I don’t often wax lyrical about my meals. Especially if they are what I consider to be ludicrously expensive. But V and I chanced upon Wagyu Kaiseki Den when we were eating at an Italian resto along Hollywood Road right across from it earlier this year in a short stop in HK.
To be fair, we first spotted a girl dressed in a kimono smoking on the street, who disappeared into this big, grand nondescript-looking door. (It looks very much like the animation featured on the restaurants website.) We noticed the sign and got curious. So being dutiful XYZ-genners – we googled it. And we were bombarded by nothing but rave reviews. We were not quite sold, so we ventured across the road and walked right in after dinner.
When we entered, we were disoriented for a while by the dim lighting at the bar. A holding area I assume, for guests waiting for their seating. I registered a lot of slick black walls and marble as we went up the dimly lit stairs to speak to the maitre d.
The restaurant itself has two dining spaces. The actual sushi bar – which I recommend because that is where all the action is. Or a private dining room that sits up to 16.
Though we initially were deterred by the HKD$1800 min price tag for omakase, V was probably in a “We’re on holiday, so let’s go big or go home”- mood, and quickly made reservations for the next day.
So was it worth it?
HKD$1800 is roughly SGD$350. Add tax and service charge, and the fact we ordered two small bottles of sake during dinner, the tab ran up close to SGD$500. EACH.
(The average price of a bottle of sake there costs roughly HKD$2000 each.)
And yet, I left with an autographed menu that I still keep in my suitcase because the dinner was absolutely spectacular! I definitely would declare this as one of my best overseas dining experiences to date.
From the first course that when photographed from the top, could look like the sun setting over a cherry blossom tree during spring in Japan, to our last savoury item – an uni filled claypot truffled rice dish – every leaf or grain on every slate or plate was not out of place. But every dish was plated so beautifully that at times, it felt like a crime to be eating art.
Since Wagyu is in its name, I actually expected every single course to be beef based, but I was wrong. Every dish brought me on a culinary journey through Japan and since we were there in spring… there was a light freshness, a sense of expectation and anticipation in every dish.
The second dish – an uni dish with gelee was beautiful. I was intrigued as I thought it was the soup dish. But the gelee had a lovely texture that was smooth and gelatinous. Not clumpy and starchy. It tasted more like essence of a light broth that had been reduced for hours to this little lake of flavour. And there was a surprising amount of seafood in all the dishes.
The sashimi platter was quite the stunner. Every single slice of fish was so fresh, it felt like we were eating by the sea. And the attention to detail even on the preparation of this, is impeccable, right down to the spiral of radish entwined like a tight spring coil.
The WAGYU though. Oh.
The first taste we had of the namesake was on our sushi platter! The tiniest morsel of beef, atop the perfectly done rice, served with a delicate whip of spuma of soy sauce on the top. YES. You heard me right. Soy sauce. IN A FOAM. AAAH! *insert lovey-dovey eyed smiley emoticon here*
I know that this metaphor is used much too often. But it literally dissolved in my mouth. I am so glad I ate that the last. And each perfect little bite size mounds of sushi looked small, yet, were perfectly proportioned. Somewhat like Eva Longoria on a plate.
That was just the teaser though.
The main wagyu dish was four, perfect lego bricks of tenderloin beef sourced from Kagoshima. Done so perfectly. When it hit my tongue, I thought I died and went to heaven.
My tastebuds were meanwhile, having a celebration in my mouth, it probably looked like a charismatic Christian Sunday Service in there!
We shared a sake with the chef, and he apologised via an interpreter, that he was sorry we were eating there while it was not truffle season. His signature truffle dish is otherwise usually served with heaps of truffle shavings, instead of the truffle paste that we had. So I definitely want to return, just to try this dish out again.
Their handmade mochi dessert looked like gloop in a cup. But while it looked like like a transluscent grub, mucking about in what looked like gula melaka syrup, it was… oh. Divine.
Some might not be impressed with the restaurant, perhaps because of its lack of ostentation. But, personally.. I like its simplicity and minamilist elegance – something that echoed throughout the dinner that left me swooning.
Wagyu Kaiseki Den
|Monday||6:00 – 11:00 pm|
|Tuesday||6:00 – 11:00 pm|
|Wednesday||6:00 – 11:00 pm|
|Thursday||6:00 – 11:00 pm|
|Friday||6:00 – 11:00 pm|
|Saturday||6:00 – 11:00 pm|