Harlan Goldstein is quite a character around town, known mainly for his steakhouses, affinity to American cuisine and no-nonsense personality. He’s now trying his hand at Japanese cuisine with the opening of Sushi To, one of two of his restaurants to open in the new Midtown building in Causeway Bay.
Sushi To is named after Harlan’s long-term business partner and friend Simon To. It’s a beautiful space high up on the 29th floor with an even more beautiful view. As you walk in, you see a teppanyaki bar on one side, a sushi bar on the other and a sake bar straight ahead of you, before walking into the main dining area and enjoying the modern space with traditional Japanese furnishings.
Together with executive chef Maeda Norihisa, Harlan has devised a menu that includes sushi, sashimi, robatayaki, teppanyaki, tempura, sukiyaki, stone-pot rice dishes and also a few omakase tasting menus. Yes, the menu is as overwhelming as it sounds. I’m not a big fan of big menus – I struggle to make decisions at the best of times and constantly worry that there’s an amazing dish that I’ve missed out on by not being able to order everything on the menu.
Nonetheless we made a good stab at it between the four of us, starting with a bowl of edamame from the suitably named “Let’s get party started” section of the menu. You can’t go wrong with perfectly cooked, wonderfully salty edamame, so there was nothing I could really fault about these.
Next up, the chopped fatty tuna and spring onion rolls were fine, but there was nothing particularly notable about them. I was expecting a little more fatty tuna in each roll, so it could be that my opinion about these has something to do with greediness!
The crispy fried tofu salad with aubergine, mizuna and daikon, however, was pretty delicious. Having saved my piece of tofu for last, by the time I got round to eating it, it wasn’t quite as crispy as the name suggested, but it nevertheless had a lovely silky texture beneath the batter and I loved the spicy soya and sesame dressing.
We were rather intrigued by “Harlan G’s Funky Maki Rolls,” so we tried the Happy Chicken Maki, the Dragon Fire Maki and the Magic Mushrooms Maki. Admittedly I was initially a little dubious about these, as sometimes trying to be too creative can backfire, but actually I was pretty impressed by all three. My favourite was the Dragon Fire Maki – crispy soft shell crab with avocado, jalapeño aioli and mango, a combination of fresh and light flavours that really worked.
Another winner was the 60-day aged US ribeye with teriyaki sauce, from the teppanyaki section of the menu. Some chunks of beef were a little chewier than I would have expected, yet the flavour was spot on, causing the boys to keep talking about this dish for days on end.
I adored the fried rice with black garlic, wagyu beef and spring onion. Here the chunks of beef were incredibly tender and the black garlic added a lovely rich sweetness that made this one of my favourite dishes of the night.
Trying to cover as many sections of the menu as possible, we finished our savouries with some robatayaki. Whilst the eggplant with bonito flakes had an overpowering flavour that rendered it almost inedible, the minced chicken was delicious, served with a rich egg yolk dipping sauce.
Feeling the need to finish on something sweet (as always), the sesame tiramisu was nice enough, though a little too heavy after all the rest. Given that it didn’t have even a hint of coffee, I also felt that the name was a little misleading; I personally love sesame, but if someone was expecting there to be at least an undertone of coffee, then they might have been somewhat disappointed.
The green tea panna cotta, however, would have left no one in any doubt, as the matcha flavour was certainly prominent and utterly delicious, whilst the red bean ice cream delivered a necessary sweetness.
Service was a little mixed; for example, they asked me three times what I would like to drink before the others arrived, but then later often took ages to take our order, or to deliver our food and drinks. The total bill, including some beers and a couple of cocktails, came to $2370 for four people, which averaged out to about $592 per head. Considering Harlan’s Michelin-star status, I was actually reasonably surprised that it wasn’t more expensive – but then again we didn’t have much in the way of seafood and neither did we venture into sake territory. Having entered with fairly neutral expectations, I did enjoy my meal at Sushi To and was impressed with both the quality and creativity in the dishes we tried, even if I did find the menu just a tad overwhelming.
29/F, Soundwill Plaza II Midtown
1-29 Tang Lung Street
+852 2970 3218