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This discreet Sheung Wan sushi bar near the tail end of Hollywood Road is the closest one gets to an immaculately choreographed Ginza omakase experience in Hong Kong. The counter is made of lustrous Yoshino cypress from Nara, the sake is served in custom-ordered Edo Kiriko faceted glass cups, and the exquisite food is served on stoically unglazed Bizen ware crafted by famed potter Kyo Isezaki. Fabric tea coasters and serviettes also change with the season, just like the jet-fresh seafood.
Going well beyond play-it-safe salmon, the expertly timed rhythm of the omakase course flows like a well practiced tea ceremony. Starting with the lightest sashimi and proceeding on to heavier, oily fish, it’s a session of performance art by the lively executive chef Masaki Saito and his smart team of itamae maestros. Punctuating the meal are innovative palate cleaners and hot dishes that reveal Ginza Onodera’s distinct style and aesthetics, such as an unctuous cube of monkfish liver simmered in red wine. Highlights include an impressive giant Hokkaido kegani hairy crab shown to guests in its wriggly glory, whisked away to be steamed; returning to the counter to be dismantled with meticulous surgical precision by chef Saito and his team. A bowlful of this shredded crabmeat is mixed with the kegani crab’s creamy tomalley, placed in a beautiful ceramic container as a course together with another dish of simmered abalone, plus a smaller bowl of grilled green gingko nuts. Moving on to nigiri, a firm botan prawn pressed on rice is brushed with soy and topped with its own crisp jade-like roe, while the sweetness of bafun uni (sea urchin) on a ball of rice is brought out fleetingly with a dash of sea salt.
The wine list isn’t weak, with old and new world wines, including Grand Crus and Champagnes, but take advantage of their iPad sake menu which feature detailed descriptions and tasting notes of a wide variety of sake from different regions of Japan, from boutique labels to astronomical premium brews.
Onodera’s motto “from Ginza to the World” aims to replicate the high-end sushi bar experience, and that extends to the high Japanese level of omotenashi service from both the sushi chefs as well as the wait staff.
Only omakase set courses ranging from HK$1,380 to HK$2,500 are offered, but splurging for that level of seafood mastery will bring no regret for sushi aficionados. Lunch sets start from HK$280 and up.