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When booking your table at Inagiku Grande, a Japanese restaurant located inside the Royal Garden Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui East, you might be asked which table you prefer. Those choosing to indulge in teppanyaki and tempura might prefer the action-packed teppanyaki or tempura counter, but those wearing more scent-absorbing clothing would be well-advised to choose the more sedate sushi counter or even the main dining room. The restaurant is dimly lit, and the tables well-spaced apart, making it not a bad choice for a romantic evening out.
As the layout of the restaurant suggests, there is a wide variety of choice about which type of Japanese cuisine you would most like to indulge in. We chose to go across the board. We start with a cold dish: a sea urchin and some julienned cucumber atop a icy cube of tofu. This is served with some grated ginger, finely sliced spring onion and seaweed. Soy sauce is also served on the side. We enjoy the DIY element of the dish, as it allows the rich and creamy sea urchin plus the delicate tofu to shine without fear of drowning it other flavours, unless so desired. Our only qualm is with the cherry tomato garnish, which jars slightly. Next up is some seasonal saury sashimi: this is fatty, fresh and generously portioned: a must-order when coming in late summer and autumn. Served table-side next is the sukiyaki: when ordering, you can choose between US beef or Japanese. Naturally, we opted for the more marbled Japanese variety and it was a good choice. The flavours of the sukiyaki are slowly and meticulously layered by the expert staff, and first the beef is served with some leeks and a mushroom; then a generous amount of vegetables including more delectable mushrooms; and then a final slice of beef. It’s a decadent feast all on its own. Just to make sure we have tried all the best the restaurant has to offer, we order a Japanese shrimp from the tempura counter: while perfectly decent, it had to feel like a bit of a let-down after the sukiyaki stole the spotlight.
The sake menu is extremely detailed, with everything from the founding dates of breweries to the number of bottles produced per year. For those less familiar with sake, there are also tasting notes such as which ones have a fruitier aroma, and which have a stronger taste of rice. Aside from sake, there is also umeshu and shochu, as well as a small amount of European wine.
The service at Inagiku Grande is solid. The staff are well-versed on the menu and more than happy to help. The table-side cooking of the sukiyaki also required experience and skill, both of which our waiter had plenty of. If by chance you happen to notice your sake glass is empty before a member of staff, they would have most likely galloped over by the time you reach for the bottle yourself.
A meal for two, including a small 300ml bottle of sake, came to about HK$3,300. The Japanese beef in the sukiyaki is undoubtedly the priciest item and responsible for driving up the final amount, but it is worth every cent.