AOAO Central Restaurant Review | Delish Eats
Hong Kong/ Delish/ Reviews

Delish Eats: AOAO, Multi-faceted Gem of Dining and Entertainment in Central

AOAO Delish Eats header

Restaurant story: Exit the elevators to AOAO and you will immediately come face-to-face with a large installation offering both a symbolic yet palpable representation of this art-meets-gastronomy concept. Depicting a rotating unpolished green gemstone, it references ‘AOAO’s’ meaning of ‘lush green’ in Japanese, whilst representing the venue’s status as a ‘hidden gem in the rough’ of Central’s many unassuming high rises.

Conceived as a multi-hyphenate of a space, the restaurant serves up contemporary Japanese fare with an emphasis on izakaya-style dishes during dinner service, with a bar touting signature cocktails, all whilst acting as the backdrop to evening mingles and DJ sets that keep pulsing on deep into the night.

What’s the vibe and venue like: Stretched across 5,000 square feet, the space is split into a chic outdoor terrace with concert grade lighting, and a dining-slash-drinks cavern that has been lined with green resin decals that glistens and dazzles with every caress of the light – just like an AOAO-coloured gem would.

AOAO restaurant hong kong
Alisa Chau

How much does it cost: In total, the meal cost about HK$805 per person, comprising a substantial feast with both of us having our hunger more than satisfied. We each ordered a cocktail as well, which goes for between HK$128 to HK$148 per glass.

What is the menu about: Complementing the ethos of the venue, the dishes all boasted artful presentations, each looking like an elegant modernist painting. Putting a sumptuous twist on classic izakaya that were made to share, the fare incorporates twists in preparation, playing with familiarity in tastes.

What did we order: Hamachi (HK$148), Chilled Chawanmushi (HK$128), Caramelized Pumpkin (HK$88), Takoyaki-style Chicken Wings (HK$148), A4 Wagyu Cutlet Charcoal Sando (HK$328), Hairy Crab Butter Udon (HK$278)

(Not pictured) Shredded Celtuce Salad (HK$68), Nagaimo & Tofu (HK$68), Charcoal Grilled Eel (HK$288), Red Bean Daifuku (HK$68)

AOAO restaurant hong kong hamachi
Bianca Esteban

Hamachi: Sliced a little more generously than the typical sashimi cut, the yellowtail was garnished with salted egg yolk sauce, bitter melon, and pumpkin puree. Recommended to enjoy the combination in a single bite, the moment the fish hits the tongue, the flavours and textures meld together into a rich and ‘creamy’ bodied mouthful. The bitter melon gives a bit of a crunch, but was not offensively ‘bitter’ at all, in fact complimenting the meatiness of the fish with its bite.

AOAO restaurant hong kong chawanmushi
Bianca Esteban

Chilled Chawanmushi: A blooming sun of flavours, mix well before tasting. The jewels of salmon roe offer a pop in your mouth sensation, whilst the layer of abalone isoyaki add a pinch of umami that brings complexity to the egg custard.

AOAO restaurant hong kong pumpkin
Bianca Esteban

Caramelized Pumpkin: Warming from the inside, this is just the dish to encapsulate the essence of autumn. Encrusted in the layer of caramel, the wisp of smokiness delightfully blends with the sweetness and crunchiness of each morsel’s texture.

AOAO restaurant hong kong takoyaki chicken wings
Bianca Esteban

Takoyaki-style Chicken Wings: As AOAO’s signature dish, this creation fuses together two of the most popular izakaya favourites in the canon – takoyaki and grilled chicken. Entirely dough-less, the much-loved cuttlefish batter is turned into a delectable stuffing that cooks until tender inside the flavourful and succulent chicken wing.

AOAO restaurant hong kong wagyu cutlet sando
Bianca Esteban

A4 Wagyu Cutlet Charcoal Sando: Plump, savoury, and coated in savoury-rich beef fat, the wagyu cutlets’ melt-in-your-mouth sensation is reminiscent of a deep smooch. The dash of saltiness from the beef’s juices melting into the thin layer of mayo and grated daikon coated on the toast made for a heavenly mixture of flavours that lingers on the palate.

AOAO restaurant hong kong crab butter udon
Bianca Esteban

Hairy Crab Butter Udon: While an initial glance at the dish stunned, with its steamy aroma and luscious sauce beckoning for a taste, the flavour was in fact quite balanced and not too overpowering. It was decadence with sophistication.

AOAO restaurant hong kong venue
Alisa Chau

What we liked: AOAO adds an emerald-tinged artistic vision to its already impressive location, bringing in touches of art and entertainment, as well as a well-thought-out izakaya menu that takes the cuisine to the next level.

What we didn’t like: While the grilled eel is a signature dish, personal preference prevented me from enjoying its texture and marine taste. It’s sure to delight any seafood lover but felt overwhelming to my palate.

What you should order: Hamachi, Chilled Chawanmushi, Caramelized Pumpkin, Charcoal Grilled Eel, Takoyaki-style Chicken Wings, A4 Wagyu Cutlet Charcoal Sando, Hairy Crab Butter Udon

Location: AOAO, 14/F, Manning House, 38 Queen's Road, Central, Hong Kong

Contact details: Book here, +852 5506 5521

This food review is based on a complimentary media tasting provided by AOAO in exchange for a truthful review and no compensation. The opinions expressed within represent the views of the author.   

Enjoyed this article? Check out our previous Delish Eats reviews here

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