I've always preferred sitting at the bar or "chef's counter" of a restaurant with an open kitchen. It's fascinating to watch the step-by-step process required to create each dish. I also enjoy the interactions with the chef or the bartender. You can learn so much about the chef's passion behind a dish or a particular ingredient.
Teppanyaki, which literally means "iron board - grilled", is particularly fun because every single course is cooked right in front of you on a hot, flat metal plate. There’s no silly tricks where the chef throws food into people’s mouths. Gone are the dramatic flames and other flashy displays done purely for entertainment.
This is refined, classy teppanyaki. It’s all about the food and how to best prepare it with limited tools – namely, just a huge flat grill and two metal spatulas. The ritual is intriguing, almost mesmerizing to watch.
In 2013, Lawrence Mok, the former executive chef at Inakaya and Nadaman, ventured out on his own to open IM Teppanyaki in Tai Hang (not too far from Causeway Bay and Tin Hau). The restaurant focuses on showcasing premium Japanese and local Hong Kong ingredients in the form of teppanyaki. The main teppanyaki bar area is cozy, with room for only 12 people. There is another private room that seats 8.
People come here because they like Chef Mok. He's friendly, respectfully, and very, very good as his craft (which he has been honing for over 30 years). He speaks multiple languages. We were visiting with some Chinese friends, and Chef Mok easily switched between Cantonese, Mandarin, and English.
The menu has several smaller lunch sets (HKD320 to HKD880), two dinner sets (HKD1480 and HKD1800), and a la carte options as well. We were told that the more expensive dinner set included more premium ingredients, such as using Hokkaido abalone instead of local abalone.
We decided to go for the "Omakase", which costs 1800 HKD per person (plus 10% service charge).
IM Teppanyaki Omakase
The first course was stunning and almost took our breath away. This gorgeous dish consisted of creamy Hokkaido uni topped with caviar and some flecks of gold. It was excellent.
One of the guests in our party did not eat uni, so instead they prepared a lovely salad of mizuna, tomatoes, and radish topped with crab, caviar, and gold. It was refreshing and very good.
Then, Chef Mok started to sauté live scallops on the teppanyaki grill.
I appreciated his minimalistic approach, letting the ingredients shine for themselves with very little use of spices. The scallops were exceedingly tender, and overall this was delicious.
Next was abalone from Japan. Although I've had the world famous abalone liver sauce from Sushi Shikon and Sushi Yoshitake multiple times, I had never really seen what abalone liver looks like. Here, with the chef openly cooking in front of me, I got to see - for the first time - that greenish organ. If you look closely, you can see a dark green circular flat coin-like thing in the photo. That is the abalone liver.
Chef Mok has his own way of using abalone liver, serving it whole alongside sautéed abalone cooked in a fragrant seaweed sauce. It was tasty, interesting, and fun (though hard to compare with the world most famous abalone liver sauce!).
The next course, Amadai fish with sea urchin cream sauce, was absolutely fantastic. We were extremely impressed with the skin, the most interesting and unique part of this dish. It was quite thick, almost airy, and super crispy. At the same time, it was not greasy at all, and the underlying fish was still amazingly tender. I absolutely loved the textural contrast between the crunch and the soft fish. The sea urchin cream sauce was rich, flavorful, and went well with the milder fish.
Next up, Chef Mok began grinding up some fresh wasabi.
We enjoyed a beautifully grilled crab leg together with the wasabi.
And then came the final course, a lovely assortment of grilled kabocha squash, asparagus, and mushrooms plus A5 Japanese premium beef.
I love love love fried garlic with teppanyaki beef (I first discovered it at the incredible Ukai-Tei in Tokyo).
It paired amazingly well with the rich, premium Japanese beef.
To close out the meal, we enjoyed a pleasant fried rice (cooked on the teppan grill) together with a bowl of miso soup and pickles (see below).
IM Teppanyaki - General Thoughts
I really enjoyed our omakase tasting meal at IM Teppanyaki. Chef Mok is extremely skilled at his craft, and it's a joy to have front row seats to watch him at his best. The dishes really showcase the natural flavors of these top-notch ingredients. The overall experience is relaxed, fun, and really enjoyable.
I've tried several Japanese teppanyaki places in Hong Kong now, and this is my current favorite.
Dinner is quite pricy, with tasting menus hovering between HKD1480 and HKD1800. I would be curious to come back and try the lunch, which is less than half the price but includes a subset of the dinner menu courses.
134 Tung Lo Wan Road
Tai Hang, tel: 2570 7088
This is the twenty-seventh post in the updated #50Postsin50Days – Take 2 Challenge. Other posts in this series will be added to the bottom of the original post.