Sen Ryo: Fresh Sashimi, Unbeatable Prices

What do I do if I’m craving some sashimi but I don’t want to pay through the teeth? Why, go to Sen Ryo of course!

There are a few places here in Hong Kong that serve sashimi at unbelievable prices. When I was in high school, we would catch the bus down to Causeway Bay and grab a seat next to the conveyor belt at Genki Sushi, Sen Ryo’s cheaper sister restaurant. Sushi One is Causeway Bay was also a favorite for a short period of time after it first opened, but when the sashimi quality started getting noticeably worse, it spelled the end of my custom there.

Thank goodness my sushi spending is no longer limited to a pocket-money budget, and Genki Sushi is a thing of the past. Whilst Sushi Shin and Sushi Kuu are my favorites, if I’m in the mood for a sashimi super feast, Sen Ryo is it – with it’s fresh seafood, consistent quality and crazily unbeatable prices. For fresh fish that is imported from Japan, you’re not going to get better than this – eat to your hearts content, until you are close to bursting, and you will still only pay around $150-$200 per person.

A loaded conveyor belt

A loaded conveyor belt

During the main dining hours, the sushi belt is loaded with colourful plates of different choices from the menu. If you’re short on time, then this is the way to go, but I prefer to order fresh from the menu. The menu is extensive, featuring sushi, sashimi, hand rolls, salads, grilled and cooked items and desserts. Check out their full menu and prices here on their website.

Sen Ryo unfortunately doesn’t take bookings, so if you are going for lunch, unless you show up at 12pm or even 11.45am to be sure, you will wait 45 minutes to an hour for your table, especially if you have a party larger than 4.

If you become a Sen-Ryo Member, you can join the online queue for your restaurant of choice via their app to save time. Simply ask for a points card at one of their outlets and spend $1200 within two months (very easily done).

Here are some of my favorites …

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Oyster craving? Check out Edo & Bibo

I write this after another wonderful date night with PB. I’m going to Sydney tonight and we really enjoyed the time to re-group and enjoy each others company before I head off for 5 days. So, I may approach the review of this restaurant in a slightly biased fashion, because above all, the company is what makes the experience truly enjoyable. We really did enjoy our meal at Edo & Bibo, if you’re on a date then the counter seats are perfect for a tête-à-tête, and larger groups are also very easily accommodated. It was certainly a good sign that on a Thursday night, there was not an empty table in sight.

The bread basket

The bread basket

We were the only ones on the counter, which was set up for groups of two. From here, you can see all the action, from the oyster shucking to the salad mixing and even the tartare making. PB had already ordered the wine by the time I’d arrived, and when I asked him what he thought of the selection, I got a shoulder shrug in response – he was not very inspired it seems. He did pick a nice Chablis however, which went well with the oysters. If you’d like to BYO, corkage is HK$150 a bottle.

The bread selection was nicely presented, but not very good quality at all – the baguette was toughly chewy (now that’s an oxymoron!). Oh well, we’re not there for the bread.

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A great deal for a quality selection of oysters

We were there, however, for the OYSTERS! If you are an oyster lover too, make sure you get to the restaurant before 9pm, or you might find the selection severely diminished. The oysters are delivered fresh daily, and E&B is one of four establishments in the same building (all opened by ET Troop) that serves these oysters. Certainly by the end of our meal, there was scant choice left on the ice.

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A wide choice of French oyster selections, not just your usual fine de claire.

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Some oysters I’d never heard of…

The Gillardeau oysters are produced by a small farm owned by the Gillardeau family, which produces only spéciales – a fleshier and thus more expensive oyster. Theirs is a very interesting story, which you might like to read about in this New York Times article.

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And a selection of international oysters..

That day, the oysters included in the buy one get one free oyster promotion were Pacific Rock, Irish Gigas, Fine de Claire, Osole, and Tsarskaya. Not being a huge fan of Pacific Rock oysters (those things are massive – I always feel like gagging when I eat them), we chose the other four plus two of the Gillardeau spéciales.

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The oysters on display in all their glory!

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Our oyster selection, clockwise from the bottom: Irish Gigas, Osole (Korea), Fine de Claire (France), Tsarskaya (France), Gillardeau (France)

We were in for a treat! I have read some mixed reviews of Edo & Bibo (Janice @ E*ting the World was certainly not impressed), but I for one was very pleasantly surprised by the variety, freshness and taste on offer here. The oysters were expertly shucked, and each one seemed to retain the flavour of the water from whence they came. I am a regular customer at Oyster Station in SoHo, and I must say that the oysters at E&B certainly are served with more care.

