Thursday, February 10, 2011


Hanare: Round Four. The trilogy has turned into a quadrilogy,
For earlier entries, click: Feb. 2, Feb. 6 & Feb. 8.

We rarely risk ordering "omakase" at Japanese outlets; from experience, letting the chef decide what to serve us can result in a slew of dishes that we dislike. But Hanare surprised us with a cunningly creative selection that was supremely satisfying from the very start _ this slick, savory mix of cucumbers & fine seaweed.

Crunchy mustard flowers with fish roe. Feeling guilt-ridden after weeks of festive feasting? The "omakase" here might help; each course tastes clean, fresh and healthy, even though the meal as a whole remains incredibly indulgent.

Clams with sumiso (vinegar miso sauce). Prices are not outrageous; a basic "omakase" costs around RM180+, while the most lavish one is RM300+.

Baigai (a small water snail with a meaty texture) & smoked duck (deliciously juicy _ the best we've had in KL), accompanied by broad beans & spicy wasabi flowers.

Sea urchin with squid. Also spectacular; the inimitably sweet, soft uni proved to be the perfect partner for the chewy squid's subdued flavors.

No complaints about the sushi platter. Fish is flown in three times a week.

Ditto for the sashimi. Doesn't get more seductively luscious than this.

Tsukemono, a plate of pickled veggies. The radish was remarkable, with an infusion of citrus that imbued this humble root vegetable with real character.

Succulent clams in a tantalizingly tangy broth. Hanare's food should be slowly savored, since the complexities in some of these recipes only reveal themselves with careful consideration; this soup, for example, bore an underlying sweetness that we believe came from Azuki bean paste.

Wagyu beef & burdock with rice in claypot. The Japanese cousin of Spain's paella and Korean bibimbap. Tender, thinly sliced beef, mixed with addictively aromatic rice.

We finished with a flourish, jubilating over a jumble of wafers stuffed with mochi, crushed peanuts & red beans, green tea pudding with vanilla ice cream, and mini-pancakes with apple jam. Ceding control to the chef ended in sweet surrender.

Ground Floor, The Intermark,
Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2164-2133


  1. Have been intently following your Hanare posts, relishing electronically every tasty morsel. This seems braver than what they offered at Tykoh last time. Perhaps they feel KL is sophist acted enough to have a world class Japanese Restaurant.

    Thanks, Sean. Your blog has always been the place I turn to when I need some ideas to rejuvenate my tired palate.

  2. PA: thanks, gregory. I'm really hoping that word-of-mouth will eventually drive folks here, since it's always three-quarters empty on weekdays. it's not perfect, but it's my favorite Japanese restaurant in KL right now, and yep, better than tykoh! Btw, I still owe you a dinner, and I have your cell number; when your work schedule permits, do let me know, and we'll share a good meal somewhere =)

  3. so was this the 180 omakase or the 300 omakase?

    i like how little dainty dishes comprise most of the meal, unique and not the usual tempura, teppanyaki, soup and stew dishes that you get in some omakase.

  4. Loved Tykoh. was one of my faves.. so this place is definitely on mah list.. ooo yeah!

  5. 4 times in a month... this place must be really good for u to go so often :)

  6. Joe: couldn't resist going all-out for the 300 one! =) but yeah, customers here are allowed to inform the chef if there are any ingredients that they really want (in our case, sea urchin), and the chef will try to incorporate those ingredients into the selection...
    Ciki: this is like the Phoenix rising from inagiku's ashes, coming back stronger than ever! Heheh, proves that change can be a good thing after all :D
    Baby sumo: oh yeah, and it sounds like the place will get even better next month, cos they plan to add more stuff to their a la carte menu! Can't wait for March! :D

  7. I cannot tahan already! Hanare this sunday for me!!!

  8. Michelle: remember, Sunday afternoons they only do the all-you-can-eat two hour lunch (with champagne optional) and dinners will be back to a la carte and omakase :D

  9. *sigh* Why must they open after my office has moved? Ah's still close enough to visit when an extended lunch hour comes my way ;)

  10. unka: ya, still reachable within a 10-minute drive for you guys, rite. hope you get your japanese fix soon! =)

  11. You're mad Sean! Four rounds so fast?!!
    Wow. Indeed, Hanare may just prove to be THE Japanese restaurant in the city.

  12. j2kfm: heheh, i'm really lovin' it! (though i suspect the proximity to my office also helps. hanare is only a 15-minute drive from my workplace, even during peak traffic hours) :D

  13. you must have tried almost everything on the menu by now. And I am still trying to figure out where is this building on Tun razak! haha

  14. eiling: heheh, i don't think i even managed to try 50 percent of the menu. this building is where the former yow chuan plaza and city square buildings used to be (across the main road from ampang park shopping center) :D

  15. tsukemono ga suki desu~~

  16. nicotinegum: i rarely see it available on the menu anywhere! or maybe i never notice :D

  17. rarely yes... but they usually come with bento sets, which you avoid like plague

  18. Nicotinegum: time to revisit hanare then! This is the only Japanese outlet where I'm now prepared to try anything and everything :D