Eating Out: Sushi Heaven at Yamataka Seafood Market
Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market recently opened up an outpost in Hong Kong called Yamataka Seafood Market, a beautifully-designed Japanese food mecca situated at the Wan Chai Ferry Pier. The site has been previewed in the press for weeks but officially opened its doors to hungry diners earlier this month.
The market is filled with fresh produce, packaged foods and goods flown in from Japan. The restaurant’s various eateries are also supplied with seafood and ingredients from Japan and all over the world. There are many dining options to choose from once you arrive — check out the map on the right side of the hallway that you enter through — but it’s the standing sushi bar in the way back of the market that’s absolutely worth getting to first.
Surrounded by striking views of Hong Kong's harbor, the standing sushi bar is the kind of dining experience busy urbanites dream of. The line to enter moves quickly, waiters are there to take your order immediately and the sushi is made at rapid speeds before your eyes. Since there are no chairs, it’s tough to linger. But take one bite of that sushi and you may find yourself ordering again and again.
Since the Tokyo market is known for selling the best tuna in the world, we knew exactly what we were ordering: five different types of the best tuna of my life.
The bar serves saki pairings and bottles of umeshu (Japanese plum wine). Patrons can also purchase bottles of alcohol in the market and bring them into the standing sushi bar for no corkage fee. If you want to BYOB from outside Yamataka, you’ll have to pay a pricey corkage fee, so I suggest you just order an Iced Matcha straight off the menu, instead.
One thing to keep in mind before going here: Yamataka may say “market,” but you should really treat it as a restaurant. We originally visited to buy fresh seafood and ingredients to make sushi at home, but it becomes obvious quite quickly that the space isn’t trying to be a full-on Japanese grocery store. So go here to eat, not to shop. But you may be inclined to pick up a bottle of wine or some Japanese snacks on the way out.
At this point, you don’t need a reservation for the sushi bar or the other restaurants. I went on a weeknight and again on a Saturday for lunch, and the market was busy but not overcrowded. I anticipate this changing fairly soon, so go quick!