“A culinary journey from Tokyo to Saigon” is the latest restaurant spin to hit Hong Kong, running throughout March at both Viet Kitchen in Central and Shiki Zen in Causeway Bay. Culinary mash ups and chef bromances are great, if the food delivers. Here it does, and then some. I’ve been a fan of Peter Cuong Franklin’s food since Chom Chom and he has crafted some standout dishes alongside chef Norihisa Maeda of Shiki Zen, the Japanese Udon & Washoku Specialists.
The schtick is clear. Take Vietnamese and Japanese ingredients, combine and see what works. Maybe I’m biased, as Vietnam and Japan are already my two favourite countries to visit in Asia, while the quality of their cuisines hardly needs to convince. But the results are sensational.
Hot Saigon Style Beef Udon ($168) brings the perfect consistency of homemade udon, pho beef broth, A5 Wagyu beef, onsen egg, bean sprouts, leek, shiso, basil and cilantro. Now $168 is a chunk of change for some pho, but this ain’t your mama’s pho. This is the pho of your dreams.
Until you try the Hanoi Style Chicken Udon ($138). With these ingredients, how can it be anything other than sensational? Pho chicken broth, poached chicken, bean sprouts, leek, mint, coriander, yuzu, kaffir lime over more homemade udon.
I’ll shortly be sharing an epic feature I wrote for Destinasian magazine on Vietnamese cuisine, the key line of which is: “Vietnamese cuisine is all about five tastes, senses and textures in every single dish.” These two bowls of pho deliver this – but with the added layer of premium Japanese produce and flavour profiles.
It’s difficult to screw things up when A5 Wagyu is on the menu, but here one of the world’s great products is treated with the respect and nuance it deserves. Somehow the carpaccio’s dressing of shallot oil sauce, basil, shiso, lemongrass, peanuts and egg actually enhances the flavour and texture of this rare treat. Heap it onto sesame rice crackers for the ultimate mouthful.
If it sounds like I’m waxing lyrical, it’s only because the hits kept coming, nowhere more so than the final dish of Caramel Miso Black Cod ($198). Nobu’s black cod needs no introduction since becoming one of the restaurant world’s most renowned dishes back in the 90’s. Here the cod is rendered beautifully, aquatic crack cocaine thanks to that caramel fish sauce, the 48 hours marinating in miso, garlic, shallots and ginger. Wow. Trust me, this is one of those dishes that will not disappoint in any way.
The menu is also available in March at: Viet Kitchen, G04 and 06 Nexxus Building, 41 Connaught Road, Central: Tel: +852 2806 2068