By Invitation – Thank you Harakan-S for inviting me to this wonderful tasting!
Address: Shop 311, 3/F, Lee Gardens Two, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay 銅鑼灣恩平道28號利園二期3樓311號舖
Telephone: 2882 8616
Tucked away in the sumptuous surroundings of Lee Gardens Two, Harakan-S is a haven which is conveniently located in the heart of bustling Causeway Bay. Harakan-S is a Japanese fine dining restaurant which was re-launched in September 2011 after its extensive refurbishment. Its proprietor is the Sir Hudson International group, which has brought to us many other fine establishments, including an Italian restaurant, Habitu Ristorante the Garden, and the relaxing, idyllic coffee chain, Caffe Habitu.
Even though the Japanese cuisine at Harakan-S is sophisticated and refined, the interior setting is relaxed and unpretentious, and has an airy cream-and-beige tone. With the abundant number of Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong, what sets Harakan-S apart from the others is its healthy and inspiring vegetarian menu, which is a scrumptious alternative to the usual Chinese vegetarian dishes and plain salads. To make things even better, Harakan-S currently has a promotion called “Veggie Wednesdays”, and all the dishes on its vegetarian menu will be at 50% off on Wednesdays.
In addition to its culinary inventions, Harakan-S also serves an extensive selection of sake, shochu, plum wine and Japanese whiskeys, as well as a list of their inventive sake cocktails. You should be expecting a wonderful night of extravagant Japanese cuisine and alcohol!
(1) We started off our meal with this vegetarian Okinawa Barufu Salad ($100). The most special thing about the salad is the seaweed, which has waterdrop-like features on them. All of us tried touching the leaf and expected the droplets to fall off, but surprisingly, they had a jelly-like consistency and delightfully popped in our mouth as we ate them!
(2) We then had a second salad, the Oyster Leave Tofu Salad ($100). The Oyster Leaves are freshly imported from the Netherlands and are known to have an oyster taste to them, as oyster shells are used as their fertiliser, which embeds the flavours of the oysters into the leaves. The Oyster Leaves had a crisp texture and a salty, sea-water taste. For those of you who like oysters’ fresh taste but not its slimy texture, here’s your solution!
(3) Next, we had this plate of indulgent Assorted Sashimi, consisting of Chu-Toro, Botan Shrimp, Scallop, Prime Yellowtail, Salmon, and Thin Slices of Seasonal Fish. The fish was sea-fresh, and what I particularly adored was the citrus home-made yuzu sauce, which had a gel-like consistency and intensified the sashimi’s summery flavours. I ate a bit of the shredded yellow cucumber at the top left corner in the photo below, which was dry and had an interesting woody texture.
(4) After we had finished the sashimi, the chef kindly deep fried the salmon and the shrimp heads for us. These beautifully deep fried dishes were crispy and gratifying, and it was a fantastic idea as we didn’t have to waste any part of the sashimi set at all.
(5) Next, we had 4 pieces of Creative Sushi. The sushi were “creative” as they were drizzled in playful sauces that were hand-prepared by the chef. The sushi on the left was served with a thick red miso sauce which had a mellow but distinctive flavour; the sushi in the middle was topped with a classic Japanese sesame sauce, and the sushi on the right was matched with a slightly salty seaweed sauce.
(6) The makis and rolls were one of my favourite dishes of this meal. Starting with the vegetarian maki, the Black Truffle Vegetable Maki (V) had tofu fillings and was wrapped in rice, and sprinkled with black truffle shavings. It was subtle and simply delightful. On the left was the Okinawa Bitter Gourd Tempura Maki (V). The gourd was crispy and not bitter at all, and the maki was served with an Okinawa Black Sugar sauce which was made by slowly simmering the Okinawa Black Sugar under low heat. I loved the vegetarian makis and am sure that they would equally excite my vegetarian friends!
(9) Moving on to the non-vegetarian sushi, we then had a Wagyu & Sweet Shrimp Roll (right). The roll was wrapped with wagyu beef on the outside which was alluringly fatty, while the sweet shrimp in the middle was soft and tender. The compatibility of these two textures and tastes was heavenly. The classic California roll (left) was freshly prepared before us, and I could never seem to turn down a California roll.
(10) With a full and satisfied stomach, we took a break from solid food with a Vegetarian Seafood Maitake Tea Pot Soup (V) ($80). Maitake is a type of Japanese mushroom (舞茸), and it has a strong, deep flavour. The clear soup was beautifully served in a little tea cup, and was warm and soothing.
(9) Next on our menu was the extravagant Salt Grilled Wagyu A5 steak. The Wagyu steak was splendid, and the fat guiltily melted in the mouth. It was fortunate that the portion was not huge as we could not stop eating and finished all of it!
(10) Nearing the end of our meal, we delved into the Vegetarian shrimp and scallop fried rice (V). The rice was buttery and glutinous, and the veggie seafood had a tantalising peppery taste. The texture of the veggie shrimps and scallops was softer and less firm than the actual seafood, but apart from that, I almost couldn’t tell the difference.
(11) Presented before us were Harakan-S’s signature desserts, Lychee Panna Cotta and Yuzu Crème Brûlée. The Panna Cotta had a tropical, fruity lychee scent, and was more jelly-like and less creamy than an Italian panna cotta. The crème brûlée could have been a little smoother, but it was still tasty and the Yuzu flavour was marvellously refreshing!
Conclusion: What I admired the most was Harakan-S‘s venture into the vegetarian culinary landscape, masterfully combining classic recipes with innovative, contemporary expressions. These delicious, pretty-looking Japanese dishes inspired us and our palates from the beginning of the meal till the end.