Wagyu Takumi

The Oakhill, 28 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong, China

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Tucked away in a quiet Wanchai street near the Oakhill apartment complex, Wagyu Takumi opened in 2013 along with two sister restaurants Gin Sai and Rozan, all from the same Lai Sun Group that own this apartment block. The restaurant has a discreet sliding wooden door entrance that is typically Japanese, and seats just a dozen diners in an L shaped arrangement. The chairs are arrayed around a central counter where the chefs prepare the food in front of you, which is fun to watch. Place settings are less packed in than at some restaurants in Japan with this seating format.

Head chef here is Mitsuro Kinishi, who worked in France for four years at Taillevent and also at Michel Rostang, as well as at Atelier Robuchon in Tokyo. His time spent in France can clearly be seen in his cooking, which mixes French influence with classical Japanese kaiseki dining. As is usual in such restaurants, there is no menu, just a sequence of dishes that the kitchen has chosen based on seasonal ingredients. The menu was priced at HK$ 1,850 (£144)  per person. 

There was a quite extensive wine list, with decent New World coverage as well as the usual lists of Burgundies and Bordeaux bottles that often constitute Hong Kong restaurant wine lists. Mount Difficulty Riesling 2012 was HK$ 540 for a wine that appears in the high street for about HK$ 247, Josmeyer Riesling Dragon 2008 was HK$ 780 for a wine that you can find in a shop for around HK$ 340, and Chateau Lynch Bages 2008 was HK$ 2,680 for a wine that will set you back around HK$ 1,251.

The meal began with onion mousse surrounded by watercress coulis, topped with sea urchin and caviar. The mousse was lovely, with intense flavour, the slight sweetness of the onion nicely complemented by the briny sea urchin and saltiness of the caviar (17/20). This was followed by French white asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, sprinkled with crunchy little pieces of beef tongue. The asparagus was of high quality and precisely cooked, and the Hollandaise was perfect (18/20). A soup of komatsuma (Japanese mustard spinach) and lily bulb purée with black truffle was also impressive, the seasoning spot on and the flavour a more delicate version of the spinach that we usually encounter in the west, the soup cup having a little of the lily bulb at the bottom to provide texture (17/20).

This was followed by a barley risotto with abalone and seaweed from Shimanto in Japan. This was a classy dish, the stock used for the risotto having deep flavour, the barley tender and the abalone carefully prepared so as to avoid even a hint of the chewiness that so often afflicts this ingredient. I tend to be suspicious of both abalone and barley as ingredients as they are so often mishandled in restaurants, but this dish was very good indeed (18/20).

Scallops were seared with a blowtorch and served with seasonal vegetables, a duck jus dressing and little cubes of foie gras. The latter had superb liver flavour and silky texture, the dish just marred a little for me by the scallops, which had good sweetness but were served not quite hot, a consequence of the sequence in which the elements of the dish were plated (16/20).

French lamb was served with green peas and pastia, a creamy noodle pie. The peas had terrific flavour and the lamb was beautifully cooked (18/20). The final savoury course was Miyazaki wagyu tenderloin grilled over charcoal, accompanied by Kagoshima sirloin cooked on the teppanyaki griddle. The beef was accompanied by lettuce garnished with onion rings, fried garlic crisps and a choice of Bearnaise sauce, pepper sauce or freshly grated wasabi. The beef was superb, having great flavour but not being too fatty, the simple accompaniments letting the quality of the beef speak for itself. The care and attention here could be seen in the superb Bearnaise sauce, which had exactly the right amount of white wine vinegar (18/20).

For dessert, I was not particularly convinced by cold avocado mousse with wild strawberry and a warm grog of rum. For me the avocado just didn't combine that well with the strawberry, though the ingredients themselves were certainly of good quality (15/20). Better was jasmine tea ice cream with milk powder and kumquat compote. The kumquat, often an overly sour fruit, was a revelation, in this case from Kagoshima and having lovely flavour, an enjoyable combination of sweet with sour. As here and as is so often the case, the quality of fruit from Japan is without parallel, and this transformed my view of the humble kumquat, which I had never previously enjoyed (17/20).

Service was excellent, with drinks carefully topped up and the chef courteous and welcoming. The bill came to HK$ 4,772 with beer to drink, which works out at £186 per head. If you had a modest bottle of wine to share then your bill would come to around £190 per head. I was very impressed with the cooking here, the classical French training of the chef paying dividends, the combination of French and Japanese cuisines working very effectively. This is hardly a cheap meal but the ingredient quality was very high indeed. It thoroughly deserves its two Michelin stars. 

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