Monday, 14 July 2014

Some of Perth's freshest sashimi at Hanami, Mount Lawley

As far as we know it, this is what sashimi heaven is like...
Hanami Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon
It was the night of my birthday when we made a frantic phone call for help, pleading for a last-minute empty table on a public holiday so that I didn't have to end up with an extravagant instant noodles and canned sardines birthday dinner at home.
"What day would you like to book the table for?" the lady on the line asked.
My timid reply - "Um...actually can we come in 10 minutes?"
While I am not a loyal customer at Hanami, I can definitely vouch for the freshness and quality of their food from the multiple times that I have visited. The small restaurant was always bustling and packed to capacity, and evidently a very popular choice on the ever popular Beaufort Street dining strip.
Sleek looking menus - I'm a sucker for beautiful bounded menus
On many occasions when I was seated right outside the toilet door and closed in by 3 walls, I always found myself thinking how much better it would be if the restaurant expanded its premises to accommodate for the excess customers. When we arrived that night I was surprised to see this is exactly what happened - Hanami doubled in size; the newer side of the restaurant refurbished to a modern and spacious dining space with the older side still looking a little drab in comparison. Honestly though, this was the last thing on my mind - I had a feast to eat!
Beef Tataki - $10.90
Hanami's menu is divided into sections and we made it our mission to order at least one dish from every section (hey, you never get far without setting challenging goals right?) Everyone in the family are carnivores of the raw kind and love to eat the rainbow - we like our beef pink and our salmon bright orange!
I'd like the spring onion dish with beef garnish thanks
For this reason, beef tataki is an all-round favourite. Even for somebody who lives to eat spring onions (she puts spring onions on her steamed rice, seriously), my mum found the excessive amount of spring onions on top of the beef amusing. Along with large flakes of pickled garlic, they sit on top of 8 pieces or so of lightly grilled beef in a pool of vinegar sauce. The beef is soft with a pink, juicy centre and a slightly seared crust along its edges. We're off to a delicious start.
Large Assorted Sashimi (18 pc) - $30.90
A big, euphoric grin spread across my face as I subconsciously clapped my hands in excitement for the arrival of this large assorted sashimi platter. It does come with a price but it also comes as thick-cut, fresh and vibrant pieces of our favourite thing to eat raw. The assortment includes kingfish, tuna, salmon, squid salad and smaller diced pieces with caviar sprinkled on top. We were very diplomatic about sharing the sashimi but I didn't hesitate to take the last piece (or two, because you know, it was my birthday). :P
Hanami Special Salad - $14.90
The Hanami Special Salad is not as special as I remember it to be. There is considerably less ingredients now than what used to be in it and I'm not sure if I'd order it again. Compared to before, there are two prawns but an absence of salmon sashimi, seafood extender and seaweed and not enough of that sweet, citrus dressing that paired so well with all the crisp, fresh vegetables. With avocados casually priced at $4 each, they're my luxury food and a blessing to eat. (I did manage to buy 5 for $2 recently - it was the closest I got to winning the lottery).
Unadon (Eel) Set Menu - $23.90
For its price, I would suggest other dishes from Hanami rather than their sets. They are very minimalistic and contain the main, a bowl of rice, mixed salad, miso soup, edamame and some uninspiring pieces of fruit thrown in. There is only so much you can say about them, and one of them is that my salad had close to no dressing in it whatsoever.
I've yet to come across a poorly cooked piece of eel, unless they have all been cleverly masked under that thick blanket of sweet sauce slathered over all unadons I have ever eaten. Eel is most definitely one of my favourite things to eat, however my only gripe is the serving size of it in this set menu.
Spider Reverse Roll (5 pc) - $11.90
Mum has never fell harder or faster for a dish since trying the soft shell crab sushi roll at Matsuri in the Perth CBD. I wouldn't blame her new romance, I did too; the crab is delicate, meaty and pairs perfectly with the mayonnaise that spirals through all the sushi rolls. It's definitely a winner, so she was eager to see how Hanami's version fares.
Soft shell crab sushi roll
The spider reverse roll is a tightly packed wheel of a nice thin layer of sushi rice, encasing a compact arrangement of deep fried soft shell crab, cucumber, avocado and cheese cubes before being pressed with toasted sesame seeds. On the side is a serving of pickled ginger pieces and wasabi, however I do think a creamier sauce would work wonders for the dish.
The dishes start arriving quickly one after another and fill up the table, fast. Despite the busy night at Hanami, the service is quick and efficient without compromising on the quality or presentation of the dishes. Out of the many times I have dined here, the quality and freshness of all the ingredients has been consistently tops - no wonder the need to expand the seating capacity!
Large Assorted Sashimi (18pc) - $30.90
 Given we were feeling anything but full after demolishing all the dishes we ordered, we waved down a waitress for the menu again. The first plate of sashimi was barely enough to whet our appetite and so a second order of another large assorted sashimi happened, and even more dazzling than the first. All the pieces were thickly cut and we scored the salmon toro - juicy, velvety cuts of salmon from the belly which were rich with fat and tasted absolutely amazing as a result. As far as we know it, this is what sashimi heaven is like.
Beef Teppanyaki - $22.90
Since all the dishes until this point have been cold dishes, and because I have fond memories of the teppanyaki section of Hanami's menu, I chose the beef teppanyaki as our final order. I think what delighted me most initially was the sight of the pieces of garlic and slithers of caramelised onion that lay amongst the cubes of glistening beef. Teppanyaki dishes are grilled on the hot plate and this beef was perfectly done so with its gently crisp exterior. The component that elevated the beef however was that unassuming bowl of mustard sauce - it was strong and fragrant with a bitey flavour that made me end up drinking some with a spoon long after drowning the garden salad in it. It seemed to have the juices from the pan mixed in because it had a rich, beefy, caramelised flavour to it that I never expected.
Seating area
Hanami's new fit out is inviting and elegantly minimalistic, with dark furnishings contrasting with its bright walls. A mural adorns the back wall, adding a cultural charm to the interior along with the sake bottles, kimonos and cherry blossoms used to decorate the seating area.

The seating area lit with different types and forms of lighting
Crane folding
Towards the end of the night, 2 staff members begin on an origami task of folding cranes with serviettes that are placed at each seat. Having had a goal of reaching 1000 paper cranes when I started folding them when I was 10 years of age, it is often a long, arduous task that I realised I will probably never complete. I became mesmerised on the trained, skilful hands of the lady who effortlessly created a crane in seconds, which became an entire flock in minutes. I stayed fixated on the growing flock of precise, perfectly folded cranes...
A very serious attempt at a peacock-like crane
 ...until I turned around and saw this before laughing my head off. Turns out dad had become inspired to fold his own crane with his aged and experienced but not so skilful origami hands. Atrocious looking, yes; but the international sign of peace and hope has never managed to make me smile quite as much as this one was capable of.
Hanami Japanese Restaurant, Mount Lawley
Hanami Japanese Restaurant
Lunch Monday - Friday: 11:30am - 2:30pm
Dinner Monday - Sunday: 5:30pm - 10pm

Tel: (08)9371 9855
Address: 685 Beaufort Street Mount Lawley, WA 6050

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