In the rarefied realm of kaiseki, where customers are invited to experience full immersion in the virtuosity of Japanese cuisine, seasonality reigns supreme. This makes Hong Kong one of the best places outside of Japan to indulge in kaiseki, thanks to the relatively short flying distance from the cuisine’s birthplace, which makes it possible for ingredients to arrive in town the same morning. In celebration of this city’s fascination with kaiseki, we pick the best restaurants to enjoy the freshest flavours of Japan in Hong Kong.
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Ryota Kappou Modern
The newest addition to the local kaiseki scene, Ryota Kappou Modern doesn’t look like a typical Japanese haute cuisine institution thanks to owner and interior designer Louie Shum’s sophisticated Scandi-inflected aesthetic. He has partnered with Tenku Ryugin alum Ryota Kanesawa to bring this restaurant to life, devising dishes based on the philosophy of “simplicity, excellence.” Go for the eight-course premium tasting menu at HK$2,080, which focuses on a different cooking method for each dish.
21/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, 2628 1899; ryota.hk
Formerly known as Sushi Ta-ke, this expansive restaurant relocated in 2018 to a new bamboo-adorned premises designed by world-famous architect Kengo Kuma. Counters for sushi, teppanyaki and tempura cater to different cravings, and the 8-course degustation menu at HK$1,280 offers a taste of all of the restaurant’s offerings while constantly changing to reflect the seasons.
28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay, 2577 0611; ta-ke.com.hk
Hidden in an alley behind one of our favourite lunch spots, Godenya is a compact, austere space reflecting the ethos behind chef-owner Shinya Goshima’s minimalist cooking methods. Highly seasonal, the menu changes every month to embrace the essential flavours of each ingredient, which range from Mie rock oyster and Kyoto eggplant to wild ayu sweetfish. Each course is paired with a sake that draws on Chef Goshima’s encyclopedic knowledge of the rice wine, and is served at a precise temperature to unlock the full potential of each pairing. The sake pairing menu is priced at HK$1,600 for eight-courses.
182 Wellington Street, Central; godenya.com
Fusing French influences with Japanese techniques, Chef Hideaki Sato’s creations at Ta Vie are a prime example of the brilliance that emerges from the marriage of these two cuisines. This two Michelin-starred restaurant serves a 10-course degustation menu priced at HK$2,080 that changes often, featuring a global range of ingredients, all in their prime. An extensive alcohol menu offers rare French wines and more eclectic Asian vintages, alongside sake and cocktails.
21 Stanley Street, Central, 2668 6488; tavie.com.hk
Headed by Argentinian chef Agustin Balbi, Haku counters the oftentimes ritualistic nature of kaiseki with a convivial atmosphere that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The best place to enjoy the HK$1,480 eight-course tasting menu is at the 12-seat counter where you can observe Balbi (who was mentored by Hideaki Matsuo of three Michelin-starred Kashiwaya) concoct dishes such as chu-toro with Polmard beef tartare, and A4 Kagoshima wagyu beef cooked over a binchotan grill. A la carte is also available, which is a rarity for kaiseki restaurants.
G04B, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2115 9965; haku.com.hk
Takumi by Daisuke Mori
An alum of French culinary institutions including Tokyo’s three Michelin-starred Chateau Restaurant Joel Robuchon and the two-starred Restaurant Taillevent in Paris, Daisuke Mori’s profound understanding of French gastronomy is readily apparent in his 10-course kaiseki menu at this 12-seater Wan Chai restaurant. Encompassing dishes like Oscietra caviar with Hokkaido uni and charcoal-grilled wagyu tenderloin, the HK$2,080 menu also comes with a six-glass wine pairing option.
The Oakhill, 16 Wood Road, Wan Chai, 2574 1299; takumibymori.com
An offshoot of the famed three Michelin-starred Kashiwaya in Osaka, the two-starred Hong Kong location features three kaiseki menus that range from nine dishes at HK$1,800, to 11 dishes at HK$4,000 – what remains consistent, however, is that 80 percent of the menu is true to the original restaurant. What’s more, all of the ingredients are flown in from Japan for hyper-seasonality, down to the soft water used to cook the rice. Diners are in the capable hands of head chef Atsushi Takahashi, who worked under Kashiwaya founder Hideaki Matsuo for 20 years.
8/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, 2520 5218; jp-kashiwaya.com
CreditHeader photo courtesy of Haku