The Inner Sanctum: Honjo, Hong Kong  

This Charlie & Rose-designed restaurant serves high-end Japanese cuisine and unexpected Spanish flavours in an opulent and decidedly retro setting

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For some time now, Hong Kong hipsters have been gradually migrating west from the uber cool enclave of Sheung Wan towards more affordable real estate, followed closely by a gamut of new dining options that cater to their appetites. Kennedy Town became the new hotspot, leaving an unexpected blind spot in neighbouring Sai Ying Pun. Until now, that is, with the recent opening of Honjo ushering in a new wave of high-end dining concepts in the area.

While the name refers to a legendary ancient Japanese sword, you’ll only notice a smattering of references throughout the space. Housed in an unassuming building on the floor above sister eatery TMK (a casual temakeria, also by Pirata Group), entering the space feels like stepping out of a time machine into something from the last century. The retro vibes are deliberate but sidestep all the usual clichés.  The design concept, which is based on the home of a fictional person, has been adeptly brought to life by interior designer Ben McCarthy of Charlie & Rose

‘The concept is driven by a few of my own childhood memories,’ says McCarthy. ‘Being an 80s kid, my toys and cartoons tended to be Japanese. Tin Robot, Astro Boy and Speed Racer, for example, got me thinking about Atomic Age design — that sort of utopian, mid-century aesthetic, a bit like The Jetsons. This also informs a lot of the colour palette,’ he explains. 

The space is moody and opulent, thanks to layers of materials — walnut, velvet, leather, cork, brass and marble — and mostly bespoke furnishings. A series of interconnected spaces offers a variety of seating options, from semi-private dining to banquettes and communal tables.  

While chef Takeshi Suzuki’s menu offers all the usual trappings of an upscale Japanese restaurant, sushi, sashimi and tempura, you’ll also notice a few unexpected items influenced by Spanish executive chef Miguel Huelamo Estrada. The former biology student turned chef from San Sebastián has introduced new techniques and ingredients that make Honjo an innovative and unexpected take on Japanese dining.

Text / Suzy Annetta
Images / Chester Ong

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