If Hong Kong’s dining scene is huge, its nightlife scene is probably even bigger. Privé Group has taken both these things into consideration and brought us AMAZAKE, a crazy fun sake and izakaya bar in Central that replaces another of the group’s restaurants, Masu.
The revamped space is completely unrecognisable. It’s modern, colourful and you immediately know that a night here is not going to be just an average, civilised dinner. The concept is inspired by the crazy nightlife and ferocious drinking culture of Japan. The idea is that you can come for dinner, drinks and even drinking games, and party late into the night. All of the staff are trained on how to play all the Japanese, Chinese and Western drinking games, which include Kiku No Hana, Liar Dice, Kings, Flip Cup and Beer Pong.
The bar is a central feature, with the restaurant’s name emblazoned in lights above it. There is a wide range of sakes and interesting cocktails available, many made with Amazake, the traditional Japanese drink made from fermented rice, after which the restaurant is named. Continuing the playful theme, the space is decorated with huge murals of cute sumo wrestlers just hanging out; apparently Privé wanted to create a space that would be ideal for these little fatties to play, relax, eat and drink after a hard day of wrestling. Fatty sumo dudes aside, it’s definitely a cool place to hang out after a hard day at work.
As you would expect, the menu is also a little crazy, but I say this in a good way. There’s an element of traditional Japanese cuisine, but it’s given a funky modern twist. Even the bowls of edamame we were served to start with were far from the traditional version we’re all familiar with; these were dunked in a deliciously moreish chilli soy sauce that I would happily have drunk from the bowl.
I also loved the ‘sweet sweet potatoes’. These purple sweet potato fries were seasoned with shiso and garlic salt, served with wasabi aioli. Even though I kept putting far too much aioli on them and giving myself that painful yet satisfying burn, I adored these and eventually had to move them away so that I could save space for other tasty dishes!
Another unanimous favourite around our table of eight girls was the Rockin’ shrimp tempura. I’m not sure what magical ingredient they added to these crunchy bites of rock shrimp and mushroom, but whatever it was was awesome.
Each of the sushi rolls has its own fun roll-themed name. We tried the Rolling in the Deep (eel and cucumber rolls), the #ROLO (spicy salmon rolls), and the most unusual yet utterly delicious, Rock & Roll (cucumber and minced beef rolls, wrapped in Parma ham). I loved the creativity of each one of these, and the unusual flavours that wowed us all.
Chicken wings, for me, are often a bit hit and miss. Thankfully, AMAZAKE’s Fly Bird were definitely a hit. They were wonderfully crispy, topped with sesame seeds that gave them an added crunch, and came with a pot of delicious chipotle aioli.
The similarly named Fly Fish were also impressive. These little bundles of kisu (a Japanese white fish) and uni tempura had a mild yet satisfying flavour. For those who aren’t normally fans of sea urchin, this dish would be the perfect introduction.
Whilst the bacon and corn, served in a hot skillet and topped with gooey cheese and bonito flakes, was an interesting dish, I wasn’t particularly wowed by it. I was also a little underwhelmed by the lobster udon. Having waited a while for this dish, I had expected it to be incredible, yet the lobster was a little chewy and the lobster bisque sauce a little overpowering.
I was, however, seriously impressed by the pork belly sliders. The brioche-style bread was crispy yet fluffy, giving way to a decent chunk of delicious pork belly, liberally coated in soy jam that oozed out the sides.
The only dessert at AMAZAKE is mochi ice cream. These little balls of goodness come in two flavours – sesame and matcha. Although the matcha was subtle and sweet, it was the sesame that won hands down in my opinion.
Prices are surprisingly reasonable at AMAZAKE, with most dishes between $58 and $148. Obviously, once you see how delicious everything sounds, there’s the temptation to order a huge number of dishes, which will quickly add up. My advice is to go with a large group of friends and go crazy. Rowdiness at AMAZAKE is expected, so, seriously, don’t expect this to be an average civilised meal; this is so much better than that.
G/F, On Hing Building
1 On Hing Terrace
Tel: +852 2537 7787