Sushi Takenori: Beware (6.8)

This is by far the worst sushi experience for as long as I can remember. For loyals of Sushi Kohaku, do not fall into the trap.

Sushi Takenori contacted Sushi Kohaku’s old customers (of which I am one) to offer them 20% off until the end of June (Sushi Kohaku is the old sushiya of the same location). We thought Sushi Kohaku was one of the best sushi places in Hong Kong not only because Chiba-san is amazing, but because a 10-piece $880 lunch set means that the fish pieces are at least one notch above those in the $500 range. So seeing that the menu and prices have remained exactly the same, I enquired about whether Takenori was still run by the same corporation behind Kohaku, and the restaurant affirmed. We decided to give Takenori a try, then, because why not. It might well be just okay, which would be fine for one visit, but we didn’t want to risk missing out a great new place.

But it was not okay. And for a host of reasons.

Let’s start with the chef, Takenori-san. We discovered about three courses into our meal that about eight out of ten of his fingernails were encircled in dirt (or some other unseemly black thing), which completely put us off. It is a sushiya, and I thought it was completely disrespectful for a chef to be serving raw food with hands that look unclean. Frankly, it was gross, although I tried to ignore that and focus on my food.

About the food, apart from some first-class wasabi, half of the items we were served today were a miss. While ishigakidai (石垣鯛, spotted knifejaw) was quite a decent piece, everything else either missed the mark or were quite unmemorable, especially in light of the fact that we expected a better meal than the usual $500 lunch omakase meals. Take, for example, the maguro-zuke (marinated tuna), where the balance was off and the fish was rendered overly salty. Nodoguro (blackthroat seaperch) was also a bit less fresh than we had hoped. The sushi rice looked like akashari, but was not mild and deep flavored enough. The acidity was too sharp for a good balance with the neta.

And what about all the non-fish seafood? Are they all out of season in June?

There seemed to be some attempt to be innovative or different, say, serving raw eggplant as one of the sushi items and a miso soup that was way too sour, or wasabi ice cream, or a steamed egg with no treasures inside. Whether customers appreciate the innovation might be down to personal preferences, but after our meal we spoke to another Kohaku regular who went to Sushi Takenori. The verdict is unanimous: there is no next time.

I might also mention that the miso soup that was on the way to our table was spilled from a great height, with the hot soup splashing everywhere. Nobody seemed to have bothered to clean up the spilled soup. I guess these individual events are all tolerable and understandable, but when they come in a package of all negatives, it is a sure sign of amateurism. And amateur food is the only thing we do not tolerate in this context.

Hospitality from the servers was mostly excellent, but on this occasion that was not enough to salvage the experience.

The lunch omakase with ten pieces of sushi is at $880+10%.

Sushi Takenori
UG/F, Malahon Centre, 10-12 Stanley Street, Central
$$$, Japanese