Hong Kongers love traveling to Japan. During the pandemic when the border between Japan and Hong Kong was all but effectively closed, demand for Japanese restaurants, especially high-end ones, shot up in Hong Kong. All of a sudden, it was impossible to book any nice Japanese restaurants. In fact, during the pandemic, more Japanese restaurants opened up to meet this demand.
Godenya is one of the hardest Japanese restaurants to book in Hong Kong. For us, the only reason we were able to try it is that some kind friends of ours had made a booking early early on, and invited us to come. They also explained that they were surprised they didn’t have to wait 6 months to get a booking . . . Perhaps the border to Japan re-opening has something to do with local demand for Japanese food . . .
In any event, we were thrilled to have the chance to try Godenya in Hong Kong, a self-billed "sake pairing restaurant" for the first time this fall.
The Sake Pairing Tasting Menu
Monaka Taiyaki "Sandwich"
We began with what looked like a taiyaki, those traditional fish-shaped cakes filled with red bean.
But this one was different! This was a savory version filled with monkfish liver, persimmon, smoked pickles, and baby shiso leaves.
The fish exterior was like monaka, so light and crispy with a texture not unlike thin styrofoam. The little “sandwich” was phenomenal. I loved it.
Sake pairing: Beau Michelle (Nagano) Junmai Nama Sparkling Alc.9% 2022-23 10°C.
The next course was truly a revelation: raw Kawahagi ( Filefish), chestnuts, boiled peanuts, arrowhead, and rice topped with Bonito flakes.
The mixture of textures and flavors was brilliant.
Sake pairing: TEDORIGAWA ( Ishikawa) Junmai Daiginjo Nama Alc. 16% 2021 22 13°C
Shirako + Yuzu
I'm not the biggest fan of shirako (fish sperm sac), though I am always willing to try it when it's part of a larger tasting. Here, shirako, zuwai-kani (snow crab), and chrysanthemum came served inside a yuzu shell with a liver sauce.
Sake pairing: SOGEN ( Ishikawa) Junmai Nama Alc. 16% 2021-22 42°C
Next was soba with karasumi (bottarga / mullet roe) with a dried spinach leaf “chip”, boiled leaf (2-ways), and lonburi (Belvedere fruit), which is similar to "poor man's caviar".
Sake Pairing: HOKEN ( Hiroshima ) Junmai Daiginjo Alc. 16% 2021-22 15°C
Eel soup with Syogoin-kabu (turnip), taro, carrot, and gingko.
Sake Pairing: TENON ( Shiamnne ) Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo Alc. 15% 2021-22 23°C
Hot baked female snow crab with tomato sauce, lily bulb, pine nut, and rice.
Sake Pairing: HIWATA ( Miyagi ) Yamahai Junmai Daiginjo Alc. 16% 2020-21 18°C
Lotus Root + Kinki Fish
Renkon (lotus root) stuffed with Kinki-fish, Burdock, and Sweet potato in a flavorful broth.
Sake Pairing: JUJI ASAHI ( Shimane ) Junmai Ginjo Alc. 18% 2009-10 48°C
Somen noodles with duck in a light, clear broth.
Sake + Caramel Dessert
Finally, a delicious crème brulee topped with caramel ice cream and pear. The showstopper was the intensely flavored homemade aged sake ("black like soy sauce") that they poured on top. It was not too different from a dark caramel flavor, and I loved it!
General Thoughts - Godenya Hong Kong
What a special meal! Coming here feels a lot like being transported to Japan, even if just for a few hours. The dishes are designed with care, full of creativity, and superbly balanced in flavor, texture, and presentation. I can very much see why this place is in such high demand. We very much enjoyed the exposure to so many different types of sake and types of sake pairing. I especially loved the dessert - what a unique way to enjoy sake!
The sake tasting menu is HK$2300, or HK$2100 for half volume sake. Reservations are extremely hard to come by, but there are random pockets of availability if you're to look far ahead.
All in all, highly recommended!
Godenya Hong Kong
182 Wellington Street (upper G/F)
Central, HONG KONG