Age-old Japanese fare in modern Hong Kong
An oasis of Zen inside The Royal Garden, one of Hong Kong’s bustling hotels, Inagiku Grande Japanese Restaurant borrows kaiseki and tempura traditions from its namesake Japan restaurant. While the original family-run eatery in Japan has a much more rustic feel to it, Inagiku Grande in East Tsim Sha Tsui is a swank version of the popular eatery.
Upon arrival, a smartly dressed server will escort you to a gleaming wood table in the main dining room — though you can also request a spot at one of the teppanyaki, tempura or sashimi counters for a more interactive experience. The restaurant counts a substantial 136 seats under its roof and still manages to retain an intimate atmosphere thanks to well-spaced clusters of tables and pretty floating partitions.
It’s all dark wood, brown upholstery, warm lighting, gold accents and Japanese artwork in this sophisticated dining room. Cozy corners provide you with plenty of personal space while instrumental music lends to the elegant aesthetic. You can see the artful eye and attention to detail when looking around the restaurant, with a sand garden at the entrance and waterfall elements apparent throughout the space. Instead of a heavy-handed themed, most of the Japanese influence takes shape in discreet details, with one exception: a huge fish tank glows neon blue behind the sashimi station, auguring well for the promise of tank-to-plate dining.
The lengthy menu spans all the usual suspects — teppanyaki, tempura, sushi, sashimi and more — but the fresh ingredients and meticulous plating set Inagiku Grande apart from other Japanese spots. Chef Masayuki Goto is famous for his delicately prepared kaiseki menu, which features the likes of a zensai jelly soup topped with gold leaf, shrimp rice rolls, nimono corn fritters, yakimono stir-fried abalone with crispy lotus root, and big slices of prime toro that crown a mountain of ice chips.
Other highlights on the menu include the signature sea urchin, served spikes and all, and Inagiku Grande’s signature tempura. The tempura recipe, which dates back more than 100 years to the original family-run restaurant in Japan, uses a signature sesame oil to keep the tempura light and fresh. The age-old technique is carried on here with premium sesame oil, a light batter, a dash of sea salt, seasonal vegetables and fish, plus Japanese-imported equipment. The result is crispy, light and all too easy to eat — dip each morsel in the housemade chili salt or splash on some lemon juice for an added dimension.
The drinks menu is impressive, with five pages devoted to wine and six pages to sake. If you’re having trouble making a decision, try the restaurant’s own house blend sake. The experience starts with a selection of your own sake glass: the server presents a tray of about 12 cups in every shape, from short and squat ceramic numbers to etched-glass mini chalices. Chilled sake is served in an elegant Japanese tokkuri glass carafe, while warm sake stays cozy in a more rustic-looking ceramic serving flask. Aside from sake, Inagiku Grande has also imported several other traditional Japanese drinks — think Sapporo, Kirin and Asahi beers alongside Yoichi, Taketsuru and Yamazaki whiskies. Looking for something non-alcoholic? Try a mocktail made with Japanese lime sorbet, Sprite and soda water.