Cosy gem in an unexpected spot

Updated: 2013-08-10 08:34

By Donna Mah in Hong Kong (China Daily)

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Hikari Japanese Cuisine is a surprising find. The small and cosy restaurant is on the second floor of what looks like a smallish commercial building in Causeway Bay.

Looking at the list of tenants, we found there were a number of restaurants, as well as lounge bars. We had uncovered a slightly hidden food and beverage destination in the heart of one of the busiest areas in Hong Kong.

At Hikari, we noticed a large display board at the entrance listing what was fresh and being offered at value-for-money prices. We also asked to try a few of the signature dishes.

For starters, we had Japanese onsen egg served with Parma ham on chilled bonito flake jelly. It was a perfect way to start a meal on a hot day. The flavors were clean and delicate with the bonito flake jelly and Parma ham having just the right amount of saltiness to complement the creamy rich yolk of the egg.

As we sat at the bar enjoying our meal, we watched chefs Star Chau and Kazuhiro Numata as they prepared the various dishes, often stopping to explain the ingredients and how best to enjoy them.

Oysters and sea urchin were served fresh with perilla (shiso) flowers, adding a unique flavor to the fresh seafood.

The toro (fatty tuna) sashimi had thinly sliced salty mullet roe from Italy on top of thick slices of delicate fish. There was probably a dipping sauce, but the toro and dried mullet roe eaten together required no further enhancement.

The grilled kinki fish was on promotion and priced at only HK$398 ($65). This fish was served whole and cooked to look like it is still happily swimming along. The white flesh was soft and, with only a light sprinkling of sea salt before cooking, we didn't really need to dip the meat in the sauce provided.

Other dishes worth mentioning are the golden egg with beef, which is a deep-fried onsen egg served on thin slices of sukiyaki beef, the seasonal assorted sushi, the anago (saltwater eel) sushi, which is less rich than unagi (freshwater eel) and has a softer texture, and the flourless chocolate cake.

Hikari has a small outdoor terrace, referred to as the "beer garden", which looks to be a great place for a private party or casual gathering with an outdoor grill.

A monthly kaiseki menu is also available for HK$880 per person.