Saboten is a renowned Japanese deep-fried pork cutlet restaurant chain with more than 500 outlets internationally. Its specialty? A simple, but classic Japanese dish that everyone loves. This Shinjuku-born brand opened its first store in Henry House with a plain, but aesthetically pleasing decor- warm light neutral tones with the classic Japanese wooden beams decorating the walls. The majority of the tables are booth-style, packed as efficiently as possible. It amazes me how a basement that size can fit and feed such a large number of hungry customers a day.
By 11:30am, 30 minutes before opening, a long winding line snakes around the steps leading towards the basement floor. Chatter fills and echoes around the staircase as families and friends alike eagerly wait for the curtains to open at last and the smell of breaded crumbs to fill the air.
When I first descended down into the basement, the air became stuffy and there was a strange odor that was musky and mouldy. Probably the humidity of Hong Kong, but nonethless, I wasn't feeling too comfortable. Seconds later a waitress appeared, clearly busy and slightly irritated and brought us to our table. Unfortunately, we had to wait quite a while until she came to take our orders again. I was quite taken aback by the lack of friendliness, but understood how each waiter was probably responsible for over 10 tables in the huge restaurant.
Saboten has a lunch deal which allows for a main dish from the thick menu and unlimited and refillable servings of salad, miso soup and rice. Quite a great deal considering most of the dishes are in the price range of $100-$200.
Salad and Pickle Appetisers:
There were two types of dressings available- Peanut and this vinegar-plum type of dressing. Nothing too special, but there was excess water at the bottom of the raw cabbage. The pickles were crunchy and good balance of sweet, salty and bitter.
Chicken Salad (Left):
The chicken was chilly and soft. Tasty dressing and green onion to give more flavour.
Seaweed Salad (Right):
Slimy, chewy, but fresh seaweed with a sour, but fragrant vinegar.
Shrimp and Deep Fried Chicken Combo:
Battered to the crispiest crunch, the chicken and shrimp were warm and tender. I particularly enjoyed the rich brown sauce and creamy sauces on the sides to give my flavour. Not too oily, not too salty- even though fried, I did not feel like I was indulging myself in junk food. I have never been too much of a fan of fried battered foods, but I can see why this is a popular restaurant allover the world.
Overall, the food was good, but the service and hygiene could have made the restaurant more enjoyable.
Address: Lower Ground Floor, Henry House, 42 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2895 4111