For most of us, the thought of having an all vegetarian meal sounds boring and unsatisfying. Last month, half of foodbabyhk went vegan, so while in search a great veggie meal that would satisfy us, we stumbled upon Isoya.
As we exited the lift to the restaurant, the space felt homely and we were greeted by the owner who miraculously managed to find us a table without a booking on a Friday night.
There are only two dinner sets to choose from due to the intricacy and level of preparation, including a hot pot and the other a seasonal set. We both went for the winter hot pot set.
Hojicha was served promptly in a glass teapot with a bamboo lid and double insulated little tea cups (so cute I wanted to take them home!)
We were already impressed from the first 2 cold appetisers, a single beautifully presented peeled tomato with the entire skin peeled and structured to form a flower! Who would have known a tomato could be so beautiful and taste this amazing. It was juicy, sweet and savoury all at the same time. Even the perilla leaf it was placed on top of will surprised us. It had a very unique, almost floral flavour. Next to this dish was a small cube of cold tofu with a smidge of wasabi. Beautiful texture, very smooth with an extremely fragrant soy bean flavour combined with a hint of white sesame.
Next up on our huge list of food was the hot appetiser. A perfectly braised portion of Japanese pumpkin and radish. All very natural flavours, as you can tell its all about the quality and freshness of the ingredients sourced from Japan that make the dishes stand out.
We were just as excited for the next dish to come. Since this is a vegetarian restaurant, we wondered how would they create an original platter of sushi that isn’t just a cucumber maki.
When the platter was set down on our table, our first thought was that it looked suspiciously like fish.Upon closer inspection and to our delight, these sushi creations were all from vegetables! There was a mixture of grated radish, aubergine (eggplant), yellow pepper and the pink flower shaped sushi is edible paper flavoured with perilla leaf. Not only did this fool us into thinking it was raw fish but even the texture was close!
At this point we were starting to feel full but the meal had just begun! Our next 2 dishes were part of the grill platter which was asparagus rolled in beancurd sheet and pecorino peppers. I don’t think beancurd should be grilled as this came off quite tough and was difficult to bite into.
The second grilled dish was skewered gingko, but since grilling dried it out this was also quite tough and tasted bitter. Luckily, the purple sweet potato filled mochi saved this course of the meal. Crispy on the outside chewy on the inside and not too sweet a filling.
You’d think we were getting to the “main meal”, the hot pot portion of our meal now (so did we), but no…here came the tempura course! We could choose from tempura or oden so of course we went for one of each. So far there hadn’t been mush crispy or oily dishes so this was a nice variance.
The tempura batter was light and the tempura corn was very tasty, slight difference to the usual tempura pumpkin and sweet potato you can find in restaurants.
The oden was as expected, it is a popular Japanese dish with the 4 key ingredients consisting of a boiled egg, konjaku, radish and fried tofu (or usually fish cake) all served in a miso broth.
Finally we have arrived to the hot pot portion of our meal which came with rice or udon so we went for one of each. The hot pot was very generously filled with an assortment of Chinese leaf, spinach, Shitake mushrooms, Enoki mushrooms, konjac noodles and mochi filled beancurd bags.
By this point, we were both stuffed but very satisfied and finished off with a very sweet and refreshing plate of Sharon fruit (persimmon).
Verdict: Isoya provides an impressive vegetarian meal made from high quality ingredients and great variety of dishes. Perfect if you have a big appetite, as there are only set menus available to choose from. Even hard core meat eaters will be satisfied by this meal!
The timing of the service was very well organised allowing each dish to be served promptly after one another. The servers were knowledgeable on each dish when asked, however you may need to ask for the manager if an explanation in English is required. Would definitely come again.
9/F Wan Chai Road, Wan Chai
Tel: 5500 8812