G/F, 3 Thomson Road, Wanchai
This Japanese crab restaurant, situated on a quiet corner on Thomson Road, offers something few restaurants in Hong Kong can; a gustatory journey singling out three exceptionally sweet crab species flown in fresh from Japan, without letting you leave until you realise absolutely the true meaning of gastronomic hedonism. Ceasing our hunger may have been a priority at the start of that night – a state that must first and foremost be satisfied, I do not argue there. However, after a course of sweet and succulent grilled King Taraba crab legs with Kani-su, or crab vinegar, and a third course of crispy tempura claws and a Matcha (green tea) salt, and a shabu shabu set featuring various joints of the crab to be plunged into a hot ponzu-like bath, finally to end the crab “nose-to-tail” eating with a fifth course of crab roe rice.. well, the state of being full was almost a non sequitur. The biological urge to nourish ourselves was quickly passed over and replaced, almost just as naturally, by a decadently bent motivation to pleasure our palates with crab, crab and more crab.
Kanizen keeps one eye on the traditional, and the other eye on the future – but both are on the culinary ball. A first impression of the front exterior – defined, clean lines, dark woods and elegant block signage with no windows – admittedly, all seems rather solemn. And then, one press of a button outside slides the large wooden panel back, revealing a foyer featuring a concrete pool of fresh Japanese crab varieties – Matsuba, Taraba, Kegari; what was once solemn now becomes decor meticulousness exuding sexiness via seafood. Another automated wooden panel opens to the main dining section, with a U-shaped bar for crepuscular foodies like Andrew and I to sit and be allured by all manners of crustacean temptations. We went for Mr. Big: the King crab, or Taraba (鱈場蟹).
2/F, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wanchai
Since we couldn’t wait another six months to fine dine, the boyfriend and I went to the Grand Hyatt Steakhouse to cheers to our half year anniversary (when I was in Hong Kong). Anyone who knows me knows how terrible I usually am with relationships, which is why I preferred to shy away from them for the last two years. But I suppose what applies to food can also apply to men: if you already have a quality ingredient, then you don’t need to work too hard to make your dish perfect. Aww yeah.
The setting/atmosphere is very ‘Boardwalk Empire’ cool; dim-lighting, plush leather chairs, dark ominous colours, dark wood panelling, little statues in little corners that you see in the corner of your eye. This is a manly man’s club, fully decked out with a cigar room too near the exits. The booth style tables are actually near to the buffet table (you can opt for a seasonal buffet) but the floors in that part of the restaurant are wood planks, and the noise is less appealing than in the carpeted area on the other side. Which is where we were sitting. Which was nice. Because you know all that new couples want to do on a date is whisper sweet nothings to each other in peace.
Then the menu. First thing I noticed about the menu was how simple it was. I love this! I hate menus that beat around the bush and don’t actually tell me anything about anything I want to know, or worse still: when they give names to dishes that mean absolutely nothing to me, like “Mom’s Pie” or “Stacy’s Gumbo” – What did your Mom put in her fucking pie? Who is Stacy and was she or was she not familiar with Creole cuisine? There’s always a backstory. Allow this backstory, your food should be a story in itself. Let it speak for itself! Let it scream on the plate, not from your paper, fool!
The GHS went straight to the point – “PAN FRIED DIVER SCALLOPS – TOMATO AND BACON SALSA”. Boom. The server actually asked us after we made our order whether we were hungry enough for all the items. Little did she know what we were capable of….