All is fresh and light

Before potentially heavy holiday meals, you may need some lighter bites.

At Tsukada Nojo, Japan’s farm-to-table izakaya restaurants in Tsim Sha Tsui and Sha Tin, hand-picked seasonal ingredients from Miyazaki and Kagoshima have spawned the time-limited new menu. Featuring free-range chicken, pork, seafood and eggplant, the menu is enhanced by the restaurant’s philosophy of showcasing the ingredients’ natural flavor.

Kick off the journey to Japan’s farmland with the Kura-Satsuma chicken avocado ham roll (HK$78), a unique interpretation of the classic prosciutto and melon.

The bon bon Miyazaki Jitokko chicken with black garlic oil (HK$88) uses the chicken with a carefully developed flavor that results in a lean-but-not-dry texture. Blending perfectly with the flavorful black garlic oil, the tomato and cucumber salad balances the taste. The Sichuan spicy chicken-style grilled Miyazaki Jitokko chicken (HK$238) is served on a hot stone pan, releasing an aroma containing a hint of Sichuan spices. The Marumi pork bijin shabu shabu (HK$520) is a highlight, serving the Miyazaki highlight Marumi pork presented in its popular style.

Savory treats are perfect after the warm, light hotpot. The team recommends the spicy fried spratelloides (HK$78), firmly packed with umami. It goes well with the alcoholic beverages on the menu.

If you prefer a fine dining experience, the newly opened raw-vegan restaurant Ma in Central is a cool, sleek destination with a lively, classy vibe and healthy, pure dishes.

Fine dining staples are cleverly and colorfully recreated with environmentally-friendly alternatives, such as the chiaviar, beetroot carpaccio and faux-gras pate. Giant Portobello mushrooms smothered in cashew truffle sauce form nourishing burgers (HK$250), and zoodles (zucchini noodles) are enriched with tantalizing sauces ranging from tomato, caper and black olive to pesto, pine nut and arugula (HK$198). The cooked dishes, such as the orange and fennel soup (HK$150) and the grilled king oyster scallop (HK$250), are deliciously wholesome.

The guiltless pleasures extend to gluten-free desserts. The classic tiramisu (HK$95) is a light, frothy coffee, chocolate and vanilla concoction, while low-carb ketogenic flour fuels tempting tortes of chocolate, matcha or yuzu. The cheesecakes, made with fermented nut cheese, are zesty when infused with passion fruit or lychee rose (HK$75) or spicy when laced with frankincense (HK$85).

Meanwhile, Soil to Soul at K11 Musea in Tsim Sha Tsui offers a Korean vegan festive set menu (HK$998) from December 16 to 31. “Our basic philosophy is that all preparation steps are in line with nature,” said chef Gu Jin Kwang. “From growing and gathering to preparation, most ingredients are either farmed or foraged from nature, as a festive, environmentally-friendly Christmas present to the world.”

Starters including the Korean ginseng and chestnut soup and the tofu & potato croquette, give warmth for the winter. The asparagus kimchi and the restaurant’s most famous dish, the sweet & spicy mushrooms, are lightly battered and fried with a tangy, mildly spicy kick.

Four main courses continue the temple food concept of eating sufficiently without over-indulging to avoid waste. They include the Korean radish dumpling, a new creation for winter with radish at its finest; a blessed tofu skin pocket stuffed with sweet potato noodles; and napa cabbage, styled after a fortune bag.

The zucchini noodle is served with an umami house-made fermented soy sauce and Korean sesame oil. Last but not least is the veggie rice, completing with a festive interpretation of petit fours and specialty herbal tea.

(This article was published at The Standard on December 4, 2020: Weekend Glitz: All is fresh and light )

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