New menu review: Vegetarian sushi at Kyoto Joe, Hong Kong
A new 'Green Wednesday' menu at popular Lan Kwai Fong sushi restaurant Kyoto Joe.
How have your eating habits been during COVID? At the end of last year, I really felt I was overindulging. Too. Much. Delivery. So in January I did a reset. I tried to eat clean for three weeks (no meat, coffee, fried foods) and came out of it feeling so much lighter and brighter. During those weeks, I tried a few vegetarian restaurants and also tried Just Egg and OmniPork. And you know what? I found I quite liked them! So I’m hoping to eat cleaner this year and am very excited about the various ‘green’ menus popping up around town.
Recently I visited Kyoto Joe to try their new ‘Green Wednesday’ all you can eat menu ($380 per person).
Kyoto Joe has been around for over 15 years but this was my first visit. They’ve moved into the 23rd floor of California Tower which of course means great views and light. The vibe is playful but formal enough that there were quite a few business meetings going on during my weekday lunch visit.
The Green Wednesday is offered for any two hours between 2 and 5pm on, of course, Wednesdays. There are nearly 30 dishes on offer, fairly evenly split among appetizers, robatayaki, hot dishes, sushi rolls, and agemono.
We tried the Spinach Salad and Spicy Vegetable Tartare. The salad was a well-prepared classic.
The Tartare was basically mixed vegetable tempura pieces mixed with a creamy, spicy sauce and loaded onto lettuce leaves. Not the healthiest perhaps but certainly tasty.
I’d definitely order seconds of both.
From the grill, we tried Kyoto Green Peppers, Tofu Teriyaki, Miyazaki Sweet Potato, Gingko Nuts and Mock Chicken. A lot but each skewer is manageable. While perhaps nothing stood out as extraordinary, for those that love robatayaki this is a great way to indulge at a good price point. And note that the mock chicken was tightly-wrapped beancurd sheets.
I love sushi rolls and was really excited to see what they’d come up with. My favourite rolls were the unhealthier ones like the Mala Roll (with vegetable tempura, topped with avocado) and the Edamame Tempura Roll (with cheese and a chili bean sauce). The Mexican Roll and the Spicy La La Roll both had softened jalapenos and were quite hot! Nice but perhaps best for those that really like jalapenos. And a couple of the other rolls were a bit healthy-tasting for my liking.
When the Cauliflower Tempura came out, I knew my thoughts of eating healthy were going out the window. I expected a few pieces but a large bowl of deep fried, sauced florets came out… but I wasn’t upset about it. These were absolutely delicious. I’ve tried a few vegetarian sweet and sour ‘chicken’ dishes in my time but they were all… not good. This is the most satisfying vegetarian sweet and sour dish vegetarian dish I’ve had.
We also tried the Avocado Tempura. As hot avocado can take on a bit of a bitter taste, it’s often served with a sweet-ish dip (like the avocado fries at Mrs Pound, RIP). This came with the standard tempura sauce which was a bit of a shame.
My dining companion suggested the Berry Beri mocktail ($58) which had strawberries, blueberries, apple juice and yakult. It’s not something I would have chosen myself but I gave it a go and it was great. A refreshing smoothie, not too sweet at all.
The restaurant forgot to put in one round of our order but I consider it a small gaffe. Service was generally very good.
It’s a bit of shame that Kyoto Joe’s Green Wednesday menu is only offered on Wednesday afternoons. If you can make the time, it’s a great spot for a long, leisurely lunch. Otherwise, grab some of the dishes (especially the Mala Roll and the Cauliflower Tempura!) a la carte during your next visit.
23/F California Tower, 30-36 D'Aguilar St, Central, 2804 6800