We’re big fans of Manuel Palacio and Christian Talpo, the duo behind Hong Kong hotspots including The Optimist, Pirata and pasta bar Pici (check out our interview with them here). Their latest Japanese-Peruvian spot TokyoLima has been the talk of the town since opening a few months ago, and with the addition of a new weekend brunch, the already buzzing spot is about to get a whole lot busier.
Touting authentic Nikkei cuisine, TokyoLima takes the Pirata Group‘s winning combination of good food, affordable prices and excellent service, and delivers it in one fun-loving package at this bustling, izakaya-inspired venue on Lyndhurst Terrace.
The place has been billed a late-night destination, but that’s really code for anyone wanting to drink and have a good time (read: sake brunch). Although there aren’t any windows, you won’t miss the lack of natural light in the cool space that buzzes with an electric atmosphere, helped along by the open kitchen, eclectic vintage furniture and lighting, and lively crowds.
We popped by during the first few weeks of the brunch, excited to try the latest offering. After settling into one of the comfortable aged-leather sofas, we kicked things off with the Flower in the Rain cocktail, a refreshing blend of vodka, lychee, Earl Grey syrup, lime juice, and rose lemonade.
The free-flow drinks package is priced at HK$180, which is great value considering the options include wine, beer, cocktails and sake. We paired the rest of the meal with a bottle of the Takizawa Tokuju Honjozo, sourced from Nagano and made with one of the softest Obsidian waters in the world. This gives it a pure and semi-sweet quality that goes well with the bold-flavoured bites on the menu.
The omacasa brunch menu is actually a pared-down version of the dinner menu, with dishes coursed out for you and meant for sharing. A selection of signature small plates and raw items arrive on every table, which means all you have to do is choose your hot dish from the following: portobello skewers, yakitora, grilled rump steak, tacu-tacu (traditional Peruvian pan-fried rice), grilled black cod (add HK$68), and lobster acevichada with chilli butter (for two to share, add HK$128).
From the small plates, our favourite was the T-3 Typhoon Salad, a rough ‘n’ tumble mix of textural, sweet, and savoury elements composing pumpkin, mixed leaf, poached quail egg, heirloom tomatoes, grilled fennel, crispy glass noodles and almonds — drizzled in a tangy Nikkei dressing. The dish could easily suffer from having too many ingredients on the plate, but the balance is spot-on, comprising crunchy and soft, tangy and sweet, and earthy vs. herbal currents that jolt and waken your palate.
“Ki-mo-chi” fried chicken is another popular dish at TokyoLima, and we were pleased to find it on the brunch menu, served in the same portion size as the dinner menu. Prepared with dark meat only, the tender chicken thighs are fried up Japanese karaage-style, boasting a moreish crust that’s been marinated in a spicy soy tare sauce. Dipped in the accompanying aioli, these bite-sized poppers are amongst some of the best fried chicken in town.
From the raw bar comes two selections: ceviche “clasico” and the “H&M”. The latter is a plate of fresh hamachi and tuna sashimi, dressed in a vibrant shoyu citrus. A sprinkling of Japanese shichimi seasoning on top gives it a subtle spice and helps coax out the flavour of the fish. The ceviche “clasico” veers more towards the Peruvian side of the menu, with fresh chunks of seabass cured in a traditional citrus-based tiger’s milk marinade. The acidity of the tiger’s milk is balanced beautifully with the addition of starchy Peruvian large-kernel corn, while onion and cilantro help round out the mix.
From the hot dishes, we opted for the lobster acevichada, and were treated to a whole beautifully grilled lobster, doused in a generous amount of sweet chilli butter to ramp up the taste of the fresh crustacean. A selection of sweet treats was an exciting finale — a shared platter of mango and raspberry sorbet, fresh fruit and a gooey, nut-topped chocolate brownie.
Overall, HK$398 is a reasonable price to pay for the excellent selection of food, drinks and service you get with the TokyoLima omacasa brunch. Service can feel a bit rushed at times with the courses already set for you (our dishes were whisked away as soon as the last bite was gone, and the next one brought out immediately after), but this minor complaint aside, we see TokyoLima becoming one of our go-to spots for a casual, boozy brunch on the weekends.
The food manages to excite and feel original and authentic, standing out in Hong Kong’s saturated food scene thanks to the talents of Peruvian head chef Arturo Melendez. With the friendly staff and infectious energy of the restaurant, we’re already planning our next visit in the not-too-distant future.
TokyoLima omacasa brunch is priced at HK$398 per person, plus HK$180 for free-flow drinks. The brunch is available on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from noon-2:30pm (drinks until 3pm).
TokyoLima, G/F, 18-20 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2811 1152