Fusion has been a buzzword in the foodie scene in recent years, promoted with trite claims like “east meets west” and “best of both worlds” that—let’s be honest here—send eyes rolling to the backs of the heads of lifestyle editors jaded by press release speak.
But TMK Punk & Rolls, a sushi restaurant that “swears by the motto of living life the fun way,” pierced our veil of indifference. Between living life the miserable way and living it the fun way, we, too, choose the latter. Pictures on their social media feeds—hand rolls overflowing with sashimi and soft-shell crab; pints of beer being clinked against a wall of 80s-style pop culture stickers like Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara and a Linkin Park logo—convinced us that we wanted in.
So, in we went. Located on Queen’s Road West where Sheung Wan meets Sai Ying Pun, TMK Punk & Rolls is located up a narrow staircase with graffiti that is mostly undecipherable, except for scrawls of “TMK” and “I MADE YOU LOOK!!”
The restaurant is small, a communal table commanding its center and bathed in purple-pink light. Around it, there are booths and bar seats in front of the sushi counter. A playlist of rock classics—Queen, Blink 182, Guns N’ Roses—serenaded us as we sipped on Masumi Gold sake ($180/carafe) and Manzairaku Kaga umeshu ($60/glass).
A blinged motorbike was our view for the feast, which began with Hamachi ($98) with tangerine ponzu, black sesame paste and crispy quinoa. The fish tasted fresh, the ponzu added a touch of tang and the quinoa was the crunch we didn’t know we needed.
Next, we tried the Iberico Kushikatsu ($108), which was good for sharing as it came in four skewers. The Iberico was OK, but not all that different from your regular pork katsu.
We loved the Mentaiko Udon ($128) though, the satay sauce and mentaiko (spicy cod roe paste) making for a surprisingly fitting combination.
For the hand rolls, we tried the Negi-Toro ($88) and the Soft Shell Crab ($68). The Negi-Toro with scallion, bluefin toro and mustard seeds, which had a nice umami flavor. We wished, however, that there was a little more toro. The Soft Shell Crab hand roll with wasabi mayo, cucumber and tobiko (flying fish roe) was quite a bit more substantial, and the soft shell crab was cleanly fried without an oily taste. Do note that the prices are for only one (1) hand roll, making it quite extortionately priced in our eyes.
We were also drawn to the Wagyu Beef roll ($88), which was made with wagyu tartare and topped with asparagus. The beef had a nice, gamey flavor, and was a good contrast to the lightly vinegared rice.
We weren’t going to order the Tuna Hotdog ($98)—when we saw that on the menu, a mental picture of oversized frankfurters overflowing with highlighter yellow mustard came to mind—but since it was highly recommended by the waiter, we decided to try it.
It was a relief that the Tuna Hotdog, it turned out, was nothing like a tuna hotdog (or whatever that would even entail). Topped with spicy tuna and tempura batter, the roll was a nice take on traditional sushi, and we loved how the fish tasted with the vinegared rice.
For dessert, we tried the ice cream sandwich ($38), which on the day was a vanilla and pineapple flavor. The menu, at least at the time, listed the sandwich as being matcha flavor, which for us tea fanatics is the be-all-and-end-all of flavors—so we were admittedly disappointed when we were told otherwise. Still, this was a refreshing end to our meal and not messy, as dessert sandwiches can sometimes get.
Overall, we liked the dishes at TMK Punk & Rolls—the fish was fresh and we loved the creative twists, like the sesame paste on the hamachi and satay sauce in Japanese udon—but couldn’t quite justify the steep price tag. For a special occasion though, and/or if you’d like to see a truly impressive collection of vintage pop culture stickers, we’d recommend giving TMK a go.
TMK Punk & Rolls: Shops G & H, G/F and M/F, 77-91 Queens’s Road West, Sheung Wan
TMK Rap & Rolls: 17A Moon Street, Wan Chai
Editor’s Note: This article was based on an anonymous and unannounced meal at TMK Punk & Rolls. Coconuts footed the bill and our writer received no freebies. TMK Punk & Rolls had no editorial involvement or oversight in this article. View our Editorial Policies here.
This article, Review: Sushi with a twist at Japanese fusion restaurant TMK Punk & Rolls, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.