Address: 151 Hollywood Rd., Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Telephone: 3151 7771
I have been to grastropubs before, but this was my first time going to a Japanese gastropub. Young restaurateur John Liang (owner of Gyotaku) does Japanese restaurants with flair, and his second venture, Three Monkeys, opposite Classified on Hollywood Road, is a hip and trendy space for Hong Kong’s hungry souls. “Three Monkeys” is a reference to John and his two friends who are co-owning the restaurant, and this place has only had its grand opening on 15 January 2013!
This place serves high-quality yakitori (i.e. skewers), with a touch of extravagance – wagyu beef, foie gras and uni are liberally strewn over the pub’s dishes. There are many new gourmet restaurants with a no-reservations policy popping up in Hong Kong lately, and my friends have been saying that they would rather pay more for their meals in order to avoid having to either eat at 6pm or wait for 2 hours for a table. Three Monkeys caters for this need and reservations can be made, but be prepared for the bill – a meal, with a drink or two for each person, will set you back at least $700 per head.
(1) There are a lot of enticing sakes on the menu, but I decided to go for a cocktail, and John recommended Sakura ($85), made with Sake, Awamori, Cranberry Juice and Lime Juice. It was a pink, sweet and easy drink.
(2) My friend, B, ordered Umeshu Sour ($85), which was made with Shochu, Umeshu, Egg White and Lemon Juice. Apparently it was bacon-infused too, just to make it extra tasty (and extra heart attack-inducing)!
(3) We started off with a “Monkey Pouch” ($88), which was deep fried Fresh Tofu Skin filled with Crab Meat, Water Chestnut and Maitake Mushroom. The tofu skin was thin and crunchy, and the fillings were fresh and supple. It was just the type of moreish appetiser we needed.
(4) Our next dish was a Foie Gras Tofu Toast ($78). The foie gras was alluringly soft and delicious, and the tempura fried tofu seemed ethereal in comparison with the heavy foie gras – a commendable combination.
(5) This Tomato Bacon ($28) deserved a mention – anything with bacon in it is bound to be tasty, but what distinguished this yakitori from the rest was the cherry tomato, which was grilled until soft and runny on the inside. As you bit into it, the tomato juices bursted out deliciously, so do be careful!
(6) The Chicken & Egg ($38) was simple and adorable. The minced chicken was juicy and nicely grilled, and the egg yolk added extra richness to the dish. Do ask for another egg yolk if you love dipping meats in eggs as much as I do!
(7) I liked the lovely, chewy texture of the grilled Ox Tongue ($54), and Three Monkeys has added their own touch to this classic dish by letting you dip it in a bit of whole grain mustard, and it worked wonderfully!
(8) Being the health-conscious (well, sort of) people we were, of course we had to order some veggies. We order grilled Corn ($35), grilled Asparagus ($24) and grilled Portobello with Katsu Flakes & Soy ($30). The Portobello was incredibly juicy, and the Katsu Flakes & Soy added a sweet, refreshing note. The grilled corn and asparagus, on the other hand, were not that special.
(9) Moving on, we tried the Kurobuta Belly ($28). The grilled pork belly was a bit too tough, but the magnificent taste made up for it. The delicious pork belly was complemented by a sweet-and-sour sauce and sprinkled with Shiso Leaves. The shiso leaves tasted refreshing and completely cut through the fattiness of the pork belly; it’s all in the details!
(10) We also tried the Belly Wraps ($168), and the large, green Romaine lettuce created a bit of a wow-factor when this dish arrived. The grilled pork belly tasted good, and the mellow sesame sauce and the crisp lettuce matched with it very well.
(12) We ordered some Lobster Steamed Egg Custard ($88), and the strong scent of black truffle clouded our table when we opened the lid. The lobsters were fresh and firm, and taste-wise this was faultless – our only complaint was that the egg custard had too much water in it.
(13) This was the impressive-looking Tora Ebi ($240) – Tiger Prawn, topped with Uni & Egg Yolk Paste. The tiger prawns were juicy and tasted sea-fresh, but the uni & egg yolk paste had been prepared with mayonnaise and the distinctive taste of mayonnaise slightly overwhelmed the uni and the egg yolk.
(14) Last but not least, the Obaasan’s Wagyu Stew ($118) is one of the most popular items at the restaurant. Comprised of slow cooked Wagyu brisket and foie gras, this dish was truly decadent. The beef tendon, in particular, had been thoroughly cooked and was incredibly smooth, and John jokingly said that their beef tendons could rival those at famous beef brisket restaurants in Hong Kong!
Conclusion: This new gastropub on Hollywood Road is no monkey business. The prices may be steep, but the trendy ambience, good-looking staff (my friend, who couldn’t help ogling the waiters all night, forced me to mention this in my review) and the alluring yakitori will surely keep you coming back.