Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sagano 嵯峨野 - New World Millennium Hotel

  Sagano Japanese Restaurant has always existed within the previously named Hotel Nikko,  which has now undergone a name change to New World Millennium Hotel,  a result of its slight management re-structural change but somehow remains carrying the same ownership behind.   Although I have been to this hotel’s other restaurants since many decades ago,  including my favourite Les Celebrites with their lovely semi-buffets,  and the new Tao Li Chinese Restaurant which has seen some unnecessary but technically based Chinese and English name changes due to copyright issues with the previous Hotel management group  (a major Nuisance if you ask me, coz it doesn’t benefit anyone at all on either side),  Sagano still luckily remained as Sagano at its core and is still headed by Japanese Chef Masahiko Noka.   A friend asked me to tag along for a Media Sea Urchins Lunch and I was glad to come and start poking questions on why there’s all the sudden changes in the Hotel naming. 


Hijiki 鹿尾菜 - with some Konjaku Soba Jelly
Always a nice starter.   This is so common in Japan and usually served with grated carrots,  but outside of Japan,  for some reason this veggies combination becomes a bit neglected but luckily not here.  



Ankimo – Monkfish Liver
A Wintery fish liver dish and one of my favourites,  the French version of Foie de Lotte is usually served more irregular in shape, and this delicacy part of the fish doesn’t keep before it melts away,  just ask any Spanish and Italian chefs who also uses this fish for dishes..    Surprisingly the Japanese monkfish liver version is more rolled and always rounded in shape like a proper Torchon Gras,  a French technique.    It’s one of the oddities you encounter in life but no one pays attention to too much,  coz everyone thinks they know everything already due to egoticism and mental approach,  and they die that way happily ever after avoiding the question.   Sorry to say that is not my style but I always dig deeper and as someone conveniently said,  I can be a Food Snob sometimes lol.   If you are wrong,  you are always wrong.  You can always die wrong… But I would rather die closer to correct if possible as we all die one day anyway.  Sad smile   Here it was good but slightly too compacted dense compared to the norm.   ~ 7/10


Grilled Gingko Nuts with salt -
The rawer type that is grilled but still green in colour inside.   They already cracked the shells for each and everyone of them individual nuts,  and it was perfectly seasoned with salt.  Such a nice beer snack and takes a lot of effort to prepare it on everyone of them,  but since it was lunch time,  we had no drinks to accompany with these little morsels.   ~ 8/10


Kinmedai,  Toro,  Hamachi,  Botan Ebi Prawns -
Some seafood were sliced a little too thick to my liking.   But then again,  I can tell you most Hong Kong and Chinese customers expect more value for money so the thicker,  is definitely the better.    Reality!?   To Chef Noka,  can I just get 4 or 5 slices instead of 3 thick cuts instead?   In mathematics it just ends up as the same thing and I am not a typical Hong Konger person.   (Don’t get me started on Torque vs Horsepower in a car engine.  They are actually both the same but at different Calculations level...  Allow me to elaborate an example.  A Torquey Engine just means the Horsepower arrives in the mid RPM range,  rather than peaky at the top like most Honda Vtec engines except the K24 variety.  You want a balanced square bored engine or you want a revvy engine with shallower strokes?  It is always a balancing game in life..  Boring but not many understand this concept for some reason as it is pure maths.  I am not even a Food Blogger if you really am interested to know,  I just post whatever I wish and believe in. )   ~ 8/10


Russian Sea Urchin Gunkan Sushis -
Russian Sea Urchin Gunkan Sushi's.  Surprisingly very sweet and plump.  Not as huge & creamy as the California or Canadian ones.  Not as metallic or in your face as some Mediterranean ones.  Not as fishy or too subtle as some of the Chinese/Brazilian types.  Probably the closest tasting to Japanese ones and more so than the Tasmanian ones. (All comments above have taken into consideration the preservatives used, hence I didn't mention bitterness.)  Definitely an encore item..  ~ 9/10

