Cover Chef Hirofumi Chiba at work (Photo: Sushi Mamoru)

Led by a third-generation sushi master, this new opening is set to become one of the most exclusive omakase experiences in town

Better known for bold and brash concepts like Wagyumafia and La Rambla, the Leading Nation hospitality group has gone left-field with its latest opening, Sushi Mamoru. Now taking reservations from its location in Wan Chai, it follows closely on the heels of Margo, but differentiates itself from the rest of the group's offerings for its strict adherence to history and tradition, in the same vein as the many generations-old sushi temples found in Japan.

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Mamoru—which translates as 'to protect' in Japanese—makes its intentions clear from the outset with the appointment of chef Hirofumi Chiba at the helm. A third-generation sushi master with 22 years of experience under his belt, the native of Yamagata Prefecture grew up in his grandfather's sushi restaurant, but began his career in earnest with a full decade of apprenticeship at Tokyo institutions like Tsukiji Sushi Iwa and Zorokuzushi Minami. More recently, Chiba headed the sushi counter at the now-closed Central omakase restaurant, Sushi Kohaku.

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The self-proclaimed "fish geek" specialises in traditional Edomae-style sushi, and at Sushi Mamoru this translates into the 20-dish Takumi evening omakase menu, or the shorter Kiwame omakase lunch menu during the day. In what is essentially a comprehensive maritime survey of Japan's coastal waters, the Takumi omakase features primarily line-caught seafood from the country's finest producers: there are oysters from Aioi city in Hyogo prefecture, Bafun and Murasaki uni varieties from Yoichi in Hokkaido, donchicchi aji (horse mackerel) from Shimane, aka-mutsu (blackthroat seaperch) from Tsushima in Nagasaki, aka-awabi (abalone) from Ohara in Chiba prefecture, and more.

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As sushi fanatics will know, the rice, or shari, in a sushi is oftentimes even more important than the topping, and in this regard, Chiba has opted for hand-blended aged Hokkaido rice for his creations. Meanwhile, the wasabi is directly sourced from the Shizuoka farm of Keiichi Tashiro. Vegetables, where they appear, are sourced from Leading Nation-owned farms in the New Territories.

At only 12 seats—eight at the bar and four in a private room—Mamoru is an exclusive dining experience from the get-go. Reflecting the rarefied food on offer is the minimalist, sanctuary-like space designed by Hong Kong firm M.R. Studio, with a predominance of Japanese hinoki and ginkgo wood throughout.

Sushi Mamoru is now open and serving lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday.

Sushi Mamoru, G/F, 32 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

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