Towering above On Lan Street in Central Hong Kong, ZEST by Konishi, the city’s first chef-inspired restaurant, has a fitting location for a culinary icon like Japanese chef Mitsuru Konishi. At the very pinnacle of an esteemed career, Konishi has returned to the Hong Kong dining scene to seduce diners with his playful yet stimulating cuisine.
ZEST by Konishi, the newest restaurant by Lai Sun Dining, is a distinctly personal project for the chef, who is making a triumphant return to the city’s gastronomic ranks. Chef Konishi forged his delicate blend of contemporary French technique and intelligent Japanese flair in some of the world’s most demanding kitchens, including two Michelin-starred L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon in Tokyo, and Taillevent in France, where he was the first Japanese Sous Chef in the famed restaurant’s history. In Hong Kong, Konishi is best known for his roles with Lai Sun Dining, which included earning two Michelin stars while helming Wan Chai’s Wagyu Takumi in 2014.
ZEST by Konishi is the culmination of the chef’s extensive travels, the development of his signature precision, and the realisation of his enticing and invigorating interpretation of two of the world’s most intransigent culinary styles. The two-level restaurant delivers a dining experience beyond the tried-and-tested; a concept entirely inspired by the enigmatic individual, ZEST by Konishi explores the chef’s undeniable talents while invoking curiosity and excitement as diners travel through the destinations and kitchens of his extensive career through each dish.
Adventurous, vivacious and energetic, ZEST by Konishi breaks the fine-dining mould with a philosophy centred around putting one’s heart and soul into a given art. Konishi’s menu is heartfully crafted, executed with finesse and seasoned with pertinence, as the chef playfully blends new flavour profiles that will bring deep satisfaction and enjoyment to gourmets.
ZEST by Konishi presents itself with different experiences: The Dining Room is a light, airy and distinctly elegant space of honey-hued Birchwood, polished stone, woven rattan and leather, with banquette booths and towering windows complemented by subtle Japanese design accents. Located on the 28th floor, the 38-seat space including a 12-seat private dining room delivers haute cuisine lunch, dinner à la carte and degustation menus that act as a canvas on which Konishi illustrates his skills and inspirations, complemented in part by the theatrics of an open kitchen. The private dining room features hand-carved timber wall panels and a wine cellar stocked with coveted old and new world labels.
The Dining Room is a culinary theatre in which Konishi captures the essence of seasonality and tradition, with a particular focus on layer and texture. This dining experience embraces the freshest seasonal ingredients which quality is effortlessly highlighted using Japanese and French culinary precision. Both the à la carte and degustation menus are inspirational and impavid as proven by ZEST’s debut menu with fresh pain de campagne and brioche, made to Konishi’s own recipes, and served with butter topped with soy sauce powder, green tea powder and Spanish olive oil; an amuse-bouche of Japanese summer sweet corn, crispy sponge cake topped with corn purée and savoury flamed buttered popcorn; and the stunning Green Garden, a breath-taking coalesce of 20 types of vegetables and herbs, including celery root purée, fennel jelly, baby carrots, edamame, black olive crumble, crispy quinoa, all gently dressed with shiso paste and lemon, then garnished with marigold flowers, micro herbs and more, many sourced from Hong Kong organic farms, and paired with a clear extraction of Australian romaine tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.
Konishi’s Japanese background is evident with ingredients like wild chi ayu – a sweet moss-fed river fish caught in Japan during the summer – which the chef pairs with crispy rice cracker, shiso leaves, and umeboshi, fermented and salted Japanese plum. Black-throated sea perch or nodoguro, a highly sought after fish from the Sea of Japan sometimes referred to as ‘white toro’, is steamed and served with gooey walnut gyuhi – which has a mochi-like texture and spinach rolls of sautéed enoki and Chinese spinach and a soul-soothing broth of fish bone, chicken dashi, grilled onion and clams. Made to share, the Ping Yuen Chicken takes its inspiration from the Chinese classic Eight Treasure Duck that Konishi reinterprets with locally-sourced chicken from Hong Kong suppliers, which is stuffed with lotus-leaf wrapped Japanese rice, water chestnut, chicken liver, and foie gras, before being smoked over a fragrant bed of sage rosemary and thyme.
Sweet touches to The Dining Room’s menus include homemade coconut sorbet, served with a medley of meringue, passion fruit cream, mandarin, pink grapefruit and edible flowers; and baked-to-order citrus madeleines with poppy seeds. The nine-course degustation tasting menu is available daily during dinner service at The Dining Room on 28th floor; priced is at HK$1,380 per person, with the choice of wine matching at an additional HK$780 per person. Prices are subject to a 10% service charge.
Furthering the concept’s narrative, The Lounge, a chic and refined space located on the 29th floor, pays tribute to Japanese culture, with delectable express set menus and bento boxes ideally suited for power lunches, and Nippon-inspired craft cocktails adding the perfect ending to the workday as the space transitions from eatery to hidden cocktail divan, complete with outdoor terrace and stunning cityscape views. An opening release for The Lounge will be sent out in the coming weeks.