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Hoko: Japanese detail and perfection at the table for Valentine’s Day

Sunomono Unagui, Salmon and truffle carpaccio, Taco Sakana, Crispy Shrimp, Chicken and vegetable Gyosa, chef’s special Moriwase and the house’s famous preguinho is the Braga restaurant’s proposal for Saint Valentine’s Day

Simple but meaningful gestures often take on greater meaning in Japanese culture than words as conclusive as aishiteru (I love you, in a simple translation), a concept that in declarations of love can take on an infinite number of nuances. As a fan of precise gestures, those that reflect attention to detail and perfection, Hoko – Sushi Bar, in Braga, also sought to simplify life for lovers who don’t forget to celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day at dinner and opt for a special menu. Everything to make life easier for couples when choosing from the multitude of delicacies that the restaurant prepares.

Hoko’s proposal, which practices cuisine faithful to the Japanese gastronomic heritage, but with enough creativity, includes a selection made up of Sunomono Unagui (Japanese cucumber salad, vinegary, with freshwater eel), Salmon and truffle carpaccio, Sakana Taco (white fish and guacamole, among other ingredients), Crispy Shrimp, Gyosa (thin pastry) with chicken and vegetables, Moriwase (combination of the finest fish cuts of the day) chef’s specials, the house’s famous Japanese Preguinho and a dessert of your choice. The suggestion has a value of 75 euros per person.

Decorated with typically Asian aesthetic elements, Hoko’s dining room has a capacity for 70 people (plus 20 on the outside terrace) and offers an eclectic menu to the tables, with no shortage of flavours of Portuguese cuisine.

In the kitchen, fresh and seasonal products are king, with fish taking pride of place. The service is of quality and seeks to enhance personalized gastronomic experiences, including in terms of drinks. Or if Hoko didn’t have a generous and diverse selection of wines, premium sakes (a traditional Japanese alcoholic drink) and Japanese whiskeys, with more than 50 references.

Among the starters, salmon tartare with truffle, ceviche tacos, fresh oysters and shitake mushrooms with soy sprouts, or okonomiyaki (Japanese fried pancake) with egg, are some of the right choices, say those who frequent the space. When it comes to fish, customers usually boast about the bluefin tuna belly (O-toro), the hamachi lily, the freshly grated wasabi or the sea bass tempura with shiso (an aromatic Asian herb).

In terms of meat, Hoko proudly treats its wagyu in robata (a type of barbecue), a Japanese beef breed with a high level of fat infiltration and a very rich flavour. As for desserts, you just have to love the deconstructed cheesecake with red fruits.

Yang Qi is the restaurant’s resident chef and co-owner. He was born in Spain but has lived in Portugal since 1997.

Hoko, remember, does not have a day of rest, being open from Monday to Sunday, from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, for lunch, and from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm, for dinner.

Given such a gastronomic panorama, all we can do is say “Koibito no hi omedetou”, which is like saying Happy Valentine’s Day!

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