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.