Quality Japanese that doesn’t hurt your wallet.
Hana 花 translates to flower in Japanese and we can all agree that the first flowers of spring brings happiness and warmth just by admiring them. With that, Hana Restaurant has aptly named itself based on this comfort, except that it isn’t about the flowers, but how it comforts our tummies with exceedingly delectable Japanese cuisine at an affordable price.
Hana Restaurant is situated on the first level of Forum The Shopping Mall. A shopping mall that is lined with quaint restaurants and shops, providing a respite from the bustling main shopping belt on Orchard Road.
Hana’s interior is quintessentially Japanese, intricately adorned with kois, sake and of course cherry blossoms. Over here, you can suspend your disbelief and play pretend that you’re having a picnic under a blooming sakura tree, hanami, as the Japanese like to call this activity.
For lunch, we were going in for an Omakase treat right here.
Kani Pitan Tofu. At first glance, I thought this was just like any other century egg tofu, but the difference became prominent after I took the first bite. Rather than having solely tofu, there is a layer of kani (crab) infused below that gives textures to the custard-like tofu. The century egg topping is creamy with a slight hint of spiciness, blending well with the crunchy ebiko.
Century Egg Beancurd Skin with In House Miso Sauce. Think piping hot, crunchy chips of beancurd skin with a cold in-house miso dip that is slightly sweet. I thought the contrast of temperature worked well. Though I can’t really taste the century egg in the beancurd skin, it is still a delectable starter worth ordering.
Angler Fish Liver in Ponzu Sauce. Unlike the ultra decadent foie gras, this exotic fish liver is less creamy but definitely not losing out in flavour. While it doesn’t melt in your mouth like the former, it is still soft and the tangy ponzu sauce helps to further cut the fattiness of this dish.
Sashimi Moriawase. The chef told us that we’ve visited at the right time because they’ve only just returned from Tokyo the night before, together with the fresh batch of sashimi from Tsukiji Fish Market. There’s ootoro, sanma (pacific saury) served with garlic and radish, kanpachi, hotate, tai meshi and botan ebi.
The chef certainly is well-versed in Japanese cuisine and is very serious about it. He came to our table to explain to us how the fish were caught, how they were still alive when they brought them back and how he prepared the sashimi such that the flesh of the fish remains tender and untainted by its own blood.
He even goes on to demonstrate the method to consume the sanma with the vinegar rather than the soya sauce and that we should cup the flowers presented on the moriawase. This is to release its fragrance and we should allow it to steep in the soya sauce while we feast on the slices of sashimi.
It was probably my first time trying out sanma and boy am I a convert. Unlike the usual fish, sanma is slightly meatier and substantial in texture, which is complemented by the vinegar and garlic. The other sashimi used are extremely fresh as well – definitely thanking my lucky stars for great timing.
The chef kindly asks if we wanted the botan ebi heads to be deep fried and mama taught me not to waste food, so yes of course. The Japanese are well-known to utilize every part of their ingredients. Out comes ebi head tempura and into our tummies goes the entire bowl of moriawase.
In House Fermented Umeshu ($25 per glass). The good people at Hana Restaurant regularly visits Japan personally to get fresh ingredients and they came up with the idea of fermenting their own umeshu with varying alcohol such as sake or Chinese wine. Ingenious.
We got a taste of it and I was in love with their umeshu. I’ve tasted overly sweet processed ones at other Japanese joints, which I wasn’t a big fan of. The ones here are less sweet, stronger in the alcohol content yet remaining delicate on the palate.
While you can make an order for them to ferment a jar of umeshu for you, it will only be available after at least 1 year of fermentation. Japanese plums are only in season around June, so that’s when they take orders. You know what they say about good things come to those who wait.
Ribeye Sumiyaki. I like how this is served, a DIY set complete with a traditional mini charcoal grill and assortment of vegetables. The idea behind it is that you can grill it to the right amount of doneness and you have the choice of seasoning it with salt for a more delicate taste, or vinegar if you fancy a stronger one.
Here’s a tip, season it with salt to retain the essence of the beef and dip it ever so slightly in the vinegar to add that extra zest.
Seth: It’s a refreshing experience to grill your own steak, although evidently from my burnt Ginko nuts I wasn’t too good at it.
Nama Unagi kabayaki. Inside the restaurant, there lies a tank with live unagi swimming in it. Albeit sadistic, but you can appreciate them swimming while waiting for your unagi to be served, which may or may not be their siblings. Or friends.
Hana’s unagi is slightly different from the usual sweet and soft ones that is heavily processed. It is slightly tougher, chunkier and not as sweet owing from the fact that it is fresh from the tank and not processed at all, which I much prefer rather than brittle unagi meat.
Himeji Butter Yaki. A whole red mullet is deep fried and coated with the butter soy sauce. The fish was slightly fishy but the butter sauce masks it due to its decadent and creamy nature, tasting albeit like a butter cup corn.
Assortment of Sushi. Here we have botan ebi topped with foie gras, salmon belly nigiri with black truffle and wagyu nigiri. Not the usual suspects, these inventive nigiris are bound to surprise your palette, giving an interesting twist to the traditional omakase. If you aren’t feeling too adventurous, let the chef know and he can cater to your needs and dish up a good ol’ assortment of nigiri.
Botan Jiru (prawn head miso soup). The broth is slightly thicker than the usual miso because of the prawn head, which contributes to the aroma and sweet, savoury factor. The egg adds an extra flavour and texture to the broth and goes the extra mile to comfort one’s soul.
Kyoho Grape Sorbet. A sorbet to round up an indulgent meal is always a good idea. The kyoho grape sorbet is refreshing and cleanses the palate after a heavy meal. Though it can get slightly sweet, you still won’t be able to stop yourself from taking another spoonful. It kinda tastes like hi-chew grape gummy but I’m not complaining because I love hi-chew.
By now you should probably understand my stance with Hana, absolutely a go-to if you’re looking for some serious Japanese cuisine that is affordable and delightful. Bring a date, bring your kids, bring your wife, bring your family, friends or just yourself. Whatever or whoever really, just go on down and have a taste.
Hana wouldn’t be skimping on their ingredients because they are serious about the food they serve. Happy tummies and happy wallets, ah the joy.
Another point worthy of mention is how Hana offers a $30++ omakase offer on Mondays and Tuesdays, while Wednesdays’ and Thursdays’ premium omakase are priced at $5o. I daresay that Hana has the most inexpensive omakase with quality ingredients that are bound to please their customers.
If omakase isn’t your cup of tea, which is highly impossible, Hana is also running a lunch deal promotion at only $12.90++. Think bara chirashi, sake bara don and many more. I know, enticing.
On Tuesday and Thursday nights, you can have two hours unlimited sushi and maki at a low price of $88++ with a serving of toro, uni and botan ebi. If nothing mentioned above caught your attention, Hana offers All-You-Can-Eat Shabu Shabu weekend dinner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at $49++. That means two hours unlimited servings of U.S angus beef, pork belly, seafood, vegetables and ramen. What can I say, such crowd pleasers.
Expected Damage: Omakase set starting from $120 to $150, varies accordingly to ingredients used.
Hana Restaurant: Forum The Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Road, #01-17, Singapore 238884 | Tel: +65 6737 5525 | Website
News flash, more good news heading your way. Hana Restaurant is included in the Entertainer App as well, which means you can have the omakase with a 1-for-1 deal, saving your wallet but not on quality. If omakase isn’t what you’re looking, you have the luxury to choose from either a kaiseki, chef’s special deluxe chirashi or a main menu item.