Easy to locate thanks to the abundance of signs on the outside of Yip Fung building, the compact Japanese restaurant by ANA group in the middle of Lan Kwai Fong is dark, sleek and modern. Although the large windows must have seemed like a good idea, the second-floor location of the restaurant means that diners facing the window are treated to the glaring view of the brightly illuminated signs of Tsui Wah and 7/11 outside, not exactly easy on the eyes. The vibe is distinctly bar-like with chilled but hip background music and closely packed tables.
With a chef who spent six years at Inagiku, tempura is naturally a highlight at ANA Gura. The comprehensive tempura menu is separate from the main menu and includes not only tempura staples; but also modern interpretations such as uni tempura wrapped in seaweed, which is delicious, if a bit heavy. Other items that cater more to local tastes include tempura mantis shrimp and oysters; neither of which are normally seen in more traditional tempura restaurants, but there is no faulting the freshness of the seafood nor the lightness of the batter. Other unusual items on the menu include tempura Japanese garlic and egg yolk (both HK$28): the garlic is not anything special, unlike the runny egg yolk, which is a truly delicious and comforting mouthful. Moving onto the raw fish section, the sushi bar also utilises extremely fresh fish, but the rice is overcooked and mushy and comes without any crispy seaweed, which is sorely missed. The meat selection is the most disappointing part of the meal: both the grilled ox tongue (HK$48) and lamb rack (HK$88) score highly on seasoning and flavour, but both are overcooked, especially the very chewy ox tongue. The Japanese chicken wings (HK$48) and teppanyaki beef tenderloin (HK$188) are likewise lackluster, and the latter comes accompanied by very soggy garlic chips. Overall, we recommend staying with the tempura options.
About twenty sakes are listed on the drinks list, ranging from about HK$300 for 720ml to HK$2000. The staff is helpful with suggestions and are fairly knowledgeable about the sakes served. Shochu, fruit liqueur and aged whisky are also available.
Patchy: on the plus side, the staff are brutally honest about the menu, with one waitress volunteering that there is not much of a difference between the Japanese live shrimp and the local version apart from the price. However, they are still a little under-trained, with a couple of forgotten or mixed-up orders.
Expensive, especially on the tempura menu where the price listed is for just one piece of tempura. Dinner for two will be about HK$1,000 and up, excluding sake.