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Cocktail Sauce and Red Wine Vinegar

A scrumptious cocktail sauce is served, chunkier than most and although it is most likely made with canned tomatoes, it tastes fresh. The red wine vinegar is is dark and seems almost to have a condensed vinegary-ness – a little goes a long way.

We started with the Irish Gigas (HK$58 for two), which were less creamy than I remember them being, in a good way. Perhaps it was due to the fact that they were served quite cold so it made the creaminess more bearable.

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Korean Osole HK$ 59 for two

This is the first time I’ve heard about Korean oysters, let alone eaten one. The Osole were meatier, the water saltier, but for some reason, not our cup of tea at all. I can’t put my finger exactly on it, but the Osole  somehow lacked the refined taste of the other oysters.

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Fine de Claire HK$68 for two

Fine de Claires are always smaller, more crisp, and somehow more savory, and always yummy. They are fine in every definition of the word.

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French Tsarskaya

From Brittany, the Tsarskaya oyster is meant to be more creamy with woody accents, apparently. I say that because it’s the first time I’ve tried them. They are longer in shape, and these ones had a bit too much membrane for me. They were a bit on the skinny side too – the Kate Moss of our oyster selection.

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French Gillardeau HK$68 each

These babies were beautiful, and the all-around favourite. Big, but not to meaty and not too creamy, delicately flavoured with a beautiful briny taste – just perfect really. Too bad they weren’t part of the two for one offer because I could have had a whole plate of them.

Just as quickly as it had started, our oyster round was over (boo). We moved on to our second round of starters, the first we chose from their “Chef Specials”: Edo & Bibo Signature Caesar Salad with Apple Wood Smoked Bacon and Fresh Graded Parmeson (sic)”. As far as Caesar Salads go, it was definitely one of the better ones – crisp Romaine lettuce, a nice tangy creamy dressing. Using the dressing as a plate garnish was somehow lost on us, and there was not enough of that (very nice) bacon. It also rained Parmesan onto our plates when we picked up each leaf – but I love that stuff.

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Signature Caesar Salad HK$108

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Tai Hang Eats: Katte Shabu Shabu

It’s starting to get HOT ‘n SUNNY, Hong Kong! Could this mean the first scorching Rugby 7’s weekend that we’ve seen in a few years (fingers crossed)? One can hope … still, you may have a week or two to sneak in some tummy-warming shabu shabu sessions before the real heat comes. We paid our first visit to Katte Shabu Shabu a couple of weekends ago with our foodie friends and sat at the 8 person counter table. Each setting is complete with your own electric hot plate which heats your individual hot pot – a nice touch! It was better to not have to share, and a smaller and shallower bowl means you can keep better track of what goes into your pot.

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We all started off with a chilled glass of Hitachino Nest White Ale, a superbly refreshing and surprisingly tasty beer with hints of orange! I’m not a huge beer drinker but am always up for a Japanese brew, as I find they tend to be more delicately flavoured. You can find the beers at several restaurants around town, and if you’re a real enthusiast, you can place an order with their Hong Kong distributor GoTech Limited, and have it delivered straight to your front door! All information is available on their very well designed (and dare I say cute) website.

 

hitachino nest beer

The menu is designed so that you order a Shabu Shabu Dinner Set each. Some of us went for the Deluxe Set, which features A5 Kyushu Beef Sirloin/Ribeye in 80g (HK$380) or 150g (HK$600) portions. Others opted for the Seafood Set: oyster, prawn and 200g of horsehair crab for HK$480. The menu states that the Seafood Set has to be ordered 12 hours in advance (!!), but we didn’t have an issue. I unfortunately didn’t take a picture of it, but it was a very generous plate of quality fresh seafood, and each set comes with assorted raw vegetables, noodles, soup and a dessert.

The Japanese take their beef very seriously such that some beef connoisseurs might even be able to differentiate the type of animal and the terroir which it was reared on! Let’s get our terminology straight here – the term ‘wagyu’ refers literally to ‘Japanese cows’. Within the wagyu umbrella are several breeds of cattle, which are often referred to in name by the prefecture that produced them. There are a few different types of cattle that are reared on the island of Kyushu, and it wasn’t specified which one we were eating at Katte.

‘A5’ refers to the Japanese Wagyu Beef Grading classification, A5 being the best standard of beef that you can get your hands on! The grading is determined by the yield grade A-C and quality (referring to marbling) grade 1-5 of the beef. Here’s more information if you’re interested!

If you want to know more, Asia Tatler has written a great article about Wagyu Beef.

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A large portion of vegetables, making this quite a healthy meal!

