Located on the second floor of Henry House, a mecca of Japanese cuisine with restaurants such as Sushi Hiro, Tenjaku and Saboten in the heart of Causeway Bay, Kirala Kitchen is sparsely decorated with lots of light-coloured wood and a long sushi bar. There is a private room but low ceilings can lead to a less than tranquil experience if enclosed with louder diners. There is an outdoor terrace which is not yet furbished, but we were told that it will eventually be converted into an alfresco dining area.
While we found the overall flavours of the food served at Kirala Kitchen enjoyable and delighted in the artistic presentation of the food, we did have a few minor quibbles. Traditionally, the appetisers of a kaiseki meal are presented en masse, allowing all the variety of colours, textures and flavours of the seasonal ingredients to reflect and play off each other. At Kirala Kitchen, the four appetisers are presented course by course, Western-style. The first is a slightly grainy asparagus panna cotta, served in a small amount of flavourful broth and garnished with salmon roe. The second course is a deep-fried fish, again in a thick broth, this time made of egg and tofu. We were given a break from the broths with the third course, a plate of extremely fresh and delicious sashimi that includes one of the largest botan shrimp we have ever seen. But when the fourth course of warm Hokkaido uni with tofu and matcha-flavoured gluten cake arrived in yet another thick broth, we did wonder why there was not the traditional pickled, vinegary dish to give some variety as well as a kick to our palates. For mains, one of us opted for 50g of A3 Miyazaki wagyu while the other ordered a plate of grilled fish. The grilled fish was a particularly tiny main course: consisting of one grilled shrimp, a sashimi-sized piece of white fish, and another tiny piece of cod. While well-cooked, it did seem rather miserly. The wagyu on the other hand, was perfectly portioned. Six small slices of lightly marbled beef with an intense flavour, the wagyu was less smooth and fatty than usual, but nevertheless delicious enough to render the dipping sauce unnecessary. For the starch portion of the meal, we shared a grilled scallop with rice, served in a hot pot (advanced ordering is required) for two. The rice itself is moist and gently comforting, but the sweet scallop is cooked in a bit too much soy sauce, giving the dish a slight Cantonese flavour. We did, however, love the smoky, complex miso soup that came with it. Finally, dessert is a Japanese version of tiramisu with coffee ice, panna cotta and foam on top; plus a light-as-air chocolate cake. While neither are what would entice you to come back to Kirala Kitchen, they are a sweet, gentle end to a mostly satisfying meal.
When ordering a kaiseki meal, there is a special sake pairing menu with special promotion prices offered. The five options include daiginjou, junmai ginjou and junmai daiginjou and range from HK$180 to HK$580 for 720ml. There is also a small, mostly French-based wine list with red wines from Bordeaux, whites from Burgundy and even three champagnes.
The service at Kirala Kitchen is mostly attentive, with the waitress taking care to explain each dish as it arrives and taking into account diners’ preferences (for example with the sashimi course) and communicating them to the chefs. While not exactly intrusive, the service just missed the mark with the servers being a bit too present. A touch more discretion and finesse would elevate it to four-star service.
A nine-course kaiseki meal at dinner is between HK$1,200 to HK$1,500 per person. If you’re unsure, try the six-course version at lunch first, which starts at HK$480 and depending on main courses, will run to about HK$580. All prices quoted are without sake or wine.