Rating: ★★★☆☆

Address: 11/F, 11 Stanley Street, Central 中環士丹利街11號11樓

Telephone: 2811 5611 

一碗一串 (Donka)  是在士丹利街11號的中日式創作料理餐廳。雖然服務員態度並不友善,但餐廳的生拆蟹肉皇油煮手打稻庭烏冬味道鮮甜,爽口彈牙,因此我不時都會光顧。

Located in the restaurant-filled building on 11 Stanley Street,  Donka is an eatery that serves contemporary Japanese and Chinese fusion cuisine. This tiny space fits no more than 40 diners, and the setting is clean and minimalistic, with wooden tables and a semi-open kitchen which resembles those at cha chaan tengs.  

Just like its neighbours within the same building (e.g. VeggieSF (Hong Kong)), turnover during lunch hour is quick, and our food arrived within minutes. The lunch menu is limited but enticing, with many creative contemporary dishes to excite and surprise its customers. A typical lunch set costs around $120-$150, which is reasonable for a restaurant in Central. However, the service left a lot to be desired: Donka is a restaurant, not a cha chaan teng, but there is not much difference in terms of service between the two.

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(1) The Inaniwa udon with crab meat & meat ($128) is the crowning glory of the restaurant. Inaniwa udon is a type of udon from the Akita Prefecture (秋田県). It is famous for its exquisite smoothness and tends to be a bit flatter than the other types of udon. Donka pride themselves in their handmade Inaniwa udon imported from Japan. The udon was fabulously springy and bouncy, and the crab sauce was rich and flavourful. I admired the restaurant’s honesty in naming this dish “udon with crab meant & meat” (as opposed to just “crab meat”), as the thinly shredded crabmeat was mixed with some pork. A bottle of dark vinegar, which had an alluring sweetness, was perfectly complementary with the vibrant crab flavours. 

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(2) A few items on the menu would be changed every month, and the Pan-fried green onion, Angus Beef a slice, Spa-egg with rice in bowl ($128) was one of them. The Angus beef was packed with delicious meaty flavours, and the Japanese rice had a gorgeous, glutinous consistency. The “spa-egg” is more commonly known as hot spring egg, and the key to these eggs is the cooking process – traditionally slow-cooked in water in hot springs, the egg would be partially solidified and still be beautifully tender. However, this spa-egg was undercooked and was almost completely runny. 

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(3) The Donka’s style shredded chicken in shaoxing rice sauce ($98) is more of a Chinese dish than a Chinese Japanese fusion one. The thinly shredded chicken was bathed in a shaoxing wine sauce which had a refined alcoholic fragrance. I wished there was a bit more chicken, but other than that the taste was faultless. It was a pity that the vegetables on the side were a tad bland and were an unequal partner to the outstanding chicken.

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(4) The Tomato soup Inaniwa udon with fried egg & meat ($98) was invigorating, and the natural sweetness of tomatoes shone through. If you don’t eat crabs but would still like to try the startlingly springy udon at this restaurant, instead of ordering the crab meat udon, you could go for this dish. There are four choices for the portion of meat that you can order on the side: (i) Pork-tenderloin cutlet, (ii) Honey grilled chicken, (iii) Grilled Beef and (iv) Fish fillet.

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The honey grilled chicken had a delightfully crispy skin, but the meat could have been more tender. With the restaurant’s small kitchen and the speed at which it had to churn out dishes, it is understandable that some dishes had to be microwaved. However, it was slightly disappointing that the chicken had not been microwaved long enough! This chicken was only lukewarm when it arrived, and this happened at more than one of my visits to this restaurant.

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(5) Just like the crab udon which had a distinctive crab flavour, the taste of shrimps was also perceptible in this Fresh shrimp soup & 5 colour vegetables with rice in bowl ($98). The hot and flavourful broth was soaked up by the soft, plump rice, and it was very satisfying to eat. I also liked how there were lots of vegetables in the soup; the grilled vegetables were a tad oily, but they were delicious.

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We ordered a portion of grilled beef to go with the rice, and it had a fabulously fatty taste. Unfortunately, just like the chicken, the beef was under-microwaved and was still partially cold.

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(6) Each lunch set comes with a coffee or tea. The hot milk tea was made with very concentrated tea, just like how it should be done in the magnificent Hong Kong style.

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The iced milk tea, also done the local way, was rich with evaporated milk. 

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Conclusion: Some thought has gone into the creation of this playful and innovative menu at Donka, and Japanese and Chinese ingredients as well as cooking techniques have been skilfully combined in their contemporary dishes. They have, in particular, nailed the Inaniwa udon with crab meat & meat. However, the restaurant’s operation is in need of an overhaul – no matter how busy the restaurant is at lunch hour, cold, undercooked food and impolite service are things that are hard for customers to forget or forgive.