Entering the “Japanese dining stage” at The Mon 一門, Causeway Bay

First review of 2013!  The Mon had been on my Openrice “to try” list for awhile, so I jumped at the chance to finally take it down.

Now, your customer service experience will start with the reservation phone call, and here they already started on the wrong foot.  My first call went unanswered for ages (despite the plentiful staff milling around as I later saw) and when I did get through, the guy obviously wanted to hang up ASAP.  Fine whatever, let’s get to the food.  Three of us came at 8:30pm on a Saturday.

signs

As usual, it was in a building packed with other Japanese joints.  The egg next to The Mon’s name is a clue we’ll come to in a bit.

door

This eerily-coloured sign greets you upon entry.

inside

The traditional wooden interior typical of many other izakaya (居酒屋) in this town.

Fast forward to the food arriving part!

egg

Everyone gets one of the egg (厚燒玉子) dishes when coming here.  In fact another friend said it was the only thing worth getting.  We got the “omelette with cheese” (芝士厚玉子)($50), and it met expectations.  Warm, smooth and blending nicely with the cheese.  My friend added a dash of Japanese soy sauce and it was good that way too.

chicken wings

Next came the grilled chicken wing skewers (雞中翼)($20/skewer).  It was grilled for about the right time but there really wasn’t much chicken taste at all.

ox tongue

Another staple of mine, as regulars will know – grilled ox tongue (燒牛舌)($28/skewer).  Many friends are turned off by the thought of this particular cut of beef, and I myself only started eating it a few years ago – but when done well, it’s amazing!  Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of those times.  Thin, chewy, not juicy and lacking flavour.

minced chicken

Grilled minced chicken (免治雞肉串)($20/skewer) next.  I haven’t eaten too many of these so my base for comparison is kind of shallow.  The slight crunch of the cartilage gave a satisfying texture.  Bit dry but overall alright.

chicken

Here we have the grilled chicken steak with balsamico sauce (燒雞扒 – 黑醋風味)($78), or as we know it, balsamic vinegar (意大利香醋).  Quite ordinary as most of the flavour came from the vinegar.  By the way, as you can tell, my friend likes chicken.

toyo roll

This toyo roll (東洋卷)($55) was a last minute addition based upon a quick flick of Openrice beforehand, and it paid off!  Thin, eggy pancake encasing supple avocado, crunchy crab roe and a tasty slice of eel, combining to form a rare, beautiful creature.

pork cutlet

As a second round add-on, we topped up with a “deep fried pork chop” a.k.a. pork cutlet a.k.a. tonkatsu (炸豬扒)($78).  Tender enough on the inside, this was another OK dish to fill you up.

Onto the service.  The staff seemed to have a ritual where, maybe on the 123rd customer of the night, all hands on deck would yell the typical pseudo-Japanese welcome phrases.  Atmospheric, but shocking the first time as it tears through the whole restaurant and everyone looks up for a second.  Another thing, and this is normally good, is that there are plenty of waiters.  The flip side is that even this doesn’t mean your teapot is refilled with any urgency, until the same guy waltzes by your table a few times and finally notices.  Also they chat happily amongst themselves but drop the smiles when actually dealing with customers.  Hmm.

Another downer is the lack of free tea, although $28 for a pot of bottomless green tea wasn’t too ridiculous.

Total bill was $512 total or $171 each.  Reasonable, but a couple of good dishes alone isn’t enough to stand out from the million other Japanese restaurants in Causeway Bay.

Restaurant rating: NOM NOM NOM N- (3.5/5)

Address: 4/F, The Goldmark, 502 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay 銅鑼灣軒尼詩道502號黃金廣場4樓

Opening hours:

Mon-Sat 11:30am-3pm, 6pm-1am daily (official website)

Mon-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm, 6pm-12:15am; Sun: 12:00-2:30pm, 6pm-12am (Openrice)

Tel: 2504 3313

Web: official website, Openrice English, Openrice 中文, Hungry HK review

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