ZEST by Konishi: Refined Cuisine in the Heart of the City
Summary: Perfectly for business travellers looking for a captivating dining experience, ZEST by Konishi marks the return of...

Perfectly suited for business travellers looking for a captivating dining experience at the heart of Hong Kong, ZEST by Konishi marks the return of acclaimed Japanese chef Mitsuru Konishi from hiatus.

In a city with an ever-changing culinary landscape, ZEST by Konishi remains one of the most anticipated openings of 2019 – and with good reason. Mitsuru Konishi is a household name in many parts of Asia, with the Japanese chef having cooked at the likes of two Michelin-starred L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon in Tokyo; Taillevent in France (where he was the historic restaurant’s first Japanese sous chef); and Hong Kong’s Wagyu Takumi (now Takumi by Daisuke Mori), which earned two Michelin stars during his tenure.

The chef has now made a triumphant return, continuing his relationship with the Lai Sun Dining group as he opens ZEST by Konishi, an elegant two-concept eatery inspired by the chef’s travels and experience.

Tucked away on On Lan Street, Konishi’s new concept is a culinary hideaway high above the chaos of the city. Guests arrive on the 29th floor where an elegant and intimate lounge features Art Deco-esque accents in turquoise and powder blue, and a spacious terrace populated by rattan lounges. Ideally suited for business gatherings or intimate catch-ups, The Lounge officially opens next month and will serve bento boxed power lunches during the day and Nippon-inspired cocktails after dark.

Zest by Konishi

However, the real show takes place down a narrow timber staircase that opens into The Dining Room. This is a stunning space of honey-hued Birch, polished stone, supple leather, carved facades, and an open-faced kitchen, where Konishi explores his undeniable talents while invoking curiosity and excitement with playful flavour and texture combinations. Catering to just 38 guests (including 12 in the private dining room, which is perfectly suited for corporate entertaining), the restaurant is the perfect canvas on which Konishi presents his philosophy of seasonality and elevated tradition.

A Triumphant Return

Our meal commences with freshly baked pain de campagne and brioche – made by a local bakery to Konishi’s own exacting recipe – which is matched with house-churned butter topped with soy sauce powder, green tea extract and Spanish olive oil. The salty hints of the butter, contrasted by the malty goodness of the bread, set the stage for a spectacular meal ahead.

Three amuse bouches follow; heavenly soft sponge cake is topped with grilled Japanese summer sweet corn, corn puree and savoury popcorn. In another curious mouthful, chi ayu, a seasonal Japanese moss-fed river fish, is encrusted with crispy rice, wrapped in shiso leaves, and emboldened with umeboshi, fermented and salted Japanese plum. Lastly, sweet Delaware grapes, crispy spring roll skin and chicken liver are layered on delicate Galette Bretonne biscuits. This is a great start – each mouthful is a journey it itself, a medley of contrasting textures, unexpected flavours, and yet, harmony.

A Symphony of Flavours

A true conversation piece, The Green Garden is Konishi’s brow furrower: the dish boasts an impressive 20 types of vegetables and herbs, some more obvious than others. This farrago of flavours includes celery root, fennel jelly, olive crumble, crispy quinoa, edamame, green asparagus tips, fresh dill, marigold, and mustard greens, as well as micro herbs sourced from organic farms in the New Territories. The flavours are bound by an earthy yet subtle injection of shiso pesto, a dash of citrus, and a drizzle of clear Australian romaine tomato extraction, which lends sweetness to a visually captivating dish. Whoever thought salads could be sexy?

Zest by Konishi

The next course couldn’t be more different. Konishi braises Australian abalone in sake and Kombu (Japanese kelp) to create an al dente texture and enhanced flavour, before pairing it with boiled pearl barley, slow-cooked Chinese cabbage, and abalone liver foam. Gone is the rubbery texture of the abalone, replaced instead by succulent flesh mellowed by the grain and spiked by the ginger-laced foam, which alleviates the inherent richness of the prized mollusk.

Something More Substantial

Konishi continues to play with texture in the first main dish, black-throated sea perch from the Sea of Japan, a delicate fish revered in Japan, where it is called nodoguro or ‘white toro’. The chef offsets the delicate white fish with semi-dried enoki wrapped in sautéed Chinese spinach, which tops a gooey walnut gyuhi, a mochi-like rice cake. The dish is tied together with an aromatic chicken, fish and clam dashi.

For something a little more substantial, French lamb from the Pyrenees is seared, roasted and presented with homemade eggplant caviar that has touches of shallot and garlic. I’m not usually a lamb guy – growing up in New Zealand will do that to you – but this dish is the kind that has you sitting back afterwards with a sigh. The lamb is pink and perfectly cooked, the plump meat balanced with a hint of heat and sweetness.

A Sweet Touch

Our final dish is a little more straight forward but no less effective: homemade coconut sorbet, lacking the usual artificial sweetness, counterbalances meringue and passion fruit cream, which in turn is tamed by slices of mandarin and pink grapefruit. Topped with edible flowers, the dish is ambrosial, and as good to look at as it is to eat.

As you can imagine, Konishi is using ZEST as a culinary proving ground, a place for experimentation and innovation, so the menu will change regularly – new additions include the Ping Yuen Chicken, the chef’s take on the Cantonese classic Eight Treasure Duck, with locally-sourced chicken, stuffed with lotus-wrapped rice, water chestnuts and foie gras, and smoked over a fragrant bed of sage rosemary and thyme.

Zest by Konishi


In a city whose culinary scene has fallen rather flat of late, ZEST by Konishi tells the story of a chef’s own journey, with cuisine that showcases both his learned precision and technique, and his playful, understated nature, to perfection. The nine-course degustation menu is priced at HK$1,380++ (US$176) per person, with paired wine for an additional HK$780 (US$99) per person.

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About the Author

Nick Walton

Nick Walton is Group Managing Editor of Artemis Communications, a leading boutique magazine and content solution company and publisher of The Art of Business Travel. A former travel editor of the South China Morning Post, he heads up the group's travel and lifestyle magazines, which include Alpha Men Asia, The Edition, Mirandus, Ikhlas, The Journal and Explorer Magazine.