Black Sheep has always been one of my favorite F&B brands because their hospitality is just so over and beyond the typical standard that you get anywhere in the city. Granted, sometimes their hosts are way too attentive and chit-chatty that it seems to overwhelm locals who are, well, culturally less adapted to this genre of overt hospitality. But as the Chinese saying goes, more is better than less when it comes to good gestures, as nobody would blame you for giving too much.
Hospitality is not the only thing that stands out. Black Sheep does source some of the best quality produce. While I might not be confident about a chain running an authentic sushiya, I thought an experienced team could probably create a more than decent teppanyaki experience, which at its heart is more of a cosmopolitan nature anyway.
So here I was, finally paying this place a visit. The interior décor is sleek and the vibe is a bit LA-like with straightforward splendor. The lavish purple carpets and golden suède-looking chairs certainly spell exuberance, but there was still an element of Japanese given away more subtly–whether it’s the chopsticks, the tableware, the oriental bathroom wallpaper, or the selection of Japanese whiskeys on display. To some extent the place did resemble some of the teppanyaki restaurants in Kobe that we have been to, which we truly appreciated, as we could pretend that we weren’t in Hong Kong whilst travel restrictions are still on (let’s use some imagination). Kobe was also where the first teppanyaki restaurant officially opened just after WWII ended (not that the teppan wasn’t invented earlier).
The place wasn’t filled on our visit, and the restaurant was strikingly overstaffed. I suspect this could be to do with a combination of the restaurant being still relatively new, quieter lunches on weekends in Central in general, as well as a worsening situation on covid. We were off to a slow start where nothing happened for virtually ten minutes after our orders were lodged (which got us a bit concerned as we had to hurry back to office after lunch). But when I enquired about the situation, things got moving and we were soon taken on a lovely journey to Kobe for a brief hour by Takano-san, our chef, who delivered with grace and flair and took good care of us during our time with him.
In general we were impressed by the theatrics and the food that was all made to a superb standard for the price. If you could have Takano-san prepare your meal, you’d certainly enjoy his performance. The rest of the hosting team was also attentive, though operations are still not as smooth as could be. I imagine this will get better with time and we certainly plan to return.
Oh, and don’t forget to see the whiskey lounge that’s behind the teppan stalls after your meal. You might even meet a magician there.
We simply went by the Executive Lunch set today: that was Australian Wagyu Ribeye for my partner ($588, 150g) and US Prime Tenderloin for me ($488, 180g). The serving sizes were just perfect for us. In addition to steak, the set includes a mizuna salad, grilled vegetables, an impressively sweet fresh tomato from southern Shikoku, garlic fried rice, pickles, miso soup, and either a dessert or green tea to end.
This was sweet and less peppery/ bitter as mizuna is in season now.
Tokushima Fruit Tomato
Grown with minimal water, these would be some of the sweetest and firmest tomatoes you can find. The goodness of tomato are all packed in a small volume for maximum flavor. Restaurants need a memorable dish to keep guests returning, and I think this might just be it.
Grilled Seasonal Vegetables
Good. Just slightly on the greasy side for me but teppanyaki is going to be generally heavier than your average meal anyway.
US Prime Tenderloin, 180g
Tenderloins tend to lack a bit of a flavor compared with cuts of the rib-eye, and one would be well advised to pair it with some sauce or horseradish (wasabi in this case), plus a crunchy garlic flake or two, but here it was wonderful just on its own. You could try it with the condiments for some variety.
Australian Wagyu Ribeye, 150g
A bit less tender but you get more depth of flavor in return. Again, a great cut. Nicely and beautifully done. Perfect serving size.
Garlic Fried Rice
This was arguably even better than the steak itself. The edges from the steak that might usually go to waste are fried to dark brown and become little flavor bombs. You can also top the rice with any remaining garlic flakes for some crunch.
If you like pickles, this would be nice to have on the side.
White Peach Sorbet / Green Tea
Sorbet was fine. The green tea was not a generic one but a slightly better version made from matcha powder. It was a good end to the meal and I enjoyed it. But I do think that diners would appreciate a coffee option, and that shouldn’t go against the theme anyway as most teppanyaki restaurants I’ve been to in Kobe do offer coffee
Crown Super Deluxe
Mezzanine floor, LKF Tower, Hong Kong
$$$, Japanese, Steakhouse