HK: first stop: Japanese food of course!


Grouchy, grouchy, grouchy.

I don’t sleep on planes. I’d love to be able to do so, but I just can’t. Tristan can quite happily but I can’t.

So after arriving in Hong Kong via a few hours in Kuala Lumpur, I was in a foul mood. Also, I hadn’t done any swotting and we were staying in Chungking Mansions. Barring some parts of the Philippines I’ve been in (my mother’s side is three hours’ drive from Manila and it’s…provincial in her parts, to say the least), it is the dodgiest, seediest place I’ve ever been to in my life.

Welcome to Kowloon. My fellow foodie now expat Melburnian friend Alex said “you know how north(ern Melbourne) is cool and gritty? Kowloon is like that, only just gritty.”

An excellent call (yeah, north of the Yarra all the way, sorry folks. South of the Thames as a kid too, booyah!).

I did a search for what was round our parts food-wise and recommended in the Lonely Planet HK guide and an authentic izakaya called Kyozasa came up. Oddly enough, raw fish is one of my comfort foods, so we headed up there. It’s not hard to find, but seeing as I can’t read kanji or hiragana anymore, Tristan and I were a little confused.

Things were most encouraging once we entered. It’s small and full of awesome Japanese knick-knacks which adorn the walls and shelves.

The menu is pretty rad too. I really, really wanted to steal one!

As is usual at izakaya, you just keep ordering dishes and drink to share till you’re sated. One of the more unusual dishes we chose was raw salted cuttlefish. The waitress politely said “it’s law…” and I indicated with a big grin that that was okay!

It tastes like the sea in way similar to fresh oysters, and yet slightly different to any I’ve ever sampled – the saltiness is very subtle and gosh, so very fresh. I probably would have believed them if they’d told me they plucked them right out of the sea just for us.

Look, I know they’re available fecking everywhere, but edamame is mandatory. Addictive little bastards.

Another unusual fancy was grated yam served over raw tuna. The yam was really, really sticky and actually pretty hard to separate. It felt a little like marshmallow on the tongue.

Pretty sure these lamps were out of wartime Japan. I recall seeing similar such ones in the animated tear-jerking film Grave of the Fireflies. Wish I could read what the illuminated sign says!

Again, I know people don’t go to Hong Kong for Japanese cuisine, but holy fuck, this was hands-down the best sashimi platter I’d ever had in my life. There was a larger selection of fish as well as prawns and scallops. Heavenly.

After asking the staff what sake they thought would go nicely with our food and whether or not it was best served hot, we plied ourselves with some flasks of it. To end our evening, I snuck in a cheeky long glass of warm shochu! It made for a pleasant night’s sleep on my first day in Hong Kong.

Where? Kyosaza
Address 20 Ashley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
phone 2376 1888
MTR Tsim Sha Tsui exit E

(note, sometimes the HK Lonely Planet guide stuffs up what MTR exit you should exit from but I think this might be right)

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7 thoughts on “HK: first stop: Japanese food of course!

  1. Injera

    We didn’t have any Japanese while in HK, and I’m really regretting it after reading this post. Particularly since a friend who lived in HK for a number of years and has travelled to Japan frequently said that you could find sashimi in HK of equal quality to that in Japan… but a LOT cheaper.

    Excellent discovery! Yet another reason to return to HK (although I might avoid the Chungking Mansions).

    1. admin

      The quality was incredible, and I’m not a huge sashmi fan. And yes, sooooo cheap.

      I am counting the years (sob) until I get to go back to HK. I’m sure even more food can be packed in, especially with training 🙂

    2. Gem

      I wouldn’t be surprised! Seriously, this place easily crapped all over whatever I’ve had here and the price was ridiculously inexpensive. I did want to go back to this place but alas, so many other places called…

      I’d make an effort to go back, next time I find myself in HK.

  2. Michelle

    You actually stayed at Chungking mansions! My parents and I like to talk about that building each time we pass by it!

    Man, this izakaya thing sounds like some place I would go but since my very Chinese dad is there, I do not dare suggest anything other than yum cha…

    1. Gem

      You should go! And yes, I can’t believe I stayed at Chungking Mansions either. Oh well, I did no research whatsoever and let the lad book our accommodation, hehe.

  3. Fatbooo

    Hahaha … waitress says “it’s law” 😀

    The sashimi platter looks very very good! And i totally agree with you that edamame is an integral part of a Japanese meal. : )

    1. gem Post author

      I need to buy some soy beans in pods myself. They are just delicious. Glad someone liked the “law” thing, it was so cute, she was almost apologetic for the warning, hehe.


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