I recently asked a friend, who lived for several years in Tokyo, what her favorite Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong is – and Beco was her answer. Never one to ignore a good recommendation, I booked a table there as soon an an opportunity arose. She then very sweetly sent me a list of things to eat, “in order of importance” 🙂
Short rib yakitori
Beco Pork Miso Soup
Liver yakitori (for the liver lovers)
Opened in 2011, a collaboration between Sushi Kuu chef Satoru Mukogawa and On Lot 10’s David Lai, Kushiyaki Beco is located along one of the stairway streets off Hollywood Road, where La Cabane Cellar is. It’s a small, cozy eaterie reminiscent of the tiny yakitori restaurants in Shinjuku. With just 20 seats on the ground level and around the same upstairs, it’s casual and quite unassuming, as some of my favorite restaurants tend to be. I saw Quail Egg Skewers on the Specials board, and I knew we were onto a good start.
I was wondering what the name meant, and found out that kushiyaki means ‘grilled skewer”. I asked myself, doesn’t yakitori mean then same thing? Here’s what Wikipedia says:
Yakitori (焼き鳥, やきとり, ヤキトリ?), grilled chicken, is commonly a Japanese type of skewered chicken. The term “yakitori” can also refer to skewered food in general. Kushiyaki (skewer grilled), is a formal term that encompasses both poultry and non-poultry items, skewered and grilled. Both yakitori and kushiyaki mean the same, so the terms are used interchangeably in Japanese society.
You learn something new every day!
Another new discovery that evening was that of yuzukosho (yuzu paste), simply the most bad-ass crazy-awesome sauce out there. It’s a fermented paste made out of yuzu orange peel, chilis and salt. The type of yusukosho depends on the the colour of the chili used – bright green for green chilies, and orange-y red with red chilies.
The taste and mouth-feel of this paste is quite extraordinary. At first taste it is salty, but then your tongue is tricked into thinking it’s more bitter than salty, due to the yuzu peel. Then the chili kicks in, not a kill-your-palate burn, but a warm, subtle numbing heat. Forget wasabi, I am now going to be using yuzukosho with everything! Want to know more? Check it out here.
At Beco, yuzukosho was served with the short-rib skewers and ox tongue skewers. The short-rib is beautifully tender and incredibly tasty, and whilst the ox tongue had a nice texture, it wasn’t as flavourful as I would have hoped.
The grilled tofu ‘steaks’ were smeared with a yuzu jam and topped with pine nuts and red pepper threads, served atop a piece of lettuce for easier transfer from plate to mouth. Again, I was a big fan of the yuzu jam, but the tofu wasn’t seasoned enough for me, and it was a bit bland.
The butter-yaki scallops were lovely and tender, but the star of this dish is really the mushroom and spinach garnish sitting in the bottom of the shell, which had soaked up all that butterrific goodness! Oh what I would have given for a piece of bread or rice to soak that up with. The beef croquette was also amazing, but you’ll just have to imagine it as I forgot to take a photo, d’oh! Served as one large croquette around the size of an iPhone, it’s nice for sharing but a tad on the oily side. Don’t let that stop you from ordering it however, because it was a great dish – crispy, creamy and meaty all in one!
The asparagus were … asparagus. Nothing special here.
Goya, or bitter melon, is a popular vegetable in Okinawa which is very high in Vitamin C and is thought to be one of the reasons why Okinawan people live so long! This was one of the best dishes of the evening – the melon is (not surprisingly) very bitter, but it grows on you after a while. Together with the egg, tofu and fatty pork slices, it really hit the flavour spot, and not a morsel was left on the plate.
This dish was not that impressive, and I’ve had much better versions of it. Still, Beco manager Edward was very kind to do the mixing for us, and is a very pleasant fella! And plus, by this point we were already progressively jolly from the Sapporos ‘n Sake, so we really didn’t mind!
There’s not much in the way of dessert, just either Yuzu Sorbet (they love that stuff here!) or Rice Ice Cream. Whilst the sorbet was very refreshing in a crushed-ice way, the rice ice cream was creamy but quite light as far as ice creams go, with little bits of rice at the bottom for added texture.
The total came to $1640 for the four of us, including 7 bottled Sapporo beers (HK$48) and a 300ml bottle of sake (HK$180). HK$410 per person was pretty decent for the amount of food and drinks we had.
I highly recommend that you check it out. It’s open until 11.30pm daily, and is just as good for a beer and some snacks as it is for a full dinner – I’ll have to go again because I completely forgot to order the quail eggs! I’m not saying that there weren’t some misses, or that it’s the best yakitori joint in town, as I really wouldn’t know – but it’s not just the food that’s nice about this place. With its friendly atmosphere and after a few sakes and perhaps a beer or two, it’s just the place you want to be on a Friday night with a few of good mates, good food and lots of laughs.
♥♥♥ Itadakimasu! ♥♥♥
Address: 2 Shin Hing Street. (Technically, it’s in Sheung Wan, but it’s so close to Lyndhurst Terrace that I would consider it still in Soho)
Tel: +852 2581 1282