Look & Feel: Tokio Joe is inspired by Ken Eto, a 20th century Japanese-American mobster (nicknamed Tokyo Joe) who ran the streets of Chicago. For its new iteration, Tokio Joe draws on Eto’s legendary crime syndicate which ran highly lucrative gambling operations. The space is decked out with snippets of Japanese Zen, including plenty of light wood and a central sushi bar, but there are also sly nods that present a speakeasy vibe—think a record player spinning tunes from the 50s and 60s. Normally, you can expect a truly raucous vibe with people making loud conversation over dinner and drinks—on a Monday night in June, the atmosphere was more subdued, perhaps due to ongoing pandemic restrictions.
On the Menu: Tokio Joe’s has long been a go-to destination for quality sushi, sashimi, sushi rolls, and sake. But, in its new guise, the restaurant is putting a firm emphasis on omakase, the traditional Japanese dining experience where diners leave the decisions up to the chef. Of course, there is still an a la carte menu available, along with lunch sets.
To get the full experience, we are doing the omakase experience, giving the chef carte blanche to give us whatever he wants. Of course, you can let him know if there are dietary restrictions to take note of. The beauty of an omakase meal is that you never quite know what you’re going to get, and no two experiences will be the same. We kick things off with toro and quail’s egg in a light sauce, which is quickly followed by a trio of bites, including a deliciously decadent baked oyster, tempura veggies, and a sashimi roll. Fresh ingredients are key here, and this is highlighted by the next two courses, a trio of jet-fresh sashimi, including salmon, tuna, and prawn, and a platter of sushi.
Diners are free to add on some a la carte dishes if they choose, and we can attest to the fact that you’re in for a treat if you choose to do so. We try the Spicy Toro Tartar and the Spicy Tuna Crunch, and can give two very enthusiastic thumbs up to both.
Jeng: The food. Tokio Joe’s puts on a good spread—though that’s not to say it’s the best Japanese food you’ll find in Hong Kong. You definitely should order the xxx though.
Not So Jeng: As mentioned, the atmosphere was lacking when we went in on a Monday night. But, we’re willing to chalk this up to the fact that there are no tourists coming into Hong Kong and local diners are keen to try new things while stuck here due to border closures.
FYI: Next to the restaurant’s entrance, there’s a bar area where guests can grab a drink while waiting for their meal. Inspired by the legend of the original Tokyo Joe, guests will be able to gamble for free drinks.
Check out Hong Kong’s newest restaurants and bars here.
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