Zoku at The Hari Hong Kong in Wan Chai A tasteful tribute to Japanese flavours

Located on the second floor of The Hari Hong Kong, Zoku Restaurant & Terrace dispenses with the trappings of austerity and zen to serve up a refreshing take on Japanese cuisine centred on quality and ingenuity. Meaning “clan” in Japanese, Zoku sets the stage for the city’s cognoscenti to meet and indulge.

Under the guidance of Chef de Cuisine Phillip Pak, who has worked alongside renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Zoku employs seasonal Japanese produce to reimagine classics for the modern palate.  Ranging from sushi and tempura to kushiyaki and heartier mains, Zoku’s wide menu promises to tantalise and delight.

Whet the appetite with the Wagyu Dumplings ($188) which features generous mounds of minced beef deftly encased in a paper-thin wrapper, steamed and pan-fried to yield a juxtaposition of tender and crisp textures. The juicy pot stickers are paired with soy vinegar and fragrant garlic oil, topped with fresh scallions.

Seafood lovers will love the Crispy Spring Roll ($148) which sees shrimp and scallop mousse wrapped in a delicate house-made tuille accompanied with a smooth edamame purée dip. Folded into crunchy slivers of pickled radish, Yellowtail Sashimi ($288) slices are dressed in a bright yuzu soy sauce and garnished with serrano pepper for a subtle heat. Snow Crab with Baby Spinach ($228)sees plump snow crab legs swathed in crispy phyllo pastry wisps, served with a baby spinach and heirloom carrot salad tossed in yuzu vinaigrette.

Served in pairs, the kushiyaki will make an excellent addition to the table. Juicy morsels ofWagyu ($188), Salmon ($108) and more are skewered and grilled over binchotan and glazed in a choice of tare, shiso or spicy miso sauces to finish.

Sushi lovers will love the rotating selection of Temaki Handrolls (ranging $88 to $188 per roll), a canvas for chef Phillip’s culinary creativity. Crisp sheets of nori and chewy short-grain rice make the perfect backdrop to the season’s finest produce, each one thoughtfully complemented with accoutrements to ensure the best flavours and textures in every bite. For starters, diners can look forward to delectable pairings of toro and caviar, botan ebi and uni, and much more.

Chef Pak’s modern sensibilities are best expressed through the mains. Diners can taste Japanese cuisine at its most decadent with theWagyu Steak ($428/100g). Sourced from Miyazaki Prefecture, a region known for its abundance of spring water and fine beef, A5 wagyu striploin is grilled over binchotan to medium rare and crowned with a large slab of foie gras. The richness of the proteins is countered by the sweet punchiness of grilled scallions and spicy miso sauce. Another favourite, the toothsome Chilean Seabass ($288) is basted in yuzu herb butter to achieve a golden crust and lavished with oyster cream for an added brininess; sautéed brussels sprouts and grilled maitake complete the dish.

A selection of light Japanese sweets will tempt even the most determined dessert detractors. Highlights include the coconut-infused Mochi Cake with Coconut Sorbet ($118), draped with miso caramel that verges on savoury, and the ethereal Tofu Cheesecake ($118) paired with matcha ice cream and cinnamon crumble.

To pair with the food, Bar Manager Sabrina Cantini Budden has created a concise selection of imaginative, multi-sensory cocktails that draw inspiration from Japanese flavours and culture. Sip on Suzie Wong ($108) inspired by eponymous heroine in the 1957 novel “The World of Suzie Wong” – a cheeky concoction of whisky, rose syrup, cucumber and yuzu soda jazzed up with a spritz of rose water tableside. Meaning “those who love piling up books at home without reading them” in Japanese, Tsundoku ($108) features daijingo sake, gin, peach, cranberry, ginger and soda, garnished with a paper crane on the side as a nod to its namesake. Zoku’s beverage list comprises a wide variety of sakes, shochus, Japanese whiskies, and fine wines that will carry the party into the night.

Zoku is open from Monday to Sunday. At lunch, a set menu is available offering rice bowls and bento sets. Walk-ins are welcome and reservations can be made here.