If there was one cuisine I could eat for the rest of my life, I would definitely choose Japanese. I have sushi at least twice a week and never get sick of it! That being said, I’ve had my fair share of good, average and not-so-great sushi and sashimi joints around town, and can safely say that Etsu Sushi is amongst the top of the top. Located on a very local foodie street hidden under a bridge in Tin Hau, this little hole-in-the-wall spot is a true gem of a restaurant.
Head Chef Kei has been pioneering the art of making fine sushi in Hong Kong for the last eight years, from finding the right balance of flavours and textures to flying in fresh fish sourced straight from Japan. He even has his own “how to master sushi” book to boot! I first heard of Etsu through my aunt, one of the truest foodies out there, and since she has never steered me wrong, I knew it would be delicious.
On a recent evening when we had a night off from parenting duties, the hubby and I made our way to Tin Hau to sample Chef Kei’s creations. We were served a slew of delicious omakase-style sushi and sashimi dishes. In Japanese omakase means, “I’ll leave it to you” or “to entrust”, which basically meant we were completely in the chef’s hands!
We began the meal with a refreshing glass of their house-made plum wine which was sweet and a little bit tart. Chef Man than gave us sweet white Hokkaido corn sashimi which was essentially raw corn. Now stay with me, Mamas, if you’ve never had raw corn before, then you definitely need to try this! The kernels were extremely sweet and creamy without the raw vegetable taste. A new and surprisingly pleasant experience.
Following the corn sashimi we had one the most fresh tasting tomatoes we’ve ever had. The Hokkaido tomato was served with a little bit of rock salt which brought out the natural sweetness of the tomato. The Hokkaido fresh raw oyster was salty, massive and tasted of the sea, just like every oyster should be!
One of my favourite dishes came next and that was the minced toro with quail egg yolk wrapped in seaweed nori and served with pickled vegetables (their take on a DIY build your own wrap). It was creamy and delicious with a nice tang from the pickles. I also loved that we could create our own little rolls!
Following the toro came a slew of fresh sashimi served with shiso flowers, tangy soy sauce and fresh grated wasabi. Thinly sliced flounder, meaty and fatty yellow tail, tiny sweet shrimps and amberjack! It was as if we had been flown into Tokyo to sample the fresh fare at the Tsukiji Fish Market! For a salmon and tuna kinda gal, I was pleasantly surprised and converted to trying other types of sashimi on a more regular basis!
The next dish was one of the highlights of our evening, the seared salmon belly sushi. Oh. My. Goodness. Say goodbye to your local sushi joints because you will never have sushi the same way again after you’ve tried their seared salmon belly. It was the most flavourful, fattiest, creamiest piece of salmon I’ve ever had. It completely melted in my mouth with the perfect rice and vinegar ratio with brushed soy sauce on top. This had me dreaming of salmon belly for the next few nights… (happy sigh).
Our last raw portion of the meal was another 10 in our books. Chef Man served us seared scallop with black truffle wrapped in a crisp seaweed nori sheet. The smokiness from the sear, the aromatic truffles and the sweet, fresh scallop…amazing. We were then presented with house pickled ginger to cleanse our palettes before moving onto the hot dishes.
The first dish was another one of our highlights and truly a unique combination we had never tried before. A hallowed out bone served as the “dish” that held large pieces of crab meat cooked in bone marrow and mixed with bubbly hot melted cheese. This sat atop a charcoal burner and was served with crispy rice discs. One of the best dishes we’ve ever tried!
Next came the famous Japanese egg omelette except this one was served with a roasted eel and spinach in the middle! What followed the omelette was almost paper-thin salmon skin chips served with spicy mayo.
At this point, out of the kitchen came the most aromatic bowl of ramen headed our way. Many of the other diners stopped the waiter to ask what we were going to have because it looked so interesting and smelled amazing! Now for this dish, you really have to muster up some courage as it’s actually shrimp brains broth mixed with ramen. It’s probably one of the most cholesterol-driven dishes served at Etsu and looks heavier than it actually is. But try it and trust me, you won’t regret it after! And on the flip side, if you’re all for head guts, this dish is full of it.
Finally, to end the savoury dishes of the night we had a simple sesame charcoal Japanese chicken wing. The skin was very crisp, the meat juicy and the flavour peppery and sweet.
To end the evening we had our choice of complimentary ice cream from sesame, to yuzu to tofu or sea salt. We had the sesame and tofu and they were just the icing on the cake to end, in our opinion, the most perfect omakase meal.
Etsu is open for lunch from 12-2:30pm and dinner 6-11pm daily. It is recommended to call ahead for reservations. A private room seating up to 10 is also available.
Etsu, 23 Tsing Fung Street, Tin Hau, Hong Kong, 3580 8851