The food and beverage industry has been hit particularly hard by the global pandemic, and those that are surviving have been creative with their offerings to keep their businesses afloat. One positive thing that came out of all this is that the culinary industry has fostered a wider sense of community, and there has been a lot of collaborations coming out of the woodwork. This month, Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood Izakaya, Okra Hong Kong, is collaborating with Japanese whisky bar Mizunara: The Library, for a limited edition cocktail and otoshi (small bites) experience ($350) at Okra's upstairs omakase counter.
The collaboration aims to bring back the experience of dining out, and enjoying freshly made cocktails and delicious meals provided by warm and professional service. Bars have been shut since July 15, and bars without catering licenses are not allowed to open pending further developments in the city. "We truly appreciate this opportunity to collaborate in these severe times," shares Mizunara's head mixologist Masahiko Endo. "It has been difficult for us, just like for everyone else in the industry and the world," explains Okra’s chef Max Levy. "We've been lucky to have the support of our regular customers, many new ones and the 'World's 50 Best' community," he adds. "Mizunara has been one of my favourite cocktail bars in Hong Kong since moving here," says chef Levy. "Besides the Fukuoka connection that Masahiko and I share, the low key vibes and technical approach in cocktails at Mizunara is parallel to our approach towards food and sake at Okra."
Roasted dashi bacon
The otoshi and cocktail pairing menu will include three tapas – black sugar smoked bacon served with pickled lotus root, edamame renkon katsu (breaded deep-fried lotus root slices with fresh edamame paste filling), and eggplant nanbanzuke (Okra's signature vegan version of the classic Japanese marinated fried fish). The menu is inspired by the dishes that chef Max ate at different shochu bars in Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Nagasaki while backpacking in Kyushu 15 years ago. The hors d'oeuvres will be served together with Mizunara's roasted tea cooler made with Mugi Shochu, hojicha, sugar, Fernet-Branca, and pilsner beer topped with a sprinkle of matcha powder.
Guests can also order from Okra's a-la-carte menu alongside some specials from the eatery's smoker like the overnight roasted yuzu shichimi chicken dry-aged for over a week, and thick-cut roasted dashi bacon (pork marinated and smoked over cherry blossom wood for two days and then dried for 10 days). Mizunara is also preparing five signature cocktails that include Southern Shower ($150), Earl Grey Manhattan ($160), and Umeshi Manhattan ($150), along with some secret whisky offerings.
Reserve seats for the cocktail-bento experience via email at email@example.com or message via Whatsapp at 2806 1038. The pop-up is available now until the end of September but it might extend until bars reopen.