Saturday, September 24, 2011


Tonight we went out for Japanese in Wan Chai; to Woo Tung on St Francis Street. We'd been to another Japanese restaurant round the corner on Monday, but a combination of grumpy service and a need for novelty sent us to Woo Tung instead. After we'd spent a couple of minutes struggling with a completely egregious touch-screen computer display outside, somebody ushered us inside and up to the bar on the first floor.

The ground floor is just a series of tables, whereas on the first floor the cooks are busily making up food, with you only a foot away from them. Yakiniki is a miniature barbecue - we were given a large stone pot full of charcoal with a wire grill over the top, and then we got to put the food we'd ordered onto it and hoped that we didn't burn it all.

I think we over-ordered - I was expecting a yakitori sized portion, where you'd get a mouthful of each item you requested and not much more. Instead, "aubergine" here meant the entire aubergine, and onion rings meant ... well, an onion, sliced into rings. I began to regret ordering a bowl of udon as well, but then I needed to be loading up with starch for tomorrow's 20 mile run. So between that and the green onions and the edamame (drenched in oil and black pepper, which was an impressive upgrade from the norm) I was struggling by the end.

Wifey, on the other hand, had ordered a simply beautiful piece of mackerel. When this was brought out from the fridge, we spent a couple of minutes just marvelling over the tiger-striped blue skin of the lump of meat - it looks really, really lovely. The restaurant is really lovely too though - the bar is a single long piece of wood that stretches almost the whole length of the room (did they have to get it in through the window? The stairs take two turns to get from the street to the bar, so that would not have been much fun), there's a couple of vaguely disconcerting paintings on the wall behind the chefs, and, well, there's the hard-to-overstate joy you get from watching a group of kitchen staff rapidly assemble a selection of complicated Japanese dishes to send down to the ravenous people on the floor below.

On the other hand, you might think that somebody has figured out a cunning trick here - I remember in the old days you went to a restaurant and the chef cooked the food you ordered. You didn't faff around with things that were on fire and tried to guess the optimal cooking time. It's not as if we value restaurants where you wash the dishes up yourself, now is it?

And with that, it's late, so I'm off to bed, where my dreams will no doubt be derailed by me harrumphing about how things aren't like they were in the good old days. Grumble grumble.


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