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While the concept of Bridges is Okinawan fine dining, the setting of the restaurant is not intimidating. Located on the sixth floor of Cubus building in Causeway Bay, the wooden interior is warm and welcoming, with a number of Japanese-style (i.e. shoes-off) private dining rooms. A shop selling Okinawan specialities such as awamori liquor is at the entrance, while a large horseshoe sushi bar featuring the freshest catches from Okinawa and other parts of Japan is the highlight in the main dining room. Wooden slats partially obscure the bright lights of the office buildings outside, lending to the cosy ambience of the restaurant.
Bridges is supported by the Okinawan government, which lends the restaurant a hand with the logistics of flying over jet-fresh ingredients from the southern Japanese island three times a week. Perhaps the partnership should consider flying more often: even given the rarity of the ingredients, it is annoying for a diner to be told that up to four of their requests were already sold out by 8pm on a quiet evening. What we did manage to order, however, were on the whole very impressive. Cold appetisers that particularly grabbed our fancy were the homemade peanut tofu, with its smooth and buoyant texture, which just feels inherently healthy. Same for the sea grapes, a type of seaweed indigenous to Okinawa which are served with a dash of ponzu. We also enjoyed the monkfish liver, which is cut into thick slices and served with thin slivers of cucumber and slightly spiced radish, which gives a hint of tartness and fire to otherwise creamy, terrine-like liver. For mains, two of the signature dishes from Bridges are particularly worth trying: a Motobu wagyu beef and stewed Agu pork with miso. The Motobu wagyu comes in two varieties: chunks of stone-grilled beef cooked on a mini grill in front of the diner; or a thinner slab of wagyu that comes lightly seared on the outside and raw in the middle, sliced into thin pieces. While we prefer the stone-grilled hunks of beef, carnivores will be mighty happy with either one, given the perfectly marbled and buttery flavour of the wagyu. The Agu pork stewed with miso tastes like a wonderful home-cooked dish; this is probably also one of the dishes where the Chinese influence on Okinawan cuisine is the most obvious. While not quite as tender as we would like, the pork is still deliciously fatty and complemented by the garnishes of spring onion as well as turnip. Okinawa is famous for a lot of ingredients and not surprisingly for an island, salt is one of them. For dessert, make sure to try the Okinawan salted cookie ice-cream to see what the fuss is all about.
The alcohol selection at Bridges includes a range of the indigenous distilled rice liquor known as awamori which ranges in size, aging and price. For something a bit lighter, there is also sake, shochu and plum wine available. Rounding off the list are two types of Japanese whiskies (Yamazaki and Hibiki) as well as a limited selection of red and white wines by the bottle, mostly from France and California.
While the waiters are knowledgeable about the menu and capable of listing off the freshest daily catches and their provenance, there is still room for improvement. When an order is forgotten, the waiter is unapologetic and suggests that the diner was unclear; teacups and sake glasses are left empty; and the attention of the staff can be surprisingly difficult to get. There is a distinct disconnect between the level of service offered and the fine-dining prices charged.
A meal for two comes to about HK$1,800 with a small bottle of sake. Given the premium ingredients, this seems reasonable value.