Some of us chose the Red Snapper broth, whilst others chose the Sukiyaki broth. The Red Snapper broth was milky white in colour and quite mild in taste in the beginning, but never have I drank so much broth at the end of my meal! Once we had our full and the dipping subsided, the broth had absorbed all the flavour of the veggies, beef and seafood such that it’s taste is so wonderful that you can’t stop dunking your spoon. The Sukiyaki broth was also surprisingly nice, not too sweet and actually preferable for dipping the pork slices and seafood. If two of you are dining together, I would suggest getting one of each broth and trying them both.

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From the Dinner Set: Clam Soup

The clam soup almost too delicately flavoured. It was a nice way to warm up the stomach before starting with the shabu shabu, but other than that, nothing to write home about. And giving you one clam is a bit stingy!!

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The $600 set comes with 5-6 slices of A5 Kyushu beef

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The $380 Deluxe Set comes with 3 slices of A5 Kyushu beef

I didn’t want to be limited to just eating beef or seafood, so I decided to take the smaller beef set, and for the same price as the larger set, I ordered a selection of other things from the hot pot and kushiyaki menus. Having reviewed the photos afterwards, my beef looked much more marbled then the other beef – why the discrepancy I wonder?

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From the Hot Pot Menu: Japanese Pork Slices HK$150

The Japanese pork slices were very flavourful and although a bit chewy, they were excellent dipped in the Sukiyaki broth!

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From the Hot Pot menu: Scallops HK$60

These scallops are humongous! I feel that scallops really shine the most when they are grilled, and it was almost a waste to dip them in a hot pot. Nevertheless, they were nice and meaty, and a generous portion for $60.

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From the Kushiyaki menu: Grilled Ox Tongue with Salt HK$46 per skewer

The Ox Tongue was really well seasoned and whilst one or two of the pieces were a bit chewy, the rest was nice and tender and definitely up there as one of the better Ox Tongue kushiyaki that I have tried. Definitely better than the ones at Kushiyaki Beco, though not as amazing as the ones at 3 Monkeys.

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A Dim Sum Compendium

I recently read an article about a book called “The Paradox of Choice – why more is less”. Being quite an indecisive person when it comes to consumerism, I can relate to the authors premise that whilst choice is good for us, we are presented with too much choice nowadays. It can be psychologically disadvantageous and ultimately, makes us more unhappy. And so, faced with all of this choice, many of us do the simplest thing – choose the same option over and over, because we know it, because we’re comfortable with it.  While this is all a bit too serious as an introduction to dim sum, the logic is quite the same.  There are many choices in this city for Dim Sum – which one should we choose?

I have a long list of Dim Sum restaurants in my phonebook, a Dim Sum Compendium, if you will. Some are the good old favorites, some are the easier option, some take that extra effort to get there but are worth it, and some are on my “To Eat” list. All are worth trying – why choose, when you can have them all? Continue reading

Dragon King Restaurant

When faced with the task of booking a dim sum restaurant for a group yum cha session on the weekends, Dragon King is always one of the first choices on my list of places to call. Trouble is, it is more often than not fully booked. And so as a preface to this blog post, if you like the look and sound of Dragon King, go ahead and call to make a booking now. It’s Friday, and you just might be able to get a table for this weekend.

Food quality aside, there are several simple logistical reasons why Dragon King is one of my favorites.

1. It’s conveniently located in the World Trade Center, and if you’re driving there’s always space to park. While Causeway Bay traffic might be a bit of a pain, I feel it’s worth it.

2. They have a huge selection of dim sum choices that appeal to both local and foreign tastes.

3. Their menu is very concise, even listing the number of pieces in each serving. When ordering for a large group of people, it’s very helpful.

4. Whilst I’ve read in other blogs that service is dire here, I have always found service to be very friendly and efficient.

5. Try to book a table by the window. It’s got a great view of the harbour and the yachts moored out front, great for if you are entertaining out of town guests.

Deep-fried bean cubes with sesame $38 – this is the dish they do best! ♥♥♥♥♥

Pan-fried rice rolls in XO Sesame $43 – while they could do with adding more XO sauce, the flavours are there, and they’re generous with the bean sprouts.

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Sushi Shin – Omakase

 

After an almost month-long hiatus, I wanted to write something before y’all forget about me! Sitting here in my New York City hotel room, there is so much to write about – all of the restaurants I visited in London at the beginning for the month for one, and all the ones I will visit in the US of A after that. But I’m going to start with baby steps, and make a special mention of the superb Japanese restaurant that P and I went to in Hong Kong last weekend, at the recommendation of a friend who used to live in Tokyo – AL knows his sushi!

If you haven’t been to Sushi Shin, take a trip down foodie lane and check out this superb establishment in Tin Hau – I’ve been reading so much about all of the great restaurants popping up in the area, but this is the first (of many) that I’ve checked out.