CHAKO | Did someone say aburi sushi?
Have you ever had aburi sushi?
During my first trip to Vancouver, a friend brought me to popular spot Minami and introduced me to this flame-seared, pressed style of sushi. Seeing as I probably won’t be travelling to Vancouver any time soon, I was excited to see aburi sushi being offered at CHAKO.
CHAKO is a new Japanese restaurant on trendy Ship Street (in the old Bib n Hops space) headed up by Chef Suzuki who led the menus at TMK and Honjo. Now he’s bringing his creativity to this modern izakaya. In addition to aburi sushi, CHAKO specializes in grilled dishes using only binchotan or ‘white charcoal’ which burns with no smoke or smell.
So what’s on the menu?
We visited to try the CHAKO Signature menu ($595) which includes four small bites, three types of aburi sushi, six kinds of yakitori, soup, rice and dessert.
Japanese Fruit Tomato
Sweet Corn with Butter Soya
The small bites were all solid though perhaps not particularly noteworthy.
Salmon and yuzu, yumi mackerel, prawn with black truffle
Sushi time! While I was excited to try the aburi sushi, a friend was more cautious, commenting that she didn’t usually want sauce on her sushi (a purist!). After eating, we agreed that the sauces were done quite well. However I was slightly dismayed at the execution. While the salmon with yuzu had two layers of fish, the other two simply had a small amount of topping for a large chunk of rice (or a large chunk of rice with nori). It would have been nice to have a more satisfying bite.
Yakitori and Kushiyaki
All of the yakitori and kushiyaki were prepared well. Favourites included the bacon wrapped tomato, chicken oyster, chicken neck, chicken meatball with yolk.
Soup and Rice
We ended our meal with a bowl of chicken broth and A5 Wagyu Sukiyaki. On the menu, the Sukiyaki seemed like it would be a main course but was just served as one (albeit one large) bite. It was certainly a very tasty bite but I could have eaten a few more.
There were a few options for dessert. I went with custard mochi with chestnut ice cream. It was very well done - loved the tender mochi and creamy filling. And I’m now on the hunt for more chestnut ice cream… so good.
CHAKO has many things going for it. It’s in a great location, has a chic and fun vibe, and uses top quality ingredients. There’s potential for it to become a go-to spot but the execution of some dishes and the value-for-money could be improved. We’d love to give this one another try, perhaps for lunch or happy hour. Chef Suzuki is talented and it’d be great to see more of the CHAKO team’s creativity.
2/F, J Senses, 18 Ship Street, Wan Chai, 3590 2465.