Katsuhiro Ito's "TenSho" Japanese Restaurant Resurrected 4 Months Later as "Youka"

Katsuhiro Ito's

A sushi menu at "Youla"

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Four months after regretfully closing TenSho, the Japanese restaurant where Japanese chef Katsuhiro Ito showed off his skills, Mr. Ito held a grand opening for another establishment in Hong Kong Island's Wan Chai area on December 2. The restaurant is called Youka, which is Japanese for "the eighth day of the month." Eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture. Youka's address is Shop 1D, 35-45 Johnston.

Restaurants often close or relocate in Hong Kong due to skyrocketing rents, but in TenSho's case it wasn't the steep rent that was the problem. Rather, when the building where it was located got a new owner, Ito was told his contract would not be renewed.

Ito racked his brains over how he could come up with the hefty amount of cash needed to open a new restaurant on his own, but he was saved by his old Hong Konger patrons at TenSho. Ito's regular customers invested in the business for joint ownership. The food Ito serves up tastes just as good as TenSho's did, now revived in a slightly modern Japanese restaurant.

Despite facing a wide avenue, Youka manages to remain secluded, with no sign or big windows. It has a floor space of around 800 square feet. There is seating for 35 guests, mainly comprising four-seat tables and a counter.

Due to the good location Ito was forced to raise prices to coincide with the higher rent, so he decided to drop the name TenSho and go with a new one instead. He said he did this out of consideration for his clientele, as "it would be a disservice if my old customers heard the name TenSho and misunderstood that it is exactly the same restaurant." Ito does, however, use the same broth as he did at TenSho as well as the same kitchen staff.

In addition to using ingredients sent daily straight from Japan, Ito writes up the day's specials on the chalkboard, always remembering to add a seasonal flare to the menu. There are kaiseki courses like the Tempura Kaiseki (HK$550) and the Sushi Kaiseki (HK$980), along with a Tsukurimoriawase Platter (HK$680 and up), giving Youka's menu a more premium quality than TenSho's, but there are also more affordably priced items like tsukune chicken meatballs and chicken wings (HK$35 each).

Mr. Ito is enthusiastic about the new venture. "I want to keep on serving Hong Kong with real Japanese cuisine, rather than adjusting to the style of Japanese food that appeals more to the local palate."

Business hours are from 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and from 6:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for dinner.



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