Rating: ★★★☆☆

Address: 1/F, 28 Elgin Street, Central 中環伊利近街28號1樓

Telephone: 2363 7299

Opened by chef Justin Chan, the brains behind the organic food restaurant Locofama, Naked Gurume Gyarari (which means Naked “gourmet gallery”) is a rookie on Elgin Street that serves healthy Japanese tapas.

A stark black and white stairway leads to the new restaurant, which is divided into a gallery/private dining room on the left, and a main dining area on the right. The decor is stylish and effortlessly chic, with glass display shelves, dark wood flooring and an open kitchen countertop completing a contemporary, minimalistic set-up. Service is eager and polite, but a tad pushy with their recommendations.

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(1) We start off with the black truffle lotus root chips ($78), served with a rich yuzu garlic cream. The chips are a tad oily,but are deliciously crispy and taste moreish.

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(2) The soy sauce edamame ($68), cooked with soy sauce, Japanese black sugar and sea salt, offers a twist on the traditional boiled edamame, but the flavouring is too intense and masks the natural taste of the beans.

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(3) The  diver scallops with crystalline ice leaves salad ($168) is a delicate and tasty dish – the scallops are pristine, the crystalline ice leaves add texture and the bacon bits accentuate the salad’s flavours.

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(4) The sushi roll, called “Screaming Naked” ($158), is clean-tasting and enjoyable. The yellowtail tuna is mouthwatering, the asparagus is bright and crispy and some wasabi gives it a nice kick.

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(5) The shimeji and quinoa with black truffle egg pasta ($128) offers a delightful range of flavours – the sous vide egg is utterly enticing, the cherry tomato and shimeiji mushrooms are refreshing and there is some black truffle to lift the pasta’s flavours. My complaint, though, is that there is way too much black pepper which overwhelms the dish.

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(6) The uni and quinoa pasta ($198) is al dente and nicely done. The garlic cream, parmesan and sea urchin, though each intensely flavoured, interact harmoniously in this dish.

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(7) The toro and 48 months Iberico ham wrap ($198, 3 pieces) is without a doubt the star of the night. It is lined with a piece of baking paper for you to hold it up to eat; the butteriness of the tuna belly and the deep flavours of the Iberico ham turn out to be surprisingly complementary, and the sea grapes and quinoa offer a gorgeous popping sensation. Completely mind-blowing!

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(8) The soy ginger raspberry braised short ribs ($238), slow cooked for hours and served in a raspberry balsamic vinegar sauce, are thoroughly succulent and tender. We only wish there is more in the serve!

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(9) The grilled garlic black Angus rib eye steak ($188) is a bundle of joy. The beef flavours are outstanding, the deep fried garlic chips are gorgeously crispy and the orange ginger sauce is fruity and delicious.

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There is free corkage during the restaurant’s soft opening, and dinner costs around $500-$600 per head without drinks. I adore the sleek, artistic decor of the eatery, but the food quality is inconsistent, the portions are a tad small and we are a little confused as to how “healthy” the Japanese tapas really are. I hope the kitchen can iron out the kinks soon in order to do justice to this beautiful venue!