Ha-lu

Duck and aubergine Madeira sauce 1

18.12.2010

Today, we celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary and 10 years of being together. How time flies when you’re having fun.  To celebrate our anniversary, we booked in for dinner at one of our favourite restaurants, Ha-lu. Ha-lu, is the sister restaurant to Satsuki (located in Subiaco) has been around for 4 years and this slick, modern eatery specialises in the Japanese version of tapas, where meals are comprised of small dishes served in succession.

Ha-Lu means “spring flower” in Japanese and whilst it’s currently summer, Ha-lu’s reputation around Perth lives up to its name as being a nice standout amongst the many Japanese offerings. Ha-lu is one of the more interesting Japanese restaurants around in Perth, offering seemingly classy Japanese Izakaya style food which is common in Japan.

Ha-lu is a long, narrow restaurant situated on the ground floor of a residential complex on the quiet end of Oxford Street in Mount Hawthorn. Blink and you’ll miss it though. The decor is modern, its serving dishes include plates and bowls that almost seem like pottery pieces of art, and the atmosphere is casual yet somewhat gives a nice refined feeling without being upmarket.  The staff are friendly and polite in the usual Japanese way, and the head waiter is very helpful, giving suggestions with your orders and always smiling.

Ha-lu offers Izakaya style dining which in short means Ha-lu specialises in tapas style Japanese food with the idea of trying and sharing different food whilst having drinks and socialising.  The menu is filled with a variety of dishes (including a few bento boxes) served in different ways, and the food seems like a subtle modern fusion of Japanese food. Ha-lu also has some desserts including fusion desserts, a small selection of wines, and Japanese alcohol including a range of sake.

We scored a table outside on a lovely summer night and started with a small bottle of sake for John and a nice glass of Sem Sav for me. We started with a couple of cold dishes which were the sashimi, waygu beef tataki and tuna with poached “onsen” style egg. The sashimi were salmon, tuna and kingfish and you can never go wrong with sashimi and I love raw fish! The fish were fresh and thinly sliced served with fresh wasabi! The beef was very lightly seared, sliced very thinly, and topped with sesame seeds and finely chopped spring onion.  On the side were some lightly flavoured vegetables including lotus root which was reasonably soft after cooking.  The beef tataki was served with a light vinegary ponzu sauce. The tuna dish was raw tuna chopped into pieces with a poached egg in the middles and topped with shredded radish and seaweed. The waitress will, at the table, break the poached egg up and mix it in with the tuna. This dish is absolutely delicious!

We ordered a few hot dishes as well and one of which was the crispy sliced pork belly served with Oroshi ponzu vinaigrette. The pork was very thinly sliced, lightly coated and deep fried.  Given the pork was thin, the pork had a light pork belly taste which (due to it being the belly) crisps up very well when deep fried.  The sauce was a oroshi ponzu vinaigrette which was light in flavour and slightly thick in consistency so as not to cover or alter the crispy pork taste and texture. The duck and aubergine Madeira sauce was another hot dish that we ordered and it was thinly sliced duck breast slow cooked to perfection along with thinly sliced aubergine or eggplant topped with a Madeira tamari soy sauce with small dollops of Japanese mustard. The duck was tender and well balanced with the eggplant, the sweetness from the tamari sauce and that clearing your nose feeling from the mustard.

We wanted to try something different from the menu this time around so we ordered the Nikujaga which is the deep fried dumpling with a slow cooked beef and onion filling served with a light soy dashi sauce. These dumplings were really good! The beef and onion filling was tender coated with a light potato layer and then deep fried till golden brown topped with shredded vegetables. When you bite into the dumpling, it crumbles gently and you’ll get the lovely sweet taste of the beef and onions. Delicious! Another dish that we ordered was the grilled black cod (on the menu is the Patagonian toothfish which they have run out) marinated with sweet white miso and tom tomato dengaku. The fish was marinated in a sweet and grilled to perfection. It is such a simple marinate that does not take away from the taste of the fish.

For desert, we ordered their black sesame tiramisu. The top layer was the “cheese” part of the tiramisu but was not as strong and textured as a normal tiramisu.  The black sesame was crushed and present in the middle layer but the black sesame taste was only a subtle flavour throughout the dessert.  The bottom layer had crushed ladyfinger biscuits throughout which remained crunchy. The tiramisu was then topped with a ladyfinger biscuit and dusted with cocoa.  This dessert was an example of a well made fusion dessert that wasn’t quite what I have come to expect of a tiramisu nor a strong use of black sesame that is common in other black sesame desserts.

The highlights for me were the tuna with poached “onsen” style egg as I loved the simple flavours and the execution of the dish and the black sesame tiramisu. There wasn’t a lowlight for us at all! What a way to spend our 5th wedding anniversary!

The meal cost us $150 inclusive of a small bottle of sake and about 4 glasses of wine which I think is really good for such a great meal.

On the whole, 9 for the food quality, 9 for the atmosphere, 9 for service and 9 for pricing.

Ha-lu

Shop4 / 401 Oxford Street

Mt Hawthorn

08 9444 0577

Open Wed – Sun    From 6:00pm -  10pm

Close Mon and Tue

http://halu.net.au/

Ha-Lu on Urbanspoon


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