The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A fun robatayaki experience @ Inakaya (ICC), Hong Kong

Hubby and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary last week. To celebrate, we decided to do something a bit different. It of course involved eating out at a fancy restaurant - after all, eating is one of the few interests we have in common. However it was not the usual fine-dining affair we usually do for special occasions, and in fact, it was a rather fun experience. Inakaya is a Japanese restaurant on the 101st floor of the highest building in Hong Kong, the ICC. The restaurant is elegant and gorgeous, and the main dining room offers expansive views of Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour. Although the main dining room serves a more refined menu such as sushi, sashimi and kaiseki, for this occasion we chose to eat in the more rowdy robata room. Despite having lived in Japan for 4 years, I'd never had a robatayaki experience before, and it seemed like a fun thing to do.

The best seats in the room - directly opposite the robatayaki chefs. Raw ingredients were laid out ready for the grill:

The centrepiece of the spread was Kinki (Hokkaido rockfish), also the most expensive food item in this room:

We were seated at a counter with a smorgasbord of fresh ingredients laid out between us and two chefs working the grill. We got the best seats, directly opposite the chefs - a benefit of making our reservations two weeks prior, I'm sure. Service was excellent, as to be expected from a Japanese restaurant, and the Japanese staff could handle English well (in fact, our waitress could also speak Cantonese!). We had fun practicing our Japanese, and one of the chef was tickled when hubby spoke Japanese! We placed our orders with the staff on the floor, who would call out our orders in Japanese and the chefs would holler back to acknowledge receipt of order. It was impressive that the chefs could remember the items we ordered without writing them down (and we ordered quite a few).

We ordered Imochoju (shochu distilled from sweet potatoes) and Umeshu (liqueur made with Japanese plum. The imochoju (HK$120) was smooth and surprisingly mild and easy to drink; the umeshu (HK$90) was sweet and pleasant to the palate:

When the food was ready, the chefs passed them out directly to us on long wooden paddles. This takes special skills and certain strength to do, as we found out later in the evening when we got a chance to try it out ourselves and see how many (empty) bowls/plates we could hold up:

Manganji Pepper (HK$120), a seasonal item:

Asparagus (HK$75) - delicious when salted and grilled as is:

Gingko (HK$80) is always a pleasure to eat:

Chicken Cartilage (HK$60) - surprisingly quite tender, with a slightly crunchy texture:

In the middle of our meal, we were treated to a mochitsuki (mochi-making) demonstration. This brought back fond memories of the very first time we watched mochitsuki when we first moved to Japan. That seems so long ago, and I really do miss that part of Japan!

Diners were invited to join in the fun, and here is hubby doing his part in making mochi for everyone. The mochi was sprinkled in kinako (roasted soybean flour) and served out to the diners. I forgot to take a photo of it before I ate it, but believe me, it was delicious:

Yaki-Onigiri (HK$20), soy-sauce flavour. Mmm, crispy salty crust and soft insides:

Kabocha (HK$75), served on top a generous mound of sweet Hokkaido butter. The pumpkin was very sweet, and hubby said he liked it better than the sweet potato we had later:

Scallops (HK$185) - cooked to perfection in a delicious dashi-based broth that was very umami. So juicy and succulent:

Prawns (HK$250) - large, sweet and juicy:

Wagyu Skewers (HK$280) - almost melt-in-your-mouth. Served with freshly-grated wasabi (surprisingly mild), grated garlic and a full-flavoured sauce (not pictured). We were instructed to mix the garlic in the sauce, put some wasabi on the beef, and then dip the beef in the sauce. When we'd finished the beef, the chef told us to dip the lettuce leaf in the sauce, which was a really good way to eat the lettuce:

Satsumaimo (sweet potato, HK$90), served on top a generous mound of Hokkaido butter. I love satsumaimo the best when it's simply grilled, like this:

The highlight of the meal: Kinki (Hokkaido rockfish, HK$1380). After much debate - hubby really wanted to try this but I thought it was too expensive - we decided to splurge because we are after all celebrating a special occasion. We savoured the delicate and creamy flesh, which I thought was almost buttery-flavoured:

Dessert was Matcha Anmitsu (HK$98), one of Inakaya's signature dish. I love matcha, so naturally I enjoyed this dessert. The ice cream, jelly, mochi and adzuki beans all combined very nicely in one glass:

In addition to the fun mochitsuki demonstration earlier in the evening, we also took part in the clapping ceremony when the chefs changed shifts. Here's a short video I took of the ceremony:

We had a really fun time inside Inakaya's robata room. We were there for the jovial ambience, and thoroughly enjoyed our time there.

[Prices quoted above excludes the 10% service charge.]

Shop A,
101/F International Commercial Centre
1 Austin Road West
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong


  1. wow what an experience! love the video!

  2. Hi Hannah, it was fun for a dining experience! Highly recommended if you ever find yourself in Tokyo or Hong Kong :)