There's no English-language sign outside this sleek Japanese restaurant; look for the fabric-covered doorway opposite the HSBC building on Claymore Hill. Inside, there are counters made of hinoki wood and elegant, kimono-clad servers. The beautifully presented cuisine here includes sukiyaki (skillet-grilled beef and veggies), shabu shabu (hot pot), and sake sherbets; Aoki also presents kaisekis (formal banquets). Fish is flown in from Tokyo's huge Tsukiji fish market four times a week.
Jul 20, 2011
Was very much looking forward to dining here after reading the great reviews. The only table available was the counter so we gladly accepted. When we arrived at about 12:20 for our 12:30 reservation, only two other parties were at the counter. We were placed in the middle by the sink. Hoping to sit a bit off to the side, we requested the corner seat which was empty at the time. The waitress said she would check with the reservation staff who came
back with a no, saying it was booked. I said I didn't know I could request a particular seat on the counter and she said they reserve it for 3-4 people. At this time, I wish I could have recorded the clearly annoyed faces of the chefs behind the counter like Ramsay's secret diner does. Really guys? Is it that hard to be a little flexible and service oriented? To not give your customers dirty looks as they try to politely optimize their dining experience? When the corner was eventually filled, there were only two diners unlike the 3-4 the waitress said hold the corner for. Needless to say, this simple inability to take care of the customer put a dark cloud over the entire meal... We ordered the lunch set 9 piece sushi and Chirashi. My order and another customer's order (incidentally the one on the corner) came quite a bit earlier than our respective partner's dishes so we were left waiting for some time before we could begin. I found my $50 sushi selection to be okay only. For the premium lunch special, I found it hard to believe they'd have squid, 2 omelette and Tai in the selection. My wife enjoyed her Chirashi but I found the small cubed pieces of premium fish to be a bit of a waste, inevitably causing you to mix many different types of fish into a single bite, defeating the purpose of seeking out fresh, quality sushi/sashimi. Also, I noticed the fish selection for the same dish of guy next to me to be very different! Dessert came with an interesting plum gelatin, custard and a third item which I can't recall. While everything was pretty good, I did notice that we were the only diners to get the small open plates while the other diners' desserts were served in a lovely box. Granted, my overall experience and the lens through which I viewed the food must be tempered by my initial experience, I believe it's the little things that separate restaurants at this level and Aoki definitely fell short.