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"Squid Center" Opens in HK, Serving Live Squid Delivered Daily from Japan

Fresh squid is served at "Squid Center" in Hong Kong

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Sprout Group, a company based in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan that operates a number of restaurants in Japan, opened its first directly-managed establishment overseas, the Squid Center, on April 15 in Hong Kong. The address is 22/F., Circle Tower, 28 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay.

The Squid Center is a Japanese-style pub (or "izakaya") serving raw fish―mainly squid―from ten restaurants in Tokyo and Kanagawa prefectures, including the Shinjuku main branch and the company's locations in Shibuya and Kagurazaka. Under the business model the company has adopted, it procures squid and fish directly from Japanese fishermen―rather than through Tokyo's iconic Tsukiji Fish Market―and offers them to customers with a top priority placed on quick delivery and freshness.

The Squid Center is meticulous in its procurement of squid of all types from across Japan: skewered yari-ika, surume-ika, aori-ika, aka-ika, sumi-ika and more. The company's target is to move 400 squid a day in Japan and 20 to 30 for export to Hong Kong. The squid for export are placed in special individual vinyl bags with sea water taken from near the ocean floor where the squid live and transported so as to avoid injury to the animals.

A squid tank is installed at the Squid Center's entrance. Inside is a 1,000-square-foot space that seats 54 people. Sprout Group assigned a manager from its Kagurazaka Squid Center to Hong Kong, who serves meals consisting of squid and other fresh fish. The restaurant's original seafood-heavy menu includes: live squid (HK$438-698), salted squid (HK$58), squid spaghetti and carbonara pasta with greens, both of which can come with a side of fried squid rings or squid tempura (HK$98 each), Hyogo Murotsu steamed oysters (medium HK$258, large HK$358), snow crab salad (HK$118), plus more.

Sprout Group President Kensaku Fujishima visited the izakaya when it opened and he is enthusiastic about the new business. "Fish is not about brands, but freshness. We'll compete on how much time we can save transporting fish from the port to our restaurants in Tokyo and onward to Hong Kong." He added, "If we can't succeed in Hong Kong then it'll be hard to do it elsewhere overseas. We wanted to compete in a place with many people who like Japan and have a sophisticated palate."

The Squid Center is open from 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. and for the time being only serves dinner.

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