The entrance to Kaiko is not promising, nor particularly easy to find. The elevator to the restaurant is tucked away in a corner of World Trade Centre and diners must get off at the fifth floor and head towards Hooray. To the left of Hooray’s entrance, climb up the staircase that will lead you directly to Kaiko’s bathrooms. Only after you walk past the bathrooms will you find the entrance of the teppanyaki restaurant. The main dining room is dominated by two teppanyaki bars: this is where the best seats in the house are located, so be sure to request them when making your booking. Kaiko is simply furnished with light coloured wood and grey seating, leaving the spotlight on the teppanyaki chefs plying their trade, with Causeway Bay’s harbour front clearly visible from the massive windows behind them.
There is no doubt that the ingredients used at Kaiko are of top quality, with US prime fillet, Australian M8 wagyu, Japanese choshu chicken and abalone on the menu. Which is a shame then, that more often than not, the chefs verge on the heavy-handed in their seasoning, masking the delicious flavours of all this wonderful produce. At first this is not obvious, as we start with thick, generous portions of fresh salmon and yellowtail sashimi. We get a hint of what is to come when a perfectly cooked grilled cod appears. The cod is succulent and flakes apart at the touch of a chopstick but it accompanied by sautéed onions and a buttery sauce, which is just a touch too rich for the fish. The oyster that comes next has the same problem: the oyster again is perfectly cooked, retaining a bit of rawness in the middle. But it is garnished with deep-fried garlic and soy sauce, which obscures the natural briny taste of the oyster. Beef is the focus of most teppanyaki meals and for this meal, we chose to try the M8 wagyu rib-eye from Australia. The beef itself is disappointingly leaner than expected, but the strong flavour will satisfy any carnivore. The dish comes with mushrooms and broccoli, but be sure to eat them only after eating the beef, as they are aggressively seasoned with black pepper, which can leave the tongue a bit too numb to properly relish the meat. The set menus come with both fried rice and noodles, which are both good but not memorable. The meal is completed with a “surprise” dessert, which on the night we visited was tiramisu. This non-Japanese treat was possibly the most disappointing dish of the night, with a crumbly topping that feels stale and cream that is much too heavy.
The sake selection at Kaiko is wide, with bottles available in three sizes (300ml, 720 ml or 1.8 litres). The sakes come from all over Japan, including Hokkaido, Tochigi, Kyoto and Miyagi. Non-sake drinkers can choose from four different plum wines, as well as a 12-year Suntory malt whisky or beer.
The chefs behind the teppan grill are friendly and will often offer unsolicited bits of advice or knowledge about a certain ingredient or sauce that he is using, making the experience a pleasantly interactive one. What could be improved, however, is the timing of the dishes, which was very rushed. We were only halfway through our cod before the oyster appeared, getting cold while we hurriedly finished the fish. As we finished our nine-course meal in a record hour and fifteen minutes, we couldn’t help but wish we had been allowed more time to savour and enjoy our experience.
The quality of the produce used at Kaiko is high and the views of the harbour are gorgeous, therefore it’s no surprise that Kaiko is not cheap, with multi-course set menus ranging from HK$630 to HK$1,180. As with all high-end Japanese restaurants, lunch sets are much better value for money, with nine different set lunch menus ranging from HK$168 to HK$580.