If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Sadly Japanese newcomer Kushi One may have missed this old adage, at least when it comes to the grill.
Situated on Fenwick Street, the menu doesn’t lack choice. There’s yakitori, tempura, udon and an array of sushi and sashimi. The grill section features about 20 a la carte items and four mix-and-match platters.
And it’s the grilling that aims to be top draw. Each table has an electric burner and a vent that looks like it could beam you up at any moment. The venue lauds their grilling technique, the “Kushi One Paper Grill”, alleging it “enhances the juiciness of the meat tissues to maintain the freshness of the food.”
The dining room is broken into nooks and crannies, reminiscent of a funhouse maze, jade green with a bamboo vibe. A sushi bar that seats about ten occupies the back wall. An inviting lounge off to the side is open until 2am, no doubt trying to grab some of the late night Wan Chai crowd.
On a recent night we decided to order a bit of a grab bag. The first dish up was a promotional item: a salad consisting of tofu, black truffle, a lightly poached Japanese egg, iceberg lettuce and a white sesame dressing ($68). It would be best to no longer promote this item. While plenty large for the price, it wasn’t long before it became a soggy mess. If truffle was present we didn’t taste it, and I like to think of myself as a porcine truffle hunter. The egg was perfectly cooked but was lost in the absurd amount of dressing and watery lettuce beneath it. The tofu simply had no chance to shine. What should have been a delicate dish was instead heavy-handed.
We were curious to see this new grilling concept. Gamma rays? Fire-breathing dragon? But next they brought the sashimi platter for two ($180). Two pieces each of tuna, salmon, hamachi, scallop, and lovely sweet shrimp with the head on. No complaints here. Each piece was firm and had a clean distinct flavour, the scallops being the standout with their rich and buttery flavour. Sucking the brine from the shrimp heads was a pleasure as well.
The salmon with lamb roll ($78) was less successful, showing that eclecticism doesn’t always breed success. The lamb filling the roll was gummy and indistinct. The salmon was fine but was sabotaged by an overpowering dollop of grainy mustard on top, an idea that was probably better in theory than in execution.
Finally it was time to get our grill on. A big round pan filled with what looked like large flattened coffee filters was placed on the electric burner. The waitress reached under the table and ignited the burner with the flip of a switch. Alas, we weren’t going to be reinventing the grill. Basically the paper withstands high heat and doesn’t require oil. Less smoke is given off. This was the extent of the concept. Nice if you don’t want to reek of meat at the club after dinner but the difference to the cooking process was negligible.
We ordered the US prime boneless short rib ($140), Spanish black pork chop ($150), and the Hokkaido jumbo scallops ($68). You simply set the meat on the paper and before long, it’s sizzling. Sauce is provided on the side. Cooked medium rare, the beef tasted like beef, no more, no less. You replace the paper before grilling the next item, which is useful as flavours don’t get muddled. Once again the scallops were the highlight, needing only a quick sear. The pork was sliced thin and when charred with sea salt was similar to a nice rasher of streaky bacon.
While the menu has plenty for everyone it’s hard not to feel the grilling is a bit of a gimmick. Healthier? Maybe. Less smoke? Yes. Worth opening a whole restaurant concept over? We’ll see. Last time I checked no one complained walking out of a Korean barbecue.
Flat/Rm 1-3, UG/F, East Town Bldg, 16 Fenwick St, Wan Chai, 2423 7555. Mon-Sun noon-3pm & 6pm-midnight. Bar 5pm-2am.
Vegetable appetizer $15
Assorted sashimi $180
Salmon with lamb roll $78
Black truffle salad $68
Spanish black pork chop $150
US Prime boneless short rib $140
Hokkaido jumbo scallops $68
10 per cent service charge $69.90
|Venue name:||Kushi One (Closed)|
Flat/Rm 1-3, UG/F, East Town Bldg, 16 Fenwick St, Wan Chai