Hokkaido Sea Urchin Tempura -
Suddenly we switched during this new Menu Tasting from Russian to Hokkaido Sea Urchin again,  this time wrapped in Shiso leaves.   Adorning the bottom was some fried Rice Noodles which is so China Town like but somehow I liked.   These were pretty tasty indeed in the flavours,  although I expected them to be slightly more crunchier.   But then again some Tempura styles in Japan are meant to be softish too.   Only the Frying Chef knows which intention they had in mind when cooking this dish ; )    ~  7/10

Grilled Scallop with Hokkaido Sea Urchin and Calamansi Lime -
I will kid you not,  but I actually preferred the Russian urchins over this,  for a reason.  The Hokkaido urchins are too subtly sweet and after blow-torching these, loses a bit of their very subtle sweetness…  However the Hokkaido Scallops beneath are equally sweet yet also subtle.  So somehow,  this became a good pairing especially with the Hajikami red ginger..  Hard to choose in my head.  ~ 8/10



Teppanyaki grilled Goose Foie Gras -
It tasted more like Duck Foie Gras in bold flavours and texture,   and served on under toasted bread.   This was cooked really well and memorable for its bold performance,  nicely crispy caramelized on the surface.   Bread was blah and dry but not toasted enough though..  ~ 8/10

Wagyu Beef Roll with Garlic Chips,  and Wagyu Steak -
Usually these Teppanyaki dishes are the tell-tale signs of how good a kitchen is.   The eggplant and both yellow and green zucchini definitely failed the test,  they were under seasoned and under grilled,  the Moyashi bean sprouts behind also flavourful-less.   The Wagyu steak was ok only for flavour.   On the positive note,  the rolled beef with fried garlic was really full of wagyu fat and meat taste.   This twins dish polarized everyone on the table..   ~ 5/10 to 8/10



Wagyu Rib Eye Teppanyaki -
I am known as pretty harsh and critical apparently,  but seriously,  for some reason the Rolled Beef version had more beefiness than this Steak version.   I don’t know why either…  I only report back as it is.  Even when it is a Lunch by Invitation.   The thing is I have eaten so much good food globally by now I would think I know how to judge fairly.   If I end up crossing up some PR’s with being frank then that will defeat the whole purpose of a Foodie writing about the food he loves the most,  sorry if I have to be posting just the way I like it.  I feel bad sometimes.  No one paid for my air tickets and meals to El Celler de Can Roca,  The Fat Duck,  NOMA,  Ledoyen,  Osteria Francescana and many more Michelin 2-3* restaurants in this world.  If you can’t cope with real criticism then I don’t care either.  Simple as that.  I am always happy to re-evaluate though      ~ 6/10

Assorted Tempura -
Once again the fried rice noodles appeared beneath the dish.  I personally think this is a bit too China Town.  At least the ingredients were big in portion.  Something you might expect at a Media Lunch but not sure it can be repeated on the next visit when we pay ourselves.   Consistent QC is always the best solution in keeping up with quality.  That bit,  I cannot control daily..!   ~ 7/10

Zaru Inaniwa Udon as an ending -
This was recommended by a fellow foodie before and also I had the same last time.   They are served iced cold and retaining their regional chewy and dry pasta/udon texture.   All it comes down to was the final boiled texture appearance and also the Tsuyu sauce dip.  All were done immaculately and as expected.   No big surprises here.  This is normal Japanese expected standards.  ~ 8/10




Price:  HKD $900 per Person (Meal was by Invitation to try out New Menu under new Hotel Management)
Ease of Access:   4/5
Food:   ♕♕♕♕ to ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address:  尖沙咀麼地道72號千禧新世界香港酒店1樓
72 Mody Road,  New Millennium Hotel,  1F,  Tsim Sha Tsui East,  Kowloon,  Hong Kong.
Ph:  2313 4215

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