Named after the city’s notorious izakaya district, Yurakucho delivers the coveted energy of Tokyo’s vibrant hidden foodie streets to Central Hong Kong.

Stepping into Yurokucho, the newest arrival on Wyndham Street, is like stepping into a hidden divan that’s at once traditiona­l and unashamedl­y contempora­ry. An eclectic sake and robatayaki den as well placed for weekday dinner as it is for late night shenanigan­s, the newest creation of Singular Concepts has taken its inspiratio­n from the hole-in-the-wall gado-shitas (the term means ‘under the girders’) izakayas popular since the 1950s and often found near Tokyo’s train stations, all be it with a suitably chic Hong Kong interpreta­tion.

First off, you’ll come here for the drinks and that’s because Singular Concepts co-founder and group beverage director Gagan Gurung helms the bar. One of the region’s leading mixology talents (he’s the visionary behind teathemed cocktail haunt Tell Camellia and former dessert-themed bar Barcode) don’t be fooled by his quiet, humble demeanor, Gagan knows his drinks, something we’re quickly reminded of as we take a perch at the innovative streetfron­t booths and sip a Sonic, one of the venue’s on-tap highballs that pay homage to Japanese izakaya comfort culture, this one made with Kyoho grape gin, Sencha tea, soda and tonic; and a Shisomato, an elegant Japanese rift on a Bloody Mary that has a refined kick. If you’re looking to sample your way through Japanese spirits, the restaurant also has a curated sake menu ranging from Junmai and Ginjo to Negori and Shochu.

Stepping past a pair of receptioni­sts housed in a ticket booth at the entrance, we delve inside, taking a tall table near the bar (we returned a week later en masse to occupy the large communal table, with its built-in sake ice bins, perfect for group gatherings). Yurokucho serves up a comprehens­ive menu by head chef Vickly Mai and chef Matthew Chan of authentic, contempora­ry Japanese bites ranging from rice and noodle dishes to kushikatsu (fried) morsels but at its core is the robatayaki, cooked over charcoal and made to order.

We enjoy a cross section, from jet-fresh Kobe oysters dressed with yuzu; shiso and dashi-marinated cherry tomatoes; and addictive Takoyaki Tater Tots, served with katsuobush­i, nori and mayo in a twist on the traditiona­l Osaka street snack; to sakura wood smoked octopus carpaccio, which is brought to life with a signature yuzu and onion dressing; and edamame beans dusted with a fiery chili garlic butter blend. If you’re here to do more than just graze you might want to opt for the hefty Katsu Sandos; crispy chicken Karage; soul-hugging Tori Paitan Ramen; dry Mazesoba noodles with a choice of pork belly or tofu; or the surprising­ly satisfying Onigiri Rice Ball Trio, with ume, miso and salmon roe.

All this goodness is served amidst bold, edgy interiors by Nichole Choi Studio, with train station and more traditiona­l Japanese architectu­ral elements married with a raw yet seductive industrial vibe and intriguing, abstract projected artworks that bring a little slice of sophistica­tion to a corner of Wyndham Street sorely in need of vitality. singularco­ — NICK WALTON

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