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From the bustling ground floor of The One in Tsim Sha Tsui you wouldn’t expect to be transported into a serene dining environment. Stepping off the lift, one might be disoriented as the doors open facing a different restaurant, noisy and open. Walk left down the hall, turning a corner, and you’ll be faced with blond wood interiors reminiscent of a modern Kyoto ryokan but with exceptionally high ceilings and a view of the Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island, completing the backdrop. A teppanyaki grill table is set to the side with various other tables intimately spaced with large screens providing privacy. Get a peek of the evening light show if you’re there at the right time.
While the restaurant’s name and concept suggests Kyoto cuisine, it would be more accurate to say that it is “Kyoto style.” The menu consists of sushi and sashimi, a lengthy grilled section, tempura, steamed, and teppanyaki – almost every cooking method in Japanese cuisine. The Kyoto bean curd in hot pot arrived in an impressive hinoki wood box. Opening the steaming box reveals several exceptionally smooth, and rich cubes of fresh tofu floating in a pleasing transparent dashi broth. The dipping sauce and spicy shaved radish condiment isn’t necessary if you enjoy pure, clean flavours. The most anticipated dish of the night was the charcoal-grilled Japanese Kinki fish, a rare and prized deep-fish known as much for its rich, sweet and oily flesh as for its hefty price. Arriving beautifully fragrant and hot, the fish quickly revealed an undercooked interior. Still holding its raw fishy scent, the flesh under the collar was pink with slight traces of blood. This was especially disappointing as it would have been a delight to savour the fish with the incredible ponzu vinegar dipping sauce provided. There are many ways to interpret sea urchin fried rice but the one ending the meal was prepared on the teppan grill. While the rice was aromatic and each granule maintained its texture and individual bite, the Hokkaido sea urchin was hopelessly lost and overcooked next to the fried egg bits. Although faint traces of sea urchin could be tasted occasionally, the dish would have been more successful and affordable as a simple egg fried rice.
The wine menu is almost entirely sake with some shochu, beer and wine options. The sake section is helpfully divided into four types based on flavour: light, fragrant, rich and matured. Sake by the glass isn’t available, with 300ml as the smallest option. This is a small bottle, yielding about three to four glasses of sake per person, enough for two people.
Service is friendly and efficient, although at times it felt as if there were too many servers hovering near the table. When the undercooked Kinki fish was mentioned to the staff, they acknowledged the mistake and apologised, offering complimentary dessert as compensation.
Dinner for two is about HK$2,400; most of which goes to the rare, jet-fresh ingredients and harbour view.