• Faye Bradley

Plant-Based Izakaya & Nightly Fire Shows at LKF’s Uoharu

Tokyo’s renowned seafood izakaya venue Uoharu opened its first location outside of Japan in Hong Kong’s Central district. Affiliated with MUGEN Co. Ltd., the eatery has garnered the attention of many locals wanting to try a taste of Tokyo in the city. Upholding a “less is more” ethos, the eatery stays true to its flagship roots, yet updates the menu regularly based on season and ingredients availability. We stopped by the izakaya to try some of the newbies on the menu, which includes Impossible™ Japanese twists and East-meets-West dishes.

uoharu cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Location


Nestled within the M88 building in Central, the eatery is conveniently located near Lan Kwai Fong and the district’s shopping and dining areas. Uoharu aims to covey an understated experience, as inspired by an authentic Japanese izakaya.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

The Food


Uoharu offers appetizers, drinking snacks, salads, robatayaki, à la carte, and desserts. Although it’s menu features predominantly Japanese food, there are notable touches of Western influences in the cuisine, particularly in the latest menu which we tried. There are also the newly-launched Impossible™ dishes, in line with the trending plant-based alternatives to meat and seafood dishes. We tried a bit of everything—the sashimi, meats, and Impossible™-infused dishes.

uoharu cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

First, we had the Baguette Toast with Cream Cheese & Maple Syrup. Served in a Japanese-tapas style presentation, the dish definitely leaned towards a Western-inspired sharing dish, using French fresh cream, Hokkaido 3.6 milk, mixed cheese from Japan and Australia, and the crispy, scrumptious baguette. This was surprisingly addicting and the cream complemented the maple syrup for a sweet, but not overpowering, taste. Plus, the baguette crunchy texture paired well with the soft cream cheese.

uoharu cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

The Caesar Salad was sprinkled with freshly-baked croutons and diced ham, with an onsen egg in the centre. We mixed it all together for a refreshing and flavourful dish, which, although not specifically Japanese per se, was delightful anyhow.

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

We always look forward to trying sashimi dishes. Uoharu’s South American Style Sea Bream was definitely more Japanese-influenced. Each piece was supremely tender and gave a melt-in-your-mouth experience.

uoharu cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

A Japanese mac and cheese is unheard of—or so I thought. At Uoharu, the Macaroni Gratin combines well-loved ingredients together in one piping hot plate—served with uni and salmon roe. Under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn’t have ordered this. But with the menu curated specifically for us, I was curious to find out how it would taste once it was served. And I was pleasantly surprised—the ingredients somehow worked. There’s always a Japanese-driven taste to the dishes at Uoharu, so it doesn’t sway too much in between. In fact, it tastes like it should be a Japanese dish, and with the light taste of gratin, it doesn’t taste empowering.


Impossible™ Izakaya

uoharu cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Along came the Impossible™ dishes. First, we tried the Impossible™ Gyoza, a dish that replaced traditional pork filling with the plant-based mince. For me, I could taste the difference—it wasn’t as flavourful as gyozas as I’d hoped, but it was still a great alternative for a sustainable-conscious effort. The crispy skin resembled closely the classic Japanese staple dish.

uoharu cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

The Impossible™ Tsukune was a vegetarian version of the Japanese, yakitori-style chicken meatball. Serve with a crispy green bell pepper, this dish closely resembled the original—the texture was just like a regular meatball and the sweet soy coating worked perfectly with the tender Tsukune.

uoharu cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

The dish which made Impossible™ a household staple is its burger, which has made it on the menus of many burger joints across the globe, including Honbo and The Butcher’s Club in Hong Kong (and many more). We tried the patty without the bun, and the result was spectacular. It was juicy and moist on the inside, and pan-fried on the outside for a barbecue-like exterior. Smothered in Sukiyaki sauce, this dish will be a fan favourite amongst vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

uoharu cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

The Drink


We tried two of the cocktails before moving on the sake.

uoharu cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

First, we had the Shiso Sour, a roku gin-based cocktail infused with shiso, black sugar, and lemon. The Japanese-inspired gin drink was well-balanced and not too sweet which we appreciated.

uoharu cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Then we tried the Yuzu Cooler, a Wa Bi Gin-based drink made with yuzu, karma cola, gingerella, and lemon. I really enjoy the taste of yuzu, so this would definitely be my future go-to. Then, we tried the delightful sake (by the glass), which had an aromatic, clean flavour to it.

uoharu cha siu papers times

Image courtesy of Mr Ping | Cha Siu Papers Times

Overall


Uoharu managed to surprise and delight us during our experience at the venue. The food offered a new take on a Japanese izakaya, focusing on modern alternatives from plant-based alternatives to Western ingredients and techniques. One of the main highlights was the unexpected fire show—an event that happens every night, but always captures the hearts of its onlookers. Having unique entertainment in an intimate venue makes the overall concept even more enticing. It was very popular, full house in fact when we visited on a Wednesday night. As the first izakaya in the city to offer Impossible™ on its menu, Uoharu caters to every diet, whilst staying true to its authentic Japanese roots.


Uoharu, Wellington Place, 7/F M88, 2-8 Wellington St, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2217 8880, facebook.com/uoharuhk