0.5 Contemporary Japanese Cuisine & Bar

Date: 23 April 2013
Weather: Cloudy and cool with moments of glorious sunshine

  • Address: Shop B, G/F, 12-13 Shepherd Street, Tai Hang, 大坑施弼街12-13號地下B號舖
  • Cuisine: Japanese
  • Recommendation: Plum cod, cold udon with sea urchin
  • Average price range: HKD 400-500 per person w/o alcohol

A fairly new establishment in my favorite neighborhood – Tai Hang, a foodie’s haven. It’s definitely not a fine dining oasis, think more hearty, non-pretentious comfort food that won’t break the bank (well, at least not for most restaurants here).

Not many reviews on 0.5 but I decided to give it a shot anyway since a friend did say pretty good things about it. Besides, I heard that it’s by the same folks as No. 5 Italian and Go Ya Yakitori (both of which are located in Tai Hang and serve some pretty amazing food but those are stories for another time).

The ambience was charming and inviting, which got me quite hopeful about the impending feast. Although I did notice that there were at most 3 tables occupied during the 3.5 hours that I spent in there (I’m assuming it’s because it’s a fairly new place and it was a Monday after all, most peeps would probably choose to go home and mope about the Monday blues – that’s me on a usual Monday!).

The menu was priced in Yen (similar to the concept in No. 5 Italian except that they priced in Euros) and was very extensive. I spent a good 15-20 minutes studying the menu, trying to decide which dishes would make it to the order list this time. Price range seemed very fair – every dish on average was between HKD 65-110, except for some special/quality items.

We ordered (to share) tuna tartar, sea urchin and ikura on Japanese biscuits, gingko nuts, crab salad, simmered radish, beef on a hot plate, plum cod, cold udon with sea urchin and last but not least, chazuke (Japanese porridge) with mentaiko (spicy cod roe).

Tuna Tartar – one of the better tuna tartar I have tried, especially so since I adore runny eggs and ponzu dressing.

Sea Urchin And Ikura On Japanese Biscuits – a very cute dish but really it’s not difficult to assemble this at home. The Japanese biscuits were in fact just rice crackers. And for a sea urchin maniac like me, the sea urchin was disappointing because it wasn’t the creamy, sweet ones I was expecting but instead had a pungent smell.

Gingko Nuts – the presentation was like a piece of abstract art (don’t you think so?) and the gingko nuts were fun to munch on in between dishes.

Crab Salad – a more than decent salad with a fair amount of crab meat, I can’t complain.

Simmered Radish – I’m a big fan of radish but I wish the sauce could be a bit more power-packed.

Beef On A Hot Plate – I have my reservations on this dish because 1) it wasn’t quite what I expected (which mainly could be due to my not so proficient Chinese reading capabilities) and 2) the waitress who delivered the dish to our table just left it as it was, not very helpful at all, especially since my friend and I weren’t sure how best to cook the beef.

You see, there was a generous layer of vegetables between the tiny hot plate and the beef slices which made me almost panicky trying to shift the components around the limited space and place the beef slices in strategic spots before the sizzling hot plate loses its heat.

Plum Cod – one word, yumms. I love my cod so this dish was something pretty special. Instead of the usual miso cod, this time the cod was drizzled with a subtle tasting plum flavored jelly-like sauce. And OMG the cod. Every flake was moist and glided apart perfectly – it was a delicate piece of heaven.

Cold Udon With Sea Urchin – if you’re looking for strong flavors, this ain’t for you. As for me, I really enjoyed this dish. The cold udon in what tasted like ponzu dressing left a very refreshing take on my palate. The combination of the cold udon, the citrusy ponzu dressing, the nuttiness of the toasted sesame and the slight fishiness of the dried seaweed strips worked its magic. Pity, the urchin didn’t quite deliver the way it should have.

Chazuke With Mentaiko – well. Nothing spectacular about this dish but to be fair, I’m not sure if I have ever come across a life-changing bowl of rice in broth plus some topping. Have you?

Overall – the aesthetics of the food set a really high standard, but I wouldn’t say that the taste delivered on quite the same level for most of the dishes. The quality of the sea urchin used in this restaurant leaves much for improvement. Don’t get me wrong, the food isn’t bad at all, in fact I’m excited to make a second trip back because I have yet to try so many things on the menu, including the cocktails which sounded pretty fascinating (I had sake this time).

Do check this place out and let me know what you think!

Food – 7.5/10
Service – 6.5/10
Ambience – 8.5/10
OVERALL SCORE – 7.5/10

LOVE Mel

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