Located on the junction of Hollywood Road and Graham Street, it’s hard to miss Sushi Sase, the newest Japanese restaurant in Central. The restaurant takes up the entire corner with its subtle light brown wooden exterior, causing most passerbys to take a second look. Once you enter through the automatic sliding door, the tranquil atmosphere continues. A large sushi bar, seating about 18 diners, takes up centre stage in the main dining room. The room itself is sparse when compared to other Japanese restaurants, with only two or three small tables occupying the rest of the spacious room.
In a city filled with conveyor belt and supermarket sushi, a restaurant that treats sushi with the respect it deserves is a wonderful thing. Sushi Sase is such a restaurant and through the use of the freshest fish and carefully selected garnishes, it is a reminder of just how perfect a simple slice of fish on rice can be, when done well. Although sushi is the restaurant’s primary and best offering, the mini kaiseki meal is a great way of experiencing all the restaurant has to offer. After a simple bowl of green vegetables with sesame dressing, the sashimi arrives. Eight slices of extremely fresh fish include sea urchin, scallop and yellowtail. All the fish are served at perfect room temperature and their natural sweetness means that only the slightest dab of fresh grated wasabi is needed, if at all. A tempura course including long elegant mushrooms and sliced pumpkin follow. For the more adventurous, there are also the more unusual Pacific cod testicles, a mild ball of white cream enveloped in a light batter. It may not sound appealing and it is not commonly seen on menus here; but for those in the know, its appearance is a good sign of an authentic Japanese restaurant. The sushi course consists of six pieces of sushi: as with the sashimi, the sushi chef are so precise with their seasoning that any additional soy sauce is unnecessary. The chef prepares the sushi one piece at a time, sprinkling wonderfully complementary garnishes such as citrus zest or shaved rock salt on top. As you bite into the sushi, the chef watches your face intently to judge how you enjoy his seasoning before preparing the next piece. Even with only six pieces, the course is designed so that you are treated to every taste sensation from the tartness of a lime zest garnish, to a lightly seared piece of smoky kinki before ending with a fish garnished with just a hint of spice, a truly enjoyable experience. For those that are still hungry, a bowl of perfectly chewy Inaniwa udon in a clear yet flavourful broth should do the trick. Otherwise, the matcha ice cream manages to capture both the creaminess of ice cream with the slight bitterness of green tea, a perfect end to a thoughtful meal.
The sake list is not exhaustive, but carefully selected. There are seven types of junmai daiginjyo ranging from HK$780 to HK$4,500 per 720ml and a more affordable range of hunmaiginjyo ranging from HK$340 to HK$630. If you must, there are also three white wines and four red wines available by the glass.
The staff speaks in lowered tones and are knowledgeable, helpful and efficient. The best experience is to be had at the sushi counter where four sushi chefs cater to 18 diners, guaranteeing exceptionally attentive service. Keep in mind that meals here are leisurely, and not suited for an hour-long lunch.
The price of a meal varies greatly. Lunch sets usually provide the best value for money in high-end Japanese restaurants. But even so, at Sushi Sase, the lunch sets range from HK$300 to HK$1,380; significantly more than other sushi restaurants in its category.