Restaurant Review: Honjo
Summary: Hong Kong's Pirata Group is back with a new concept in Sheung Wan, and business travellers to the Harbour City may...

Hong Kong’s Pirata Group is back with a new concept in Sheung Wan, and business travellers to the Harbour City may want to put Honjo on their list of places to try.

Hidden behind a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it doorway on Queen’s Road West, Honjo is a sophisticated spot housing a maze of designer spaces and (mostly) well-thought-out food and drink.

Style to Spare

Honjo’s interiors will appeal to any discerning aesthete, but it’s a little tricky to pin down the design philosophy. It’s part Art Deco and part Mad Men, with a healthy dose of global influence.

The Red Armoury features a full set of Kendo armour; the Blue Suite is kitted out like an old-school library; and the Safari Room is a luxe space with thick woven rugs, vintage Orrery chandeliers and wallpaper featuring a rainforest-inspired design. We’re in the Safari Room tonight, and while we’re gathered around a big table in the centre of the room, there’s plenty of booths around the room’s fringes that offer a little more quiet and privacy – these would make a good setting for a working dinner.

Details are important, and Honjo has certainly taken this to heart. Before the meal, wet towels are passed around so diners can clean off their hands; serving chopsticks arrive with each dish so germaphobe guests don’t have to use their personal ones; and to bring a little fun to the experience, we get to pick our own sake glasses from a curated selection of different styles.

honjo hong kong wagyu

Honjo’s wagyu carpaccio.

Modern Japanese with Flair

Although the menu here is inspired by Japanese techniques and flavours, you shouldn’t expect a traditional Japanese meal. While some dishes are recognisably Japanese, executive chef Miguel Huelamo infuses each dish with modern techniques and global flavours.

The meal gets off to a great start with the wagyu carpaccio, which is topped with chorizo oil, Asahi tosazu, crispy quinoa and chives; the dish has great flavour and texture, and we could easily have had another serve. This is followed by the chef’s selection of sushi and sashimi, where careful handling of the ingredients allows the super-fresh fish to take centre stage.

Another favourite of the night is the tempura lobster, which delivers on looks and taste and goes well with the equally flavourful charred corn which is cooked in miso butter, shichimi and parmesan.

If there’s one dish that falls a bit flat, it’s the whole chicken stuffed with rice, mushroom, pancetta, hazelnut and ginger roast sauce. While it sounded like a great idea, the chicken was a little dry and the overall dish is a bit bland.

honjo hong kong lobster

The lobster dish at Honjo.

Sake and More

As with most Pirata outlets, Honjo has a strong drinks list to pair with its menu. Since this is a Japanese-inspired restaurant, there’s a great selection of sake that runs the gamut from well-known brands to smaller boutique labels. Of course, there’s also a wine list that draws labels from across the globe, and a cocktail menu with a plethora of creative concoctions. The well-balanced Nomunication is a blend of Tanqueray No. 10 gin, Charles Heidsieck Champagne, lavender syrup and lemon juice, and though it’s strong, it won’t knock you off your feet.

Need to Know

If you’re looking for somewhere fun for pre- or post-dinner drinks and snacks, head downstairs to sister restaurant TMK. This dive-bar like temakeria dishes up hand rolls, sake and plenty of sass, and is a great spot for casual socialising.

The Last Word

Pirata’s got a great hold on Hong Kong’s restaurant scene, and for good reason – they seem to have cracked the formula for creating restaurants concepts people love, although the food and drink can sometimes be a little hit and miss. With Honjo, though, Pirata’s got a restaurant that delivers on looks, food and drinks.

See our other reviews here.

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About the Author

Gayatri Bhaumik

Always ready for her next adventure, Gayatri Bhaumik took her first flight
at 10 days old and hasn’t looked back since. After long stints in Bangkok,
Melbourne and London, she now based in Hong Kong where she's the Group Editor at Artemis Communications.