Hong Kongers’ appetite for Japanese cuisine will never be satiated, evident in the number of restaurants that continue to flood the market — from traditional sushi-ya and izakaya places to ramen joints. At Honjo, the menu is an exciting and eclectic display of modern Japanese cuisine reimagined with dynamic flavours.
An Intriguing Concept Behind the Décor
While Japanese restaurants are often associated with spaces that are minimalist almost to a fault, Honjo is quite the opposite. Designed by veteran in Hong Kong’s F&B scene, Ben McCarthy, to give diners a bit of a different experience, you’re transported on an adventurous journey through a Japanese dreamer’s fantasy!
Taking inspiration from small Tokyo style houses, the entryway welcomes diners to their bar area and Tin Toy lobby. Step next into the Safari Room with hanging African face masks and a huge communal table where the dreamer would love to host friends and families in his idealistic travel mindset. As the dreamer wishes to share his culture with guests, meander into the Red Armoury and Blue Suite dining room adorned with samurai swords and Japanese sports armoury.
Tasty Apps and Drinks
Just like its décor, the food at Honjo is a gastronomic treat for the senses; there’s a Japanese influence in either the seasonality of the ingredient, cooking technique or preparation. While sipping on a beautifully concocted mocktail like the co-matchy (HKD70) or cocktail like the T & Nori (HKD120), munch heartily on their deboned chicken wings (HKD100). They are tender and juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Here, Karaage is adopted — a style of Japanese cooking that involves deep frying breaded pieces of chicken, alongside Okinawa black sugar, garlic and fresh chilli. Another tasty snack that goes amazingly well as a side dish is their chilled spinach, a variant on the Japanese classic Goma-ae as there’s the addition of mustard sauce in this one (HKD80).
Cameras at the Ready: Instagram-Worthy Appetisers
If you’re fans of the Indian pani puri and Peruvian salmon ceviche, you’ve definitely got to try Honjo’s rendition – a tapioca puff stuffed with salmon bits, yuzu-koshu and garnished with purple shiso (HKD130). You will be pleasantly surprised by the presentation and explosion of flavours that create a medley of textures spanning crisp and crunchy to smooth and creamy as soon you bite into it.
If it’s a more traditional Japanese taste profile you seek, the mouth-watering otoro — a popular cut of blue fin tuna — seasoned with Thai basil, red onion and yuzu soy will hit the right spot (HKD180). This is a superb umami combination of fatty, buttery otoro complemented by a range of zesty, tart and herbaceous flavours. We particularly enjoyed the addition of the bubu arare — teeny-tiny baked glutinous rice crackers — for their crunchy textural element.
Only the Freshest Japanese Ingredients Make the Cut
The Honjo tempura selection is a different story (HKD 240). Wrapped in a light crisp batter and served with a selection of interesting condiments (including a salt flight featuring matcha salt, wasabi salt and pink salt), this is where the chef’s creativity really comes into its own! We totally relished the brocollini with truffle soy and, of course, the juicy black tiger prawns alongside the sweet potato and onion.
However, the perfect representation of Honjo’s commitment to delivering dynamic flavours is their sashimi platter with freshly sliced pieces of scallops, hamachi, salmon and tuna nestled across a bed of ice in a stone bowl (HKD270).
The team at Honjo has perfected the art of giving comfort foods a luxe touch, evidenced by the baby chicken & rice (HKD260). The real attention grabber is when the waiter cuts open the chicken and reveals the steamingly hot sushi rice that comprises mushrooms, pancetta and hazelnut in ginger roast sauce. With every mouthful laced with a hint of smokiness, we loved the chef’s use of sushi rice to make a very Mediterranean dish closer to a Japanese style!
When Impeccable Service Collides with Amazing Desserts
With such amazing food pairings and attentive service by the staff at Honjo, we were transported to a food coma, for which they had a cure for too! Kikusaki Umeshu from Nagano is a flavoured plum sake to make room for their desserts.
If you’re a green tea lover, go for the matcha lava dessert served with a soba (Japanese buckwheat) cracker and vanilla ice-cream on the side (HKD130). We loved the chef’s playful take on combining matcha with white chocolate for a bittersweet dessert, where every luscious bite made us crave more.
Another drool-worthy dessert is their kuromitsu cheesecake with pineapple cinnamon sorbet (HKD110). Kuromitsu is a Japanese sugar syrup that’s infused to the almost molten cheesecake filling. The buttery crust was textbook perfect, while the sorbet was refreshing!
Every detail here is designed for maximum visual impact. The flattering, atmospheric lighting, the beautiful music and elements of surprise in their modern Japanese dishes all add to the allure of this space.
Honjo; 77-91 Queen’s Road West, 1/F, Sheung Wan; +852 2663 3772