Sis have been complaining that I have not bought her a birthday meal for awhile now. So deciding on what to have for her birthday this time had to be special. While I was thinking of something a little more fancy like Matilda Bay Restaurant, Friends and such, she wanted something a little more casual and with more choices of food. In the end, we ended up at Ha Lu. Perhaps the best small plate option where everyone gets to try a lot of food. At Ha Lu, I have been impressed once and this time was no exception. It was equally good! The dining style here is Izakaya which has a similar concept to tapas.
That night we shared 9 dishes among us and all but one was great! We started of with a refreshing course of vegetables and meat:Root vegetable salad with onsen egg and sesame dressing. A delicious recommendation from the waitress. The root vegetables of all sort were fried before being mixed with some fresh leaves and tossed in sesame dressing. It was a textural marvel with all the different type of root vegetables with varying consistency contributing to its flavors!
While I used to hate sashimi, I somehow took a U turn and have started loving this little fish delights. Now, it is almost obligatory. Then again, I found $26 for 9 slices a little steep. My take on having a delicious sashimi was Ha Lu’s Sashimi Tartar of the day @ $14 below. It was fantastic.
This was a fantastic dish which I had in my first visit. More importantly, it still was. Marinated in soy and some spices, the tartar was served with a side of crisp and wasabi mayonnaise. All the magic ingredients for a foodgasm.
The wagyu tataki was nice with the dressing but I would have very much preferred it to be served with a side of finely sliced onions. The fried onions were a tad too heavy on the palate. In my mouth, it sort of reaches to that extent where it was just too oily to partake in such fresh flavors.
Moving on to the deep fried course:Dude food with a twist I must say. But the twist was not in the chicken but rather the concoction of mayonnaise and ume plum mayonnaise. It provided a hint of ripeness to the sauce making what usually is a rich (sometimes cloying) dipping sauce, light and delicious. Welcoming addition which added a nice touch to the Kara age.
Finishing the savory course with braised and grilled foods!The Pork Belly Kaku-Ni is a slow braised pork belly in soy sauce. No need for praises here. Just imagine melt in your mouth pork soaked in a fragrant and rich soy braise. All with some steamed rice. Enough said :)! Cannot wait to replicate this dish in winter. It is going to be heaven.
The last time we came to Ha Lu, we had to order this twice. Maybe thrice. But this was so small! But oh my god. This was good! Only complain could be the chicken was not as tender as I remembered it to be! The flavors though, are your typical teriyaki. Just a lot better. :)!!
Another fish on the table. The Miso Patagonian Tooth fish was my biggest disappointment of the night. It felt like Ha Lu was trying to do Nobu’s Black Cod Miso but this was just not what I expected. I wanted more quality. More delicateness in flavors. And the fish itself felt horrible. This was a big no no for me. Sorry Ha Lu. Terrible.
To finish the night, we had our desserts. This time David decided to opt out as he was not a person who enjoys sweet food. I do not either but I reckon I would not mind having it with my sister. It was her birthday lols. A little sad to have it by herself!Mine was the Black Sesame Tiramisu while Sis had the Panna Cotta. Both were delicious but perhaps mine was marginally the better of the two.
Over all, Ha Lu is still a damn good eat. The first Izakaya I had still packs the great quality it had from day 1!