Day 1 in Hong Kong: Adorable Kittens and A Japanese Izakaya Buffet
Flying from JFK to Hong Kong International was a long and sort of exciting. It’s my first solo international flight that lasted for nearly 16 hours and I haven’t been to Hong Kong ever since I was 6 years old!
My aunt Amy picked my slightly-jet lagged self up from Hong Kong International Airport. Thankfully, the last time we actually seen each other was two years ago, so we can still recognize each other. We hugged each other and talked about my plane ride. The awful thing on my end is my horrible Cantonese. Understand almost everything said to me but my brain can’t come up with a complex sentence.
We walked over to what looked like a train platform, shielded in glass, and we took the Airport Express train to Hong Kong. As confusing as it might sound, the airport is 24 miles away from the city.
Whizzing faster than the speed of sound (my ears popped several times during the train ride) through Tsing Yi and Kowloon’s station under 30 minutes, we hailed a cab to my aunt’s apartment.
Stepping out of the cab. Hauling my two large baggage into my aunt’s building and into its small elevator, we finally made it to her apartment. The first thing I’ve seen was my uncle and then… [points down]
I’ve never seen so many cats and kittens (saw about six that evening) in one room, in person, and in my life. They’re all SOO CUTE and I petted a few of them. But reality sank back to me as I saw the kitties start to make themselves comfortable on my personal luggage. I had to scoot them off and roll it over to the room my aunt said I’ll be staying in and greet my uncle’s parents.
After I dropped off my stuff and settle down for a few minutes, we all shuffled out to a cab since my aunt made a reservation at a Japanese restaurant she mentioned during the train ride. She didn’t tell me the name but she told me she liked this spot and it’s really popular amongst the young people and some of the business crowd. Stepping out onto the bustling area of the Central district, I’ve seen lots of young people (in the range of 18 to 30-something), walking into clubs, restaurants or lingering out on the street.
We all took an elevator up to the second floor, where one can see the short, flowy curtains of the entrance, making me think of the Japanese zen-like calmness. Except once we stepped in, it was relatively loud with conversation and buzzed with activity.
It’s 8:30 PM, I’m not too surprised how busy it would be since its still prime dinner hours. Even though it’s a Wednesday.
Once we settled to our table, my aunt grab a stack of menus and started to write in what she thinks is the best stuff of the things she had here. Later on the dinner, I perused through the decks and it’s actually broken down into different categories – sushi, sashimi, soups and salads, rice and udon dishes, yakimono, and tempura. (And I found out the English name of this place – Izakaya Daikichi.) Yes, it’s a lot of food choices but this is, an all-you-can-eat Japanese izakaya. Oh boy.
The grilled mackerel was the first thing that came out of the kitchen. Grilled to a nice, crisp crust. Good char and the fish’s flesh is pretty sweet.
The clam miso soup is arguably the best miso soup I’ve tasted from any Japanese restaurant so far. It’s not overly salty like the ones I’ve tried in NYC restaurants. It’s delicately sweet with small bits of clam on the bottom. Not bad.
Out came the sashimi and hand rolled sushi (ordered separate times throughout this meal) and it’s generally very good. The large ribbons of salmon sushi were luscious and silky. The shrimp was sweet and silky. Same applies to the scallop, white tuna, yellowtail, and tuna though not all were as good as others were. The mini tuna with spring onion hand roll sushi was ok for what it was. It’s dainty and cute but it’s not a balanced temaki (not enough tuna and spring onion flavor).
A medium sized pot of crab congee was put out before us and this is pretty tasty. There was a good amount of crab meat and legs swimming in it.
The grilled meats (tried the chicken wings and beef) were not so great. The meats weren’t as flavorful as I would like it to be.
I never heard of a fish named saury before until I looked it up. Like the mackerel, its exterior is crisp and charred but the whoever supposedly clean this fish didn’t do a great job at it since I tasted something bitter (its guts) when I ate some of this fish.
Working our way through salads, the crab salad didn’t have that much crab. It’s a small pile of torn iceberg lettuce with a tiny mound of crab meat with a little too much mayonnaise. The beef salad with tomato fared a little better though they used unripe tomatoes and the beef was a little dry. The other beef salad, that my aunt ordered off-menu, was ok. I don’t like that sauce that’s covering this salad but the beef was a bit more moist and tasted a bit better. I still don’t like or see the point of having the iceberg lettuce in any of the salads.
My uncle’s mother wanted a bowl of unadon. I didn’t eat it because I’m started feeling full.
There’s two dishes that didn’t work out and stuck out in my mind during this dinner. The geoduck sushi was quite disappointing as I felt like I’m chewing stiff rubber with a mound of sushi rice. When I saw fried octopus tempura on the menu, I was thinking of an octopus tentacle enrobed in tempera batter, perfectly fried to golden brown. Except it was balls of fried mashed potato with a few chunks of octopus within it. It’s a misnomer; they should call it octopus croquette.
The grilled shrimp was pretty good. Sweet, not overcooked.
Toward the end of the meal, we ordered noodles. This bowl of pork broth noodles were ok. The broth wasn’t salty and porky. The noodles were a bit overcooked as I bit it, it’s lacked any chew or springiness.
As for this bowl of beef udon, it’s inconsistent. My uncle had two rounds of this. The first bowl, he said it’s pretty delicious that he wanted another round, which was tagging along the one I’m getting. He noted that it doesn’t taste as good as the one he had earlier and I agree. It’s quite flat in terms of flavor.
My uncle’s sister wanted an order of stir fried udon. I didn’t expect the serving to be family style but I didn’t eat this as my belly felt like it’s going to explode. And it’s my first night in Hong Kong. I don’t want to kill my stomach already.
As my aunt can tell I’m getting tired and it’s 10 PM, we both walked up to her place by taking the Central-Midlevels escalators and stairs. The entire walk was about 20-30 minutes. And called it a night.
Izakaya Daikichi (they don’t have a website)
52-54 Wellington Street,
Central, Hong Kong, China