Hanare revised 3

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