For the first time since arriving in Hong Kong, the air was completely free of humidity. On this particular Friday afternoon the sun had pierced through the clouds with a pleasant warmth. One could be forgiven for thinking this was late spring in London.
The walk to the restaurant involved all manner of shortcuts – it saw us pass notable establishments such as Hooters and the not-so-exclusive members bar “Le Jardin” (spend 24 hours in Hong Kong and you’ll know what I mean). The restaurant itself seemed to lack any street presence – understandable given it was situated on the second floor of a nondescript building.
As you exit the lift, you will duck beneath some auspicious curtain cloths to enter the restaurant. The first thing you will see to your left is the sushi counter, manned diligently by two sushi chefs. Immediately ahead you can peer through large glass windows, thusting upon you a familiar yet distinctly unique perspective of Hong Kong.
There is something calming about this venue, but you will struggle to put your finger on it. Being seated is like stumbling through a familiar dream, disoriented but completely at ease.
My colleagues all agreed that this was the type of venue you could sit all afternoon, chat for hours about nothing in particular as slithers of sunlight ricochet off your table and be filled with utmost content.
The set menu tends towards the more expensive end of what you might expect, but this thought will quickly dissipate with the knowledge it is being prepared by a bona fide sushi chef.
Half of us decided on the sashimi lunch set. It arrived with an entrée of fish, unlimited tea, the “Chef’s Dish of the Day”, rice and was followed by creamed coffee.
The bite-sized entrée consisted of slices of cold soy-marinated fish, and was served with pickled burdock root (for the unitiated, it tastes somewhat like sinewy pasnip). The combination of flavours worked well.
The Dish of the Day was beef tendon. This was served warm in a flavoursome jus. The tendon was very soft and easy to eat, and had a slightly quaint sticky texture. I readily confess to not being the biggest tendon fan, which possibly explains why I thought this lacked flavour.
The pièce de résistance was a large plate of artisanally prepared and presented sashimi. Closer inspection revealed the craftsmanship of a skilled sushi chef who knows his/her way around a set of knives. The fish was accompanied by a lively mix of seaweed.
The flavour of the dish was enhanced in almost every regard by the light soy sauce. Coarsely ground wasabi added a distinct and earthy tang. The sticky rice filled any remaining hole my stomach (which you can ask to be refilled).
Xuan Sushi is an excellent sushi restaurant with a fantastic vibe. Hard to ignore, especially for a longer lunch on a Friday afternoon.