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REVIEW OF THE WEEK

Hiya

2018-08-14 18:13

I was in two minds as whether to write this review as I attended the first day of opening. However given the Edition brand, and full prices were being charged I thought it fair to do so. Hiya is a Japanese lzakaya-inspired restaurant similar to the now closed Sosharu in London. There approx 60 seats with a long bar that greets you as you enter and stunning views of the skyline. Seating is split into some comfortable lounge tables and usual upright ones for couples or groups. Opposite the bar is a spiral staircase leading to the Punch Room that given its splendor also lends itself to funneling the waiters and clientele through from the bar to the larger seating area behind. If seated close by you will forever be people watching and people watching your food. On a busy night you may consider seating outside the hotel and directly on Nanjing East, being less harried. While I’m on the topic of layout, the seating block near the window behind the staircase has some nuances in that the tables are back to back so the waiters unless having Ant-Man superpowers to alter their physical dimensions struggle to get by. You’ll likely get knocked a few times. However the tables do line up nice and central against the wall to offer symmetry over functionality. I was torn between my OCD & proxemics issues. Also to note are the pedestal tables, nice, stylish design but rock more than The Who at the Isle of White Festival. That aside it was the food I came here for (I’m a big fan of Japanese cuisine) so was looking forward to trying something different to what’s available elsewhere in Shanghai. I didn’t set my expectations too high as in the past I also visited Sosharu and although enjoyable I believed it fell short of its full potential and competition. Hiyas menu comprises of small dishes with sections dedicated to different specialties; Hibachi Grill, Tempura, Temaki, Sashimi. I started with Asian pear and avocado salad that consisted of aforementioned items along with radish and house made tofo dressing. The radish gives an earthiness and coupled with all the other items there’s a good balance of sweet and light sourness and mix of textures. Nice start to the meal. The Chirashi bowl, sushi rice and vegetables also gave a good balance of flavors and textures. The Tamaki’s (I opted for tuna and pork shoulder) both crisp and soft, the tuna is subtle but both do pack a punch. I found the shell to be a tad oily but didn’t detract from my enjoyment. The stuffed chicken wings hint of bitterness, taking the accompanying daikon offers refreshment but not before you’ve gnawed your way to the end of the wing. Karaage was tender, a light dry batter and side dips consisting of sansho, salts and chilli sauce that moistens the dish. Black cod, always a favourite dish of mine, nice and tender with a good char but a bit overly sweet. The sweetness needs to ease a fraction. There’s an extensive sake selection. Mostly comprising of Junmai, Ginjo and Junmai Daiginjo, which are all very drinkable but I’d like to see some robust options. Needless to say after all that I was more than full and the space between myself and the person sitting behind me had certainly decreased, much to the dismay of the waitress squeezing by. I booked the Punch Room and was heading on time for my reservation when I requested the bill. I was dutiful informed I should try a dessert. I’m not a fan of desserts (Commune being the exception) however being so polity asked by the waitress who was attentive the whole evening I relented and chose the Mille crêpes, Matcha Sobert, it’s a green tea-flavoured crêpe cake made of piled-up pancakes and was far too overpowering to end the meal. The cream that accompanied it balanced a little the matcha punch to the neither regions. When I accepted the dessert I informed the waitress I had made a reservation at the Punch Room and to let them know to hold it. She said fine, it would be no problem. I also reminded her again when she proudly delivered the green behemoth. Needless to say when I arrived at Punch 20mins later there was no room at said inn. They did offer compensation in the way of a free drink back at Hiya’s bar which I declined. Overall service was attentive throughout the evening, if a little over zealous at times as some plates were nearly removed before I had finished, but I put this down to it being opening night and over keen staff that were trying a little too hard. The soundtrack consisted of Motown and sixties classic that worked well. In all I did enjoy the evening however as with my experience at SosharuI feel let down, given the price point and competition elsewhere in the city. Will I be back, yes. There’s some good dishes on the menu but it won’t be a place I will frequent often. That aside I’m positive it will fare better than Sosharu given its location, stunning views and professional service. I also wish the team the best of luck, you can see the hard work and dedication they’ve put in.

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