Since we moved further west to a solely residential area, Kennedy Town has become our new ‘hood and we’ve been doing our best to explore all its hidden treasures. Shiba, a cosy little kushiyaki restaurant on Smithfield, is just one of these many treasures we are slowly discovering.
Step into this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it restaurant and you can easily imagine you have just left Kennedy Town and set foot in an authentic kushiyaki joint in Japan. At the same time as the delicious scent of grilled meat reaches you, you’ll also notice the incredible collection of sake, sochu and beer that line the walls behind the kitchen bar counter. If you don’t know much about sake, the drinks list might seem a little overwhelming to begin with, but staff are on hand to offer their recommendations. Amongst better known Japanese beers, you can also try mango beer and even wasabi or white truffle-flavoured beer if you so desire. The glass of Katsurashimizu sake that I tried was satisfyingly smooth and went down a little too easily.
All the food is prepared behind the bar, where the chefs grill a selection of veggie, meat, seafood and of course chicken skewers for all to see. Before getting to the skewers, however, we couldn’t resist starting with a bowl of edamame and a plate of dried puffer fish. This isn’t a dish I have often, as you don’t find it on every menu, so when I see it, I must have it. Shiba’s version was as good as any other, if not better.
The first of the skewers we tried were some rather dry and bland pieces of chicken neck. I asked if there was any shichimi to sprinkle over it, but was told they didn’t have any. Perhaps adding any seasoning would be an insult to the chef…
The chicken with leeks fared much better. The pieces of chicken thigh were juicy and tender, with a delicious flavour.
We also enjoyed the homemade shiso minced chicken, served with the obligatory sweet tare and egg dipping sauce. The chicken meatball had the perfect texture and the addition of the shiso added its distinct, pleasant flavour to this classic dish.
From the specials board we tried the smoked pork belly, which was basically just thick-cut smoky bacon – what’s not to like! The fat and pork blended together nicely and we appreciated the prominent smoky flavour.
Although the beef was just a little chewy, the beef and cheese rolls, mainly thanks to the gooey, creamy cheese inside, were seriously tasty.
Perhaps my favourite of all the skewers we sampled was the chicken with wasabi sauce. Again, the chicken was tender and juicy, topped with a dollop of notable yet not overpowering wasabi.
We were rather surprised when we were presented with our final skewer, for we had ordered a sweet potato skewer, yet this looked nothing at all like sweet potato! They were indeed the tiniest sweet potatoes I had ever seen, yet they were certainly not lacking in flavour.
Including drinks, the bill came to a little over $400 each, which isn’t too bad for quality kushiyaki in a cute, cosy setting. Shiba is a lovely little neighbourhood joint that serves as the perfect date night spot or for a fun, sake-fuelled dinner with friends.
G/F, May Sun Building
Tel: +852 3568 2425