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, 14 February 2012

Mediocre Japanese @ Wanya Japanese Restaurant, Hong Kong

There are many things I miss about Japan - the people (especially my dear friends), the wonderful culture, and the food are just some of them. It's poor consolation to visit one of the numerous Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong, but it's better than nothing! We've been quite happy with the food quality and service at the more expensive types, like Zuma and Four Season's Inagiku, but disappointed with the only mid-range sushi restaurant we've tried (we will never set foot inside cheap sushi restaurants!). My foodie heart cannot deal with too many disappointments, yet our piggy bank is not limitless, hence why we've only eaten Japanese in HK a total of four times in the past year. Last Saturday we were keen for some Japanese, but after my original choice turned up closed for business, a quick search for nearby restaurants on Openrice suggested that Wanya wouldn't be a terrible choice for a mid-range sushi restaurant. (Lesson to be learnt here is to always be ready with a backup plan whenever trying somewhere new without a reservation.)

The sushi bar. Hard not to notice the low and exposed ceiling:

Wanya is located on the mezzanine level of the building, but to enter it, you have to first go up the escalator to the first floor then down some stairs, which gave the impression of going down to the basement level. The lack of windows and low ceiling inside the restaurant further accentuated that illusion, and this may not be the best place for a claustrophobic person. Service was a bit slapdash, but I get the feeling that the waitstaff have to be that way for that restaurant to run efficiently. The restaurant's main attraction is their all-you-can-order sushi and sashimi, and most other diners were there for this so-called buffet. The lunch menu offered an early bird discount of 30% if the bill is paid before 12:45pm, which suited us fine as we were there before 12pm and quick is best when eating out with a toddler. There were quite a few lunch sets on offer, and we could choose from raw seafood to tempura to grilled items. The manager informed me that some of their food is outsourced, which meant that nothing can be deemed safe for our son to eat due to his multiple food allergies. It's a good thing I always bring extra food for him, just in case.

Hubby's Unagi (Grilled Eel) Lunch Set included unadon, conch sashimi, chawanmushi (steamed egg custard), miso soup and salad. The chawanmushi was pretty good!

The unadon, close up. The flavour was good, but the texture of the unagi wasn't great, like it had been reheated (another outsourced item?). Something like this is far better when freshly grilled:

The conch sashimi from hubby's lunch set, which was quite flavourless and even I think it needed soy sauce (I prefer eating my sushi and sashimi without soy sauce):

My Salmon Sashimi Lunch Set, which included a bowl of sashimi items on sushi rice, grilled chicken wings, salad and teapot soup (not in picture because it arrived later). I loved the sesame dressing on the salad:

The bowl of sliced salmon, ikura (salmon roe), ama-ebi (sweet shrimp), tamagoyaki (sweet egg omelette) and uni (sea urchin). All the items were surprisingly not too bad, but I wished that the uni was much fresher than it was. The sushi rice underneath was a little hard and no longer sticky:

The grilled chicken wing was stuffed with surimi, which was an unexpected surprise as it was not indicated on the menu that it was stuffed chicken wing:

The teapot soup was a bit of a novelty for me...

...but fishing out the slippery items soon became tiresome. It was tasty, but I could detect MSG:

All in all, it wasn't a bad experience, but I wouldn't give any of the raw seafood to my 3-year-old (this wasn't an issue at Inagiku or Zuma). Lunch came to under HK$300 (after the 30% early bird discount), and honestly I wouldn't pay more than that for this quality. There are definitely much better (but pricier) Japanese food out there, and I think we'll just have to limit ourselves to occasionally indulge in the more expensive places.

Wanya Japanese Restaurant
Mezzanine Floor, New World Tower,
16-18 Queen's Road
Central, Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 2521 8807


  1. I have always said when we leave Japan I will so miss the's quality is out of this world and the service impeccable.I hope your family is doing well. We miss you here.

  2. We miss you guys too! One of these days (hopefully soon), we'll act on our promise to return to Japan for a visit :)