Ganguya: Otaku-style izakaya (7.3)

Ganguya literally means “toy store”, and the storefront looks exactly like one, with a life-sized ultraman and lots of anime figurines lining the cupboard on display. But once you open the door, you are led down to a basement restaurant that’s decorated more like a home than an izakaya. The main dining room is centered on a big grilling counter surrounded by baskets of pre-grilled vegetables and raw seafood. Once grilled, the dishes are brought before the diner via a large wooden paddle (for those seated around the counter). If you fancy more privacy or have a bigger party, you could opt for one of the three Japanese-style horigotatsu private rooms in the rear of the restaurant, also decorated in otaku style.

The themed restaurant is hosted by a team of laid-back and friendly staff. Vibes are mostly homey and I felt pretty relaxed. We thought that the hot food we had were all up to standard, keeping in mind that pricing is on the low end. There wasn’t a particularly masterly dish or any attention-seeking ingredient but almost everything we had was more or less consistent and normal, and the menu includes seasonal selections that change regularly. Special dietary requests were also well-respected by the chefs. The selection of alcoholic drinks is pretty extensive and while we didn’t drink on this occasion, I can imagine Ganguya would make a comfortable place to drink the night away. Ventilation was good (no smelly clothes even though we sat by the grill counter).

Food Rundown

Grilled North Kyushu Oyster, $68 each
Big fat oysters there. Sweet with excellent mouthfeel.

Grilled Stuffed Sardine with Mentaiko, $88
This was the most memorable dish of the night. Sardines are a great oily fish to have in autumn when the waters turn cold. There was minimal seasoning as the fish was flavorful enough, while the mentaiko gave it a lovely briny depth.

Grilled Ox Tongue, $72
Quite springy with a rich and meaty flavor. Pretty good.

Grilled Scallop with Black Truffle and Sea Urchin Sauce, $58
Not the best quality scallop and the sauce was also a bit meh. But it was fine.

Grilled Chicken Gizzard, $34 / Grilled Chicken Soft Bone, $28 / Grilled Okra $35 / Grilled Rice Cake with Cheese, $38
All made to a normal standard.

Grilled Rice Ball with Mentaiko, $48
Crunchy outer shell but the rice inside was too soggy.

Edamame, $38
Good. I requested to have this without grilling and it was pre-marinated in any case.

Pickled Burdock, Sea Urchin with Squid, $52
Burdock was fine, but the squid with sea urchin was a bit fishy smelling and we didn’t have it again after one bite.

Yuzu Milk Pudding, $58
Very good. Tasted a bit like a Hong Kong-style mango pomelo sago (without the mango).

G/F, 16 Ngan Mok Street, Tin Hau
$$, Barbecue, Japanes