Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong

Zawazawa shows some Zest

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Ahhh I’m back, it’s been a long couple of months since I last blogged anything or updated the blog, and I know I’m terribly behind, so please bear with me while I update the blog over the next week or so with my reviews for Sassy! If you have been reading the same stuff over and over, massive apologies, and if you’ve been visiting the blog hoping to see something new, again, apologies (SORRY!) and many thanks for the support  🙂 If you’ve not read this review I did on Robata Zawazawa, I hope you enjoy. You can also read it here.

At the time of writing, Japan was dealing with the aftermath of the tsunami with immense courage, so it was fitting that I was reviewing a new Japanese Robatayaki Grill in Lan Kwai Fong, whose chef and staff showed me such wonderful hospitality and demonstrated that same indomitable spirit, which was and is helping them through this time.

Robata grills are relatively new on the Hong Kong scene, but joining Zuma and Roka is Robata Zawazawa, a funky, compact, 10-seat bar and restaurant. Opening just last month and currently offering dinner only, this Edo style establishment has successfully recreated the intimacy of many Japanese eateries which can seat barely a dozen people at a time. With an almost hidden entrance (I nearly walked straight past it and thought I had gone into someone’s house when I first went in), the venue overlooks Lan Kwai Fong and has a little terrace on which customers can sip cocktails.

I was told that the decor was created by Shigeru Sato, a well respected interior designer who was responsible for the design of the Tokyo restaurant, Gonpachi Nishi Azabu, that motivated Quentin Tarantino to reproduce it on the Kill Bill set. Very cool stuff. Beautiful red Washi paper lamps adorn the entrance, and the open-fire Robata grill surrounded by a natural wood bar-top acts as centre-piece, as diners are enclosed by walls by grey stone and paneling.Chef Daisuke Nakano, hailing from the Fukuoka region, whips up a storm in the kitchen and at the grill, producing some truly delightful traditional Japanese fare.

To start, I had the delightful Hasu-imo green salad with Tosa vinegar dressing. Hasu imo is a seasonal (March to June) vegetable similar to cucumber that is native to Japan. It was so refreshing and light, and cleansed the palate before the rest of the dishes.I’ve rarely come across swordfish skewers, so when I spied this on the menu, I knew I had to try. The best swordfish I ever had was in Seville, Spain, in this grubby, middle-of-nowhere café 15 years ago, so I was keen to have this distant memory of a dish long ago digested, replaced by a more recent taste. The swordfish was marinated with sansyo spice, sake and soya-sauce and was sublime. Juicy, tender and rich, the flavours harmonized together wonderfully and the buttery creaminess of the swordfish was not suppressed.Another dish I was excited about was the Seared Foie Gras and Dashi fish stock with stewed Daikon Radish. The foie gras was excellent, delicate yet full-bodied, the radish and fish stock balancing out the heaviness of the liver.I was also treated to beef tongue- grilled to perfection and amazingly succulent and tender and Syu-Ichi beef (a “Royal breed” of beef) skewers, which had a more subtle, refined taste than normal Wagyu and were delicious.

A signature dish at Zawazawa is the Buta-ume Shiso pork, plum paste and shiso basil skewers. The taste can only be described as an aromatherapy in my mouth, the basil and plum paste were so fragrant; an unusual yet fantastic medley of ingredients.Chef Nakano’s signature udon noodles (limited availability daily) are handmade and flown in from Fukuoka. I had the Tanuki Udon Hot soup which was sublime. I could have bowls of this udon soup- the noodles were thick and just al dente with a wonderful chewy texture and the soup base was  bursting with flavour.During my feast, the director Kenji Sato, who also happens to be a dab hand at cocktails, was getting me merrily sloshed on 3 of their signature cocktails. I had the Japa-Jan, made from sake and yuzu- tart but sweet, the Haku- bai cocktail, made from their home-made plum paste, which was delectable and had a very natural plum flavour and the Shiso basil mojito, made from sake instead of rum. I couldn’t decide which one I loved more, it’s a close call between the Haku-bai and the Japa-Jan, but will definitely be going back for more!To end off a really fun afternoon of chatting to Kenji, scoffing my face and watching Chef Nakano lovingly prepare each dish, I had the Houji-cha pudding with Kuro mitsu honey and PON rice pop. Houji cha is a roasted green tea, and the pudding is made by infusing the tea with milk and waiting for it to set. The pudding is gorgeous and if you have a really sweet tooth, you may choose to add the honey, but not too much or you’ll get cavities! The rice pops were a delightful accompaniment, and I happily poured the rice pops into my pudding bowl and scraped off every last bit.If you want a relaxed evening with a friend and want to watch the world go by on the streets of LKF below, then Robata Zawazawa is the perfect place.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

Robata Zawazawa, LG/F, 41 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 2536 9898 www.zawazawa.com.hk

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Author: chopstixfix

Michelle Ng is a Brit born Chinese-Malaysian who has loved food since time immemorial. She is a firm believer in "Live to Eat, not Eat to Live".

3 thoughts on “Zawazawa shows some Zest

  1. hello! I had dinner at this tiny restuaurant and had a lovely time. The food were authentic (believe me, I am Japanese…). well, authenticity doesn’t always count but still important… Loveed the Foir Gras and Daikon dish and also i was lucky to have super-tender TORO sashimi (it costed 240HKD for well, about 6 slices…such a luxurious fish!) and it was worth trying (and the price.)!
    Will check your blog reguraly so looking forward to the new post! Cheers!

    • Hi Mari! Thanks for reading the blog, so glad you enjoyed Zawazawa! I adored the foie gras and daikon too 🙂 Happy eating in HK, hope you’ve been trying out some of the other new places that have popped up!

  2. Oh, love this blog. I like to try all!

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