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Long-time residents and new arrivals both marvel at the landmark that is The Peninsula Hong Kong. The veritable hotel stands out by virtue of its history, location and colonial architecture, but is revered for many other reasons – food being one of them. While Imasa may not be as famous as Gaddi’s or Felix, the steady stream of clientele to its traditional, somewhat quaint dining room is testament to its success. There’s nothing overtly Japanese about the interior aside from sparing touches of wood, lacquer and the typical restraint employed in “Zen-like” settings. Perhaps the most obvious clue to the cuisine you’re about to eat is the flurry of servers in Japanese garb. Nevertheless, the restaurant’s décor is welcoming and comfortable, and seems to encourage one to linger. Should you decide so beforehand, book one of Imasa’s function rooms located at the end of the dining room.
The servers at Imasa welcome diners with extraordinary warmth, as if they’re regular patrons. Probably because they’re confident that after the meal, these first time diners will return. The food here adheres to the basic principles of what makes a restaurant great: good ingredients, consistent cooking and a straightforward menu. The menu is relatable, with a focus of bringing an authentic slice of Japan to Hong Kong.
Dinner at Imasa is a relaxed affair, with the restaurant offering a themed buffet as well as the option to order ala carte. Many diners opt for the buffet – the focus was on Fukuoka and Saga cuisine at the time of our visit – because it represents amazing value for money, with a comprehensive spread of starters, sashimi, dessert as well as made-to-order temaki and a selection of specialty dishes.
Those who prefer ala carte would also be spoilt for choice with the array of Japanese dishes on the menu. The beautifully presented assorted sashimi includes hefty slices of scallop, tuna, salmon, alongside rarer types such as sweet shrimp, geoduck, and sea bream. One of the signature dishes at Imasa is the grilled beef cooked on a hot stone. A plateful of Hida beef is grilled tableside and served with a variety of dipping sauces and some vegetables. The tender, flavourful beef is a reminder of how good ingredients do not require much intervention. These stellar dishes exemplify Imasa’s strength – it purports a timeless approach to food and an honest representation of the cuisine.
An ample selection of Japanese sake, shochu and beer are available at Imasa, served in the usual portions.
From the welcome to the goodbye, the servers at Imasa are warm, attentive and intuitive. The high level of service transports you to Japan, and considering the restaurant’s name emphasises genuine service, it certainly lives up to the name.
Classic interiors, sincere service and delicious food come together at Imasa, at a reasonable price to boot.