Ramen, sashimi, Kakigōri, and curry – you name it, Hong Kong has it. We take a stroll through the city streets with Japanese foodie, Ayano Kasajima, to find the most delicious dishes her native country has to offer.
Prepare to drool people …
The fifth floor of The Loop building on Wellington Street hosts Sagrantino, a Japanese and Italian fusion restaurant offering unique flavours and cold pasta with sashimi selections. From here, I love the signature Cold Zuke (tuna) pasta ($128) garnished with finely chopped seaweed and grated wasabi on the side. The tuna, marinated with sweet soy sauce and a hint of fresh garlic, entangles perfectly with the cold pasta.
The chef at Sagrantino has been running his business for eight years in the same location and completely personifies this restaurant. He speaks humbly and uses ordinary ingredients, but enjoys experimenting with various combinations and preparation methods. To date, he has created hundreds of daily specials, which he often shares on his social media pages and are popular among his fans. The Manzo Carpaccio ($118), Pescatore ($148), and Ebimayo Pizza ($108) would be my top choices. There are a few items that are only available during lunch hour too, so be sure to check it out.
Sagrantino, 5/F, The Loop, 33 Wellington Street, Central, (+852) 2521 5188
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday (Lunch: 11.30 am – 3pm, Dinner: 6pm – 11pm) and Sunday (6pm – 11pm)
2. Shugetsu Born in the Ehime
Located on Gough Street, this authentic wooden Japanese ramen shop is a home to the best Abura noodles in Hong Kong. A direct translation of Abura noodles would be ‘oil noodles’, which are dressed with flavoured oil and tend to be thicker and more textured. I still remember visiting this place when it first opened, and getting there half an hour before it opened its doors to find a queue of people gathering around and peeking through the windows.
I walked in, sat at the corner of the counter, and ordered their signature dish of Shugetsu Tsukemen ($88), with condensed fish soup base, Abura noodles, and an extra soft-boiled egg to spoil myself! After finishing the noodles, you can request a round of soup from the staff who will give you a hot, light broth to lighten the condensed soup – the perfect way to end your meal. Shugetsu has always been one of my favorite Ramen shops in Hong Kong, and it has consistently retained its spot in Hong Kong’s Michelin Guide under the ‘Bib Gourmand’ feature: an award, which celebrates restaurants that provide exceptionally good food at moderate prices.
Shugetsu Born in the Ehime locations:
G/F, 5 Gough Street, Central, (+852) 2815 6009
G/F, 30 Hoi Kwong Street, Quarry Bay, (+852) 2854 998
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday (11.45 – 9.15) Saturday (12pm – 9pm) and Sunday (12pm – 7pm)
3. SAMA Soup Curry & Cafe
Further down from Shugetsu, towards the end of Gough Street, the playful stencil of SAMA’s mascot bear on the front door is hard to miss. Their curry soup comes from Southeast Asian and Indian influences from the 1970s in Japan, and has evolved into a quintessential 21st century Japanese hallmark. SAMA currently owns two stores in Hong Kong, and offers a variety of ingredients, choices of soup bases, and spiciness ranging from level 0 to 30. If you feel like entering the “Hall of Bravery”, then get yourself burnt with SAMA’s level 30 and be forever part of their very own Polaroid wall.
Unfortunately, my tolerance with spiciness is far from great and so I enjoyed my Keema Curry ($88) with a sweet coconut base, and nattou (fermented sticky beans) at a tingling level 4 of spiciness. For those who are reluctant to try nattou, I would recommend the Marathon Chicken ($88), Oink Oink ($96), and the Seafood Ocean Trophy ($108). Aside from the curry soup, appetizers such as the Shishitou Brussel Sprouts ($58), Hokkaido Corn Croquettes ($18), and the Spiced Chicken Karaage ($68) go really well together with their Hitachino Japanese craft beer. Read our Localiiz review here.
G/F, 51A Gough Street, Central, (+852) 2191 8850
G/F, No.5 Caroline Hill Road, Causeway Bay, (+852) 2766 0206
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday (Lunch: 11.30 am – 3pm, Dinner: 6pm – 11pm) and weekends (11am – 11pm)
4. Nagi Ramen
As I walked around the Tai Hang area, I came across a queue at around 6pm outside the door of Nagi Ramen shop, so I decided to see what the fuss was about and went inside. The staff were friendly, attentive, and provided the menu in Chinese, English, and Japanese. They have several stores in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and a store here in Hong Kong. Nagi Ramen uses twenty specifically selected and blended niboshi (dried sardines) from around Japan to create their deep flavorful soup base.
Nagi Ramen offers five types of soup bases, which are green, red, black, normal, and one limited edition. They encourage patrons to be “Wagamama” with their toppings, which means “to spoil yourself”. I went for the green soup base, blended basil garnished with Parmesan cheese, which was refreshing and delicious! The service here is excellent and welcoming all the way until the end, and the vivid voices heard coming from the open kitchen add to the fantastic atmosphere.
Nagi Ramen, 3 King Street, Tai Hang, (+852) 2573 2992
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday (Lunch: 11am – 3pm, Dinner: 5.30pm – 9pm)
It’s always wise to leave room for dessert, because this new Japanese dessert shop serves the best Kakigōri (shaved ice) dessert, and chiffon cakes with Japanese whipped cream and fruits. I loved trying the Matcha (green tea) dessert ($78) which is a bittersweet green tea with condensed milk on top of the softly shaved mountain of ice, with semi-sweetened chestnuts, azuki (red beans), and daily made shiratama (glutinous rice balls). Traditionally, shaved ice is considered a summer treat, but here at Echigoya, it is available all year round and is totally delicious. Give it a go!
Echigoya, G/F, 27 Shepherd Street, Tai Hang, (+852) 2505 5250
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday (11am – 11pm)
Bonus Bites: Café Life
For a little tea break, I like to go to Café Life located in PMQ, Aberdeen Street, for the delicious apple tart and hot tea or coffee. Currently, their seasonal dessert is Japanese Fuji Apple Pie ($65). Café Life follows the Japanese concept of dessert cafes and offers treats that are aesthetically pleasing, well-balanced between sweetness and texture, and cakes and pastries presented just as they appear on the menu. A worldwide selection of coffee beans can be found, roasted on the spot, and served by exceptional baristas – enjoy a perfect little tea break!
Café Life, S106 PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, (+852) 2858 8755
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday (11.30am – 8pm) and weekends (10.30am – 8pm)
Eat more! Check out more of our culinary adventures in the restaurant reviews below?
The Drunken Pot
Frites ‘Luxurious Sunday Roast Package’
El Mercado Peruvian-Japanese Fusion
Bistro Du Vin