Economist Simon Lee Siu-po, an honorary fellow at the Asia-Pacific Institute of Business at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the cheaper and high-quality options and services offered in Japan, or even in neighbouring Shenzhen, had been more competition for the city.
“The depreciation of the yen is just a minor factor influencing people’s decision to spend their money elsewhere,” Lee said.
“Local restaurant operators face narrow profit margins, which necessitate higher prices, resulting in higher service charges.”
Lee said that he travelled with seven family members to Osaka in May and the bill for their robatayaki meal of Japanese barbecued food came to HK$1,800 – equivalent to what a single diner would pay in Hong Kong.
Software engineer Clement Lai Hing-ho, 41, took advantage of the cheap yen to spend five days in Tokyo last week with his wife and four-year-old daughter – and headed straight to the renowned Toyosu Fish Market as soon as they arrived.
For 11,000 yen, they got two sets of sushi at the popular Daiwa Sushi restaurant and were served seven pieces of raw fish, six sushi rolls, a Japanese rolled omelette, miso soup and tea.
“The experience is unique – watching Japanese chefs deftly prepare the meal, their knife skills and plating on full display,” Lai said.
He and his wife also treated themselves to a 16-dish omakase dinner and some sushi for their daughter.
“That was about HK$850 for the three of us. I know Hong Kong has quality Japanese restaurants, but they charge at least HK$1,200 per person,” Lai said.
This article was first published on SCMP.
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