Located in Parekh House opposite the former police station on Wyndham Street, Xuan Sushi is centrally located. Stepping into the tranquil dining room, the first thing that strikes you is the amount of unused space, which is unusual in itself and doubly appreciated in a district where tables are usually jam-packed to squeeze the maximum amount of customers in. Four sushi chefs toil behind the main sushi counter, which guarantees an efficient and personalised experience as the counter only seats about a dozen customers. Wooden floors, soft lighting and jazz completes the ambient atmosphere.
As the name suggests, Xuan Sushi serves a tightly focused menu of mainly raw fish, with only a smattering of tempura and grilled fish. What is impressive is that if you ask the waitstaff for the fish that arrived that day, they are likely to reel off a list of nearly 10 items, essentially doubling the number of choices on the printed menu. Like a lot of the higher-end sushi restaurants, Xuan Sushi serves sushi piece by piece, and also already dabbed with an appropriate sauce so that dipping the fish into your own soy sauce is unnecessary. And while we appreciate this attention to detail, on the whole, Xuan Sushi can be heavy-handed with its sauces, which is a shame as the fish is undeniably fresh. One fish that particularly stands out is the seasonal saury, which comes garnished with impeccably small pieces of chive that complements the almost obscene fattiness of the fish nicely. Another example where the garnishes work well is the marinated mackarel, or shime saba. The mackarel is actually a bit too cured and tart for our tastes, but thankfully it comes with a thin sheet of shiro ita kombu wrapped around it, a type of marinated seaweed which provides a hint of sweetness as well as a good contrast in texture. There were a few instances where the chef left the fish alone, for example the extremely large botan shrimp and the Hokkaido sea urchin, both of which benefit from the lack of tampering as they are sweet and delicious enough already. Not all the sushi was as successful: the salmon roe is already extremely salty on its own, and with the added soy sauce slicked on top, it was almost inedibly so. Another disappointment is the sea eel, which comes so dried and thin that no amount of sauce could save it. To finish, opt for either the fresh seasonal Japanese fruits, or one of the more unusual ice cream flavours such as sea salt.
There are eight types of sake listed, all of which are available in a small 230ml size, or the larger 720ml or 1.8l version. There are also shochu, plum wine and two types of Japanese beers (Yebisu and Kirin), while for those wanting to bring their own, corkage ranges from HK$150 for a 720ml of wine or sake and HK$300 for brandy and whisky.
Thanks to the high chef to customer ratio, service at the sushi bar is impeccable with the chefs leaning down to explain each piece of fish handed to you. However, even if seated away from the sushi counter, the well-trained waitresses will make sure you are in good hands.
Dinner for two will come to just over HK$1,100. Naturally, this depends on the type of fish ordered but most range from HK$40-HK$60 per piece, with premium options going up to HK$100. This is not too expensive considering the location of the restaurant, as well as the freshness and variety of fish available.