put together a list of our favourite restaurants where you can find (relatively) affordable omakase meals under $1,000.
Note: While omakase does not strictly refer to sushi, the vast majority of entries we’ve chosen to feature either specialise in sushi or offer sushi as one of their omakase experiences.
With a veteran Japanese sushi chef at its helm and omakase starting at $450 and $980 for lunch and dinner, respectively, Sushi Hakucho sent tongues wagging when it opened in November. Unlike the traditional Edo-style—characterised by its aged, marinated fish and purist approach—that is normally held up as the height of high-end sushi, Hakucho specialises in Kyushu-style sushi, which favours fresh seafood from Kyushu, occasionally accentuated with complementary ingredients.
Like with any omakase sushi meal, the exact fish on offer is dictated by seasonality, but some standouts that have been served in the months since Hakucho first opened include the signature squid with quail egg yolk gunkan, Kumamoto tuna nigiri, and uni hand roll.
Sushi Hakucho, G13, Harbour Pinnacle, 8 Minden Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2109 1155
Not to be confused with Sushi Shikon in the Landmark, Shion is an intimate, small sushi bar on Wellington Street. While Shion has kept a relatively low profile so far, chef Seiji Adachi’s fans, who have followed him from Ta-ke and Sushi Kami, return time and time again for his efficient-yet-elegant 12-course omakase lunch ($680), so be prepared to book up to two months in advance.
With his punctual 90-minute lunch sessions and impeccable hospitality—honed over Adachi-san’s years of serving business lunches, no doubt—Sushi Shion is a blessing for Central office types looking for their fix of buttery flounder nigiri and otoro hand rolls—though you will have to add a little extra if you want to try Adachi-san’s signature trio of uni.
Shion, Shop B, UG/F, Winway Building, 50 Wellington Street, Central | (+852) 2311 0007
Occupying a small corner shop in the quiet, hip neighbourhood of Poho, Uogashi is a long-standing family-run sushi-ya helmed by one of Hong Kong’s few female sushi masters, Kelly-san. Kelly-san’s omakase lunch set—which includes salad, chawanmushi, eight pieces of sushi, three sushi rolls, miso soup, and a noodle dish—rings in at around $300 per head.
Chef Kelly, who has over 20 years of experience, is always ready and willing to explain her exact reasoning for the preparation of each dish, the origin of the ingredients, and more. To hear everything Kelly-san has to say at a more relaxed pace, head to Uogashi during dinner service, when an omakase meal will set you back roughly $600 per head.
Uogashi, Shop A, 32 Tai Ping Shan Road, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2896 6336
With its concentration of Japanese restaurants, it’s no wonder that some of the best affordable omakase meals can be found in Causeway Bay. Tucked away on the sixth floor of a commercial building in Jardine’s Bazaar, Sushi Sansen is a well-appointed eatery providing elegant omakase experiences at three price points, all of which include a salad, chawanmushi, udon, and dessert. The sho menu ($328) includes eight pieces of sushi, while the sushi menu ($398) contains a whopping 12 pieces of sushi, and the go menu ($468) comprises four pieces of sashimi and six pieces of sushi.
Like at many high-end sushi-yas, the sushi at Sansen is carefully seasoned with different accoutrements to best bring out the flavours of the fish—a sprinkling of charcoal salt here, a touch of yuzu peel there. The pièce de résistance, however, is the sea urchin hand roll, which features the delicate orange “tongues” atop a strip of sushi rice, wrapped in an open-faced piece of nori.
Sushi Sansen, 6/F, Jardine Center, 50 Jardine’s Bazaar, Causeway Bay | (+852) 6167 6883
If your only requirement for an omakase sushi meal is just sushi, and a lot of it—not the complementary appetisers and seasonal dishes, the Japanese-style hospitality, or a big-name chef personally crafting every piece of sushi behind a blond hinoki-wood bar—then the bang-for-your-buck menus at Sushi Kumo will be sure to satisfy. Like many restaurants offering omakase sushi, there are a few menus to choose from—sho ($380), kumo ($450), and gin ($680)—but unlike many of the other entries on this list, all of Kumo’s omakase meals come in at under $1,000.
This is by design; Kumo’s founder, who previously worked as a chef at a Michelin-recommended restaurant, designed the restaurant to be more accessible than mid- to high-end sushi restaurants in order to allow more people to experience authentic Japanese sushi. The most affordable experience is all about the nigiri—you’ll get 10 pieces of seasonal sushi, one hand roll, and a miso soup. Meanwhile, the other two menus offer just seven pieces of sushi, but have an additional sashimi course, with the former presenting four pieces of seasonal raw fish, while the latter offers seven.
Formerly operating under the name Sushi Ta-ke on Hoi Ping Road, Ta-ke moved around the corner to a larger location at Lee Garden 2 and expanded its concept to include teppanyaki, tempura, and kaiseki. The best bang for your buck can be found at the sushi counter, where an omakase lunch including six pieces of sushi and eight other dishes can be had for $480.
Two of the premium omakase sushi lunches—which include an appetiser, sashimi, a seasonal dish, various pieces of seasonal sushi, soup, and dessert—ring in at $980 and $1,380, respectively. However, if you bring a date—which you will want to do when you see Ta-ke’s romantic décor—you can take advantage of the two-for-one offer available on premium tasting menus for members of 1957 & Co.’s free loyalty programme.
Ta-ke, Shop G01, Lee Garden 2, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2577 0611
This popular Tsim Sha Tsui sushi restaurant is known for its extensive-yet-inexpensive omakase meals, with lunch ranging from $300 to $580 for up to 13 courses, while dinnertime presents a whopping 25-course experience at just $1,300. If you are looking for the best seats in the house, they can be found at the sushi bar, where Chef Man—a local Hongkonger—entertains and educates his diners, even occasionally having a drink or two with guests.
Although the service here is not the polished, almost deferential hospitality one expects at top-tier Japanese restaurants, the friendliness and accessibility is all part of the appeal of Kokorozashi, making it a great place to catch up with friends or bring a date.
Kokorozashi, 17/F, 17–19 Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2265 8828
Another relative newcomer is T8, a teppanyaki and sushi restaurant in Central that opened in November. Its teppanyaki degustation menu ($698) offers a refined Japanese take on surf and turf with grilled delights like foie gras, lobster, and Wagyu, while the omakase lunch ($688) provides a comprehensive experience with salad, chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し; steamed egg custard), sashimi, one seasonal dish, eight pieces of nigiri sushi, miso soup, pickles, and dessert.
Some of the pieces that keep customers coming back are the seared olive flounder muscle nigiri, the aged otoro nigiri, and the rotund uni sushi.
T8, 5/F, Grand Progress Building, 15-16 Lan Kwai Fong, Central | (+852) 2393 8133