Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ronin (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Hong Kong has always got a reputation as a city with a complicated dining scene. We don't need to look too far to discover all these fine dining restaurants which are places to see and to be seen in the city. Then there are these upscale but low profile places which are intentionally made to be very private and hard to find. Ronin is obviously the latter.

Hidden behind the grey-colored sliding door is Ronin, a 20-seat Japanese influenced izakaya on On Wo Lane in Sheung Wan. It's yet another wonderful concept brought to us by Matt Abergel who also owns Yardbird.

Ronin has slowly gained the reputation as an excellent speakeasy Japanese tapas bar over the years. Of course, a wide selection of wine and sake is crucial to the making of a speakeasy bar. Look at all these different labels here, brilliant!

I really like the way they designed this tiny space. Every inch of space was used to perfection. See how I managed to find just enough space for my cola. That's beautiful.

Ronin's food menu is a fish oriented one that changes daily based on what's available from the market. They also have a market tasting menu reasonably priced at $980 for anyone interested in sampling a bit more variety.

Before I start placing my order, here comes a small amuse bouche of broccolini with ginger and dashi to kick off my evening. That was pretty refreshing.

Shima aji (striped jack) sashimi ($70) - Pretty thick slices. Love the firm texture and rich flavor. They have ice on the bottom to keep the temperature right too. Very thoughtful.

Hamachi yellowtail sashimi, shitake, mizuna, negi soy ($180) - A lot of reviews on Ronin touched on their tiny portions so I was pleasantly surprised when my plate of hamachi sashimi showed up.

I thought this dish could easily accommodate two people but I was more than happy to take on it on my own. The hamachi yellowtail sashimi was nicely flavored with negi soy combining well with the shitake mushrooms, diced mizuna and garden green. Very nice.

Black pilsner battered, smoked amadai tilefish, black sugar kewpie ($170) - I was really tempted to go for their Kagoshima beef with sukiyaki egg yolk, one of the few non-fish items on the menu but since it's served as a carpaccio, I decided to pass in favor of some cooked food to wrap up this meal. I ended up getting their black pilsner battered amadai tilefish instead.

This was the chef's modern take on the British classic Fish and Chips. I love that tiny and crispy batter lightly flavored with black pilsner beer. Interestingly, the dish was paired with a small glass of black pilsner.

The amadai tilefish was really meaty and it was exceptionally tasty under that golden brown colored, pilsner flavored batter. I thought the black sugar kewpie (Japanese style mayo) was a pretty nice touch too.

I'm not sure about Ronin being the 45th best restaurant in Asia yet (according to the folks behind Asia Best 50 Restaurant, they are!) but one thing was certain, I would definitely be back for more pretty soon.

Food Rating: 6.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 8 On Wo Lane, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Sheung Wan
Tel: +852 2547-5263
S. Pellegrino Asia's 50 Best Restaurants: 45th (2017)

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