Imagine walking along the streets of Osaka, looking for that fancy omakase you've been dying to try after watching the Food Network television series about Japanese traditional cuisines. Don't you wish you can find a place like that in Kuala Lumpur? Well, hello, you're in luck! Hanare at The Intermark Mall will offer you the same experience you've been dying to have!
We were invited to try out their set menus for dinner recently at their beautiful and sleek restaurant located in The Intermark Mall in the city centre of Kuala Lumpur (only about 5 minutes drive away from KLCC). Upon arrival, you're greeted by their friendly staff members and seated. If you're coming in a bigger crowd for dinner, I'd recommend for you to make reservations as this restaurant is popular during evening and night time.
We met with their head sushi chef, Yonomoto Akira, a very welcoming Japanese man from Osaka, who served us our food for the night!
Photo by Samad | Interior view towards the bar area
Photo by Samad | Elegant and very Japanese-style interior design
We were seated at the bar area where we were facing Chef Akira and all the fresh fish that is said to be imported from Japan twice a week and prepared fresh for customers every single day by the professionals behind the bar and in the kitchen. Hanare prides in only using fresh ingredients; artificial flavourings and preservatives are forbidden from the restaurant.
Photo by Samad | Fresh fish for sashimi and nigiri sushi
Photo by Samad | Fresh fish for sashimi and nigiri sushi
Photo by Samad | Chefs serving the customers by the bar
Photo by Samad | They only serve fresh wasabi in Hanare! You can taste the difference compared to the generic wasabi you have in other stores. This one is so good, even when eaten on its own!
The first thing that they introduced to us was, of course, their Chinese New Year special, the Hanare Hotate Yee Sang (RM118 for regular size and RM188 for large size). The one thing that we absolutely loved about this Lou Sang is that it's very refreshing.
Most of the time, the flavour and textures of Lou Sang can become very dull on your taste buds, however the Hanare Lou Sang, which includes freshly sliced scallops, only has fresh vegetables and daily-made crisps to add a crunch. There are 2 sauces that go into the Lou Sang too; sesame oil and a special homemade sauce which includes soy sauce and honey (they wouldn't disclose anything else because it's apparently a secret). If you want a more refreshing and light Lou Sang, I'd highly recommend Hanare's.
Photo by Samad | Hanare Hotate Yee Sang (RM118 for regular size and RM188 for large size)
Photo by Samad | Yee Sang served with fresh scallops
So for our set menus, we chose the Hibiki set (RM360) which consists of appetisers, 4 kinds of assorted sashimi, 2 dishes of the Chef's Specialty, 6 pieces of nigiri sushi, akadashi red miso soup and a dessert, and the Kiku set (RM200) which consists of appetisers, seasoned steamed egg custard, 7 pieces of nigiri sushi, akadashi red miso soup and a dessert.
Photo by Samad | Hibiki appetiser
Above is the Hibiki appetisers which consists of (from left to right) wasabi leaves, fresh prawns, pickled black bean and garlic. The Kiku appetiser is the same except you do not get the prawn. This was a good start to the meal as it was light and simple.
Photo by Samad | Kiku steamed egg custard or Chawanmushi
For the Kiku set, you will receive steamed egg custard, or commonly known as Chawanmushi, as the second dish after the appetisers. So this chawanmushi was quite special because they have truffle in it and also a touch of citron and tangerine! It was acidic and sweet, which was a pleasant surprise. I really liked it because it was quite different from the usual ones you get at normal Japanese outlets.
Photo by Samad | Chef Akira making our nigiri sushi
Moving on, for both the mains of the sets, Chef Akira prepared the sashimi and nigiri dishes right in front of us. Since it's an omakase, the chef prepares each piece of sashimi and nigiri one by one and waits for you to finish eating. He will add the right amount of wasabi and brush on soy sauce for you. All you do is eat! The chef also mentions that it's best to eat sushi with your hands because since he makes it with his hands, you should also consume it with yours.
Photo by Samad | Buttery sashimi
For the sashimi in the Hibiki set, you'll be served a variety of fresh fish including flounder, red snapper, mackerel and tuna belly. The tuna belly was my absolute favourite because it was so buttery! It just melts in the mouth! I swear! So delicious!
As for the nigiri sushi, you get similar fresh fish with the addition to other fresh ones like scallop and fish roe. The nigiri sushi was astounding! Everything was incredibly fresh and delicious! You know the fish is super fresh when there are no hints of fishy scents after placing each piece in your mouth! The fish to rice ratio was also perfect because you won't feel too full after eating 6-7 pieces.
One thing that I want to highlight is that their rice for the nigiri sushi is served warm because Chef Akira says that the warm rice enhances the flavours of the fish, wasabi and soy sauce. It's also good for moulding the rice into the perfect nigiri sushi.
Photo by Samad | Yellowtail nigiri and tuna belly nigiri, which was my absolute favourite!
Photo by Samad | Eating sushi with your hands is encouraged!
Photo by Samad | Chef Akira said that slightly grilling the scallop nigiri makes it taste even better, and he was right! So yummy.
Photo by Samad | The chef made us complimentary salmon roe sushi. So yum!
The Chef's Specialty dishes include the fried Kampachi fish served with lemon and freshly shaved daikon radish, and Chilli and Fish tempura. The Kampachi fish is lightly battered and fried to a nice crisp. The part of the fish they serve you it the collar/jaw part of the fish, which is filled with tender meat. Very nice! The tempura was also a very lovely light dish. I didn't expect the vegetable to be chilli actually! It wasn't spicy though because they removed all the seeds, however the flavour of green chilli was evident and frankly, delicious!
Photo by Samad | Chef's Specialty Kampachi fish dish
Photo by Samad | Chef's Specialty Tempura dish
Let's not forget about the akadashi red miso soup. I LOVE miso soup so much, it's perfect on a rainy and chilly day! The one they serve in Hanare is comforting, tasty and is filled with lala (clams)! It's that warm soup that you really need to tie the whole meal and experience together!
Photo by Samad | Akadashi red miso soup with lala
And for dessert, we tried 3 dishes: the Yoghurt Mochi, Japanese Honey Dew and Green Tea Pudding (not part of set menu).
If you like mochi then you must try their Yoghurt Mochi! The filling is very creamy and cold, but it doesn't effect the gooey and soft texture of the mochi wrapped around it. There were two flavours that we could identify, the yellow one being something citrusy and the other being like a berry of some sort.
Have you ever tried fruit that tasted like candy? Have you ever tried Japanese melon bubblegum? The Japanese Honey Dew tastes EXACTLY like that! Just like candy! It's so juicy and refreshing too. I loved it so much!
And yes, the Green Tea Pudding (ala carte RM15) was excellent too. It is a staff favourite. It is served cold with homemade caramel sauce and has great consistency as it's bouncy and light. You can also have it with vanilla ice cream (ala carte RM25).
Photo by Samad | Yoghurt Mochi
Photo by Samad | Japanese Honey Dew
Photo by Samad | Green Tea Pudding (RM15)
If you're looking to spend money on impeccable service, food and ambience, to celebrate a loved one's birthday, for a work dinner, to bring your significant other on a special romantic date or even just 'transport' yourself into an authentic Japanese experience for a night to enjoy delicious traditional Japanese food, then I'd recommend you stop by Hanare at The Intermark Mall in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.