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There’s probably no better place in Hong Kong to situate a Japanese izakaya-style eatery than in the warren of Soho, in Woodland House up on the steep turns of Castle Road and best accessed from the Caine Road intersection with Central’s Mid-Level escalators. There’s something of of Tokyo’s metropolis here, not least because HIGE Izakaya’s Soho premises and menu are pure sarariman heaven. A huge selection of drinks, naturally, line the walls of this cosy joint, decked out with booths in a traditional minimalist style. Order up a selection of charcoal-grilled dishes and raise your glasses – banzai.
HIGE Izakaya is curiously named – hige means moustache in Japanese and this restaurant tucked up Castle Road near the Mid-Level escalators at Caine Road is at once a very hip joint for Hong Kong’s trendy Soho set to indulge in some proper small-plate Japanese dining – with plenty of wine, beer, and sake to wash it all down – and a throwback to the halcyon days of the izakaya, days when you could find dozens of this type of eatery lining the alleyways of Tokyo. Keeping it seasonal, the menu changes regularly here, but you can always expect immaculate Japanese dishes when you drop in and dine.
At the time of writing, HIGE Izakaya was replete with matsutake or pine mushroom dishes. Flounder and Kagoshima Kurobuta pork are stellar examples of how standby ingredients are paired in this Central Hong Kong Japanese restaurant with the earthy fungus. Always beautifully presented – izakaya eating is as much about looks as it is about taste – many of the dishes at HIGE feature seafood that is flown in one to two times a week from the best fish markets in Japan. The sanma shioyaki (mackerel pike or Pacific saury) is given a simple treatment of sea salt, preserving the fish’s naturally rich, bittersweet flavour. Book now and take the hike up the steep slopes to Soho, disembarking the escalator at Caine Road and looking for HIGE’s distinctive frontage on the ground floor of Woodland House.