If you’re a fan of The Yuu, you should find the interior and the menu at E-Pai quite familiar. This should be no surprise since both restaurants belong to King Parrot Group. With the dark wood décor and the menus hanging on walls, E-Pai almost feels like a traditional izakaya in Roppongi, Tokyo. Diners can choose to dine at the teppanyaki table, the sushi bar or the normal dining tables. We opted to sit in front of the teppanyaki chefs to enjoy their culinary show.
We started the meal with several grilled items. The fresh gingko nuts ($38) have a bit of chew and a delicate flavour enhanced by the sea salt. The grilled ox-tongue ($25) is equally tasty, succulent and marbled with fat. The grilled eel ($25) arrives moist, with a dry and crispy skin. Unfortunately, the eel still carried a strong fishy taste that even the salt seasoning couldn’t eliminate.
We also tried the E-Pai kansai-yaki ($58) – an Osaka-style savoury egg pancake loaded with beef tendons, mushrooms and cheese, among other things. As a signature dish, this was a let-down – the texture of the cake is too runny and the barbecue sauce used is overly sour, tasting like a supermarket product rather than a homespun offering.
Thankfully, the beef yaki ($68) fared a lot better. The meat is thin-cut with a juicy, fatty texture and intense beefy flavour that is further enhanced by cooking with spicy miso. We also ordered the rice with tea and plum ($50). Although the rice is not from Japan, it’s still cooked very well to deliver a soft yet still slightly al dente texture. Paired with an appetite-inducing sour plum and a tasty seafood soup, we polished off the rice in no time.
When we left the restaurant after our meal, there were still around 20 people waiting outside the door. Obviously, this is exactly the kind of Japanese eatery the Kwun Tong crowd was longing for.
When you talk about the Dining Concepts restaurant group, the first thing that comes to mind is steak. And plenty of it too. Recently, they’ve opened up yet another new outlet in Times Square, offering steak done the traditional Italian way.
To start, we ordered the baked eggplant with mozzarella and tomato ($98). The three classic ingredients are served sizzling hot in a cast iron casserole, seasoned nicely by fresh leaves of basil. The aubergines are baked until they become meltingly tender with the stretchy mozza cheese adding a lovely dimension to the wonderful appetiser. Next up, roasted veal marrow ($158) is served together with sliced toast on an iron plate. As a marrow lover, I couldn’t wait to greedily scoop the runny bits out of the bone and slather them onto the crisp pieces of toast. Unfortunately, the marrow was lacking a pinch of sea salt, which could’ve elevated the dish to a whole different level.
Of course, steak is a must here and we decided to go with the pure wagyu sirloin ($688). Ordered medium rare, the 11oz meat from Oakleigh Ranch, Australia, was grilled just right with a lovely, crusty char on the surface that yields to a moist and bloody red centre. The marbling on the wagyu provided a flavourful taste and an extremely tender and near melt-in-the-mouth texture. All beef lovers should be satisfied with this steak. We tried the top sirloin rump ($178) as well – a select US Department of Agriculture angus that was a bit chewy and rough, but still provided a juicy and tasty meat flavour.
We opted for the olio d’oliva cake ($68) to end the meal since we were told that it was one of the restaurant’s most popular items. The orange cake has a nice spring to it but, unfortunately, doesn’t carry much citric fruit flavour. Luckily, the hazelnut praline made up for that, and the rich and smooth chocolate ice cream on the side was also a crowd pleaser.
Being a steakhouse, the beef selection here is relatively inadequate with only eight choices provided on the regular menu. We were told that the restaurant will be adding more choices later on and we’ll definitely come back for a taste when that happens.