8/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong
+852 2520 5218
Those serious about Japanese fine dining will know the name of Kashiwaya, the revered Osaka-based restaurant that specialises in state-of-the-art kaiseki cuisine.
First established in 1977, the traditional Ryotei restaurant was opened by Tadanori Matsuo and taken over by his son Hideaki Matsuo in 1992. As the second-generation owner, Hideaki helped shape the restaurant into the beautiful expression of Japanese cuisine it is today, attaining three Michelin stars for seven consecutive years.
In 2014, Hideaki set his sights outside of Japan, pegging Hong Kong for the first international location of Kashiwaya. Located on On Lan Street, Hideaki has faithfully recreated the Osaka flagship, making the venue a tranquil destination in the heart of the city and a gathering spot for all lovers of fine gastronomy and Japanese haute cuisine.
From the get-go, Kashiwaya’s nature-inspired décor is quick to restore your Zen after a long day at the office. The welcome corridor is meant to be a meditative preamble for the meal, immersing you in Japanese culture from the dyed washi wallpaper in a unique pattern dating back 600 years to the clay pot vases and matcha bowls from renowned craftsman Shiro Tsuijimura. A bronze fish-shaped bell signals the start of the meal – a custom borrowed from Buddhist monasteries.
The complete sensory immersion allows you to focus on the meal at hand – and what an experience it is to discover. In the manner of traditional kaiseki, Kashiwaya’s cuisine speaks to the murmurings of spring, summer, winter and autumn. However, seasonality is just the starting point here, the foundation for an intricate tapestry of rare ingredients, labour-intensive preparations and delicately composed dishes.
As is tradition, the kaiseki meal starts light. There may be silky asparagus tofu complemented by sweet uni (sea urchin), heralding the start of spring. Or there may be soft pike conger simmered in a restorative broth with white gourd and bright yuzu flower. A colourful trio of sashimi usually follows, with each fish picked depending on the season, accompanied by nothing more than fresh wasabi and a dab of soy.
There are rare, hyper-seasonal ingredients that appear on the menu for a fleeting few weeks out of the year, such as young bamboo shoots seasoned with bright kinome, sweet figs served in an ethereal sheath of light tempura batter. And then the signatures: red sea bream dressed in apricot pulp, and puffer roe boiled in sweet sake, wading in a clear turnip soup. All of this is accompanied by suggestions from Head Sommelier, Maiko Tsuji, who will prepare an elegant sake or wine pairing to accompany each course.
A meal at Kashiwaya passes from one pleasure to the next, and before you know it, two or three hours have gone by in a series of epicurean highs that plant themselves in your memory one by one. If you didn’t know the name of Kashiwaya before, you’ll leave remembering it for a long time to come, having been one of the lucky few to experience the time-honoured style of kaiseki at its finest.