Turning Japanese: The second restaurant to open at the new The Hari Hong Kong hotel on Wanchai’s Lockhart Road, Zoku is an ode to modern Japanese cuisine.
Look & Feel: The Hari Hong Kong is an aesthete’s dream and Zoku is no different. The elegant restaurant boasts an elegant atmosphere and marries Japanese Zen design with sophisticated Western aesthetics. Tables are spacious and spaced at a distance to allow for reasonably private conversations (such a rarity for space-starved Hong Kong) and offer comfortable banquette-inspired seating and plush chairs. As for the color palette, it effortlessly blends soothing neutral tones with pops of pale pink and jewel-toned purples. The attention to detail here is unsurpassed, and little, easy-to-miss details come together to create a truly opulent experience – that includes Devialet Phantom speakers discretely placed around the restaurant to create a surround-sound soundtrack, carefully placed objets d’art, and a wealth of coffee table books (by Assosuline and Taschen, natch) and cloth-bound Penguin Classics.
On the Menu: Zoku is billed as a Japanese restaurant, but like the hotel it’s situated in, it breaks the mold. Translation: don’t expect run-of-the-mill sushi and teppanyaki. Instead, the dishes here focus on high-quality ingredients, creative techniques, and precise plating; their complexity comes from their rich flavors and textures.
We start with Yellowtail Sashimi, but instead of simple slices of fish, the dish is elevated by wrapping the fish in pickled radish and serving it with a side of yuzu soy. Next, the Kushiyaki platter turns the humble skewer on its head by offering a trio of beef, pork, and scallops that are perfectly cooked and bursting with flavor.
The standout dishes of the meal, however, are the Chilean Seabass – a tender fish steak served on a bed of sake-sauteed Brussel sprouts and accompanied by yuzu herb butter and oyster cream – and the Wagyu Steak, which pairs thin slices of A5 Miyazaki beef with seared foie gras to create a finely-tuned balance of flavors and textures. A cheeky surprise is the handroll. Another boundary-pushing dish, the roll of toro came topped with uni, caviar, and gold leaf, and presented taco-like in a wooden holder that was custom made just for the restaurant.
Even in its desserts, Zoku doesn’t spare its creativity. The Mochi Cake with Coconut Sorbet is devilishly delightful and the perfect not-too-sweet ending to the meal. But, that’s before we tried the Tofu Cheesecake, which was a bright, light sweet treat.
The food here is ably seconded by a well-crafted drinks list by Beverage Director Sabrina Cantini Budden. We kick things off with the non-alcoholic Shirinyoku, an earthy blend of shiso, pineapple, matcha, lime, and soda that preps the palate for the feast to follow. The Suzie Wong is a surprisingly complex cocktail of Japanese Whisky, rose syrup, cucumber, and yuzu soda – and, Sabrina was even able to make a non-alcoholic version of the drink (thank you Dry January) that kept the original’s complexity.
Meet the Chef: Newly arrived in Hong Kong, Phillip Pak left the heights of Aspen, Colorado in the middle of a pandemic to arrive in Hong Kong in October 2020 to take the helm at Zoku.
Jeng: The food and drinks are fab, there’s no doubting that. But really, it’s the service and attention to detail that puts this place over the top.
Not So Jeng: Frankly, there’s nothing to hate at Zoku. It hits every note just right.
Great For: Long, lingering lunches, breezy dinners, and sipping sundowners with incredible sunsets.
FYI: Zoku has a terrace, and while it’s currently empty, plans are underway to turn this into a go-to spot for drinks and bites.
Check out Hong Kong’s newest restaurants and bars here.
This writeup was based on a complimentary media tasting. The Loop HK doesn’t guarantee/sell restaurant review coverage. See our editorial policy here.