Hanare at the Intermark

Once upon a time, about a year back to be exact, one of my favourite Japanese restaurants closed down without so much as a whisper. No warning nor murmur of an apology.

I was furious.

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Tykoh Inagiku is the place I am talking about.

Tucked away in Menara Keck Seng on Jalan Bukit Bintang, I used to love coming to this place for many reasons. One, it was not so mainstream as your big flashy Japanese restaurants in the neighbouring mega-malls. Two, many discerning Japanese loved to come here. Three, they did fantastic, weird, in-season orders that were not on the menu.  Tykoh Inagiku was one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in KL, owned by a Japanese fish wholesaler from Tsujiki Market, Tokyo. When Boo of Masak-masak broke the news to me that they had closed down, I cried, I wailed. I lamented to her and we both held each other and shook our heads. What a shame.. what a shame.

Anyway, the good news is that, we can both stop crying now because the people from Inagiku have opened up again. Hanare is the name, and they will be here to stay for sometime I hope. Hanare is not exactly traditional looking. In fact, it does have more surface polish than its forebear, its clean lines and warm woods forging a minimalist appeal. It also has ostensibly Japanese-inspired dishes that go well beyond the sushi and sashimi.. and some of its cooked food is as impressive as its uncooked ones. Located at The Intermark on Jalan Tun Razak, this place is situated in heart of Kuala Lumpur’s city centre. I know it’s a little bit early to say, but I am putting my money where my mouth is and saying it. If  there was any one Japanese restaurant to visit this year, this would be it.

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ZENSAI (APPETIZER) -Begai (Snail), Asatsuki Sumiso (Chives with Miso Paste), Fruits Tomato, Bakurai (Sea Squirt), Mozuku (Seaweed)

First things first. If you come in here, please be prepared to fork out some good money for the Omakase. If you wish to order from the regular menu, by all means, grab a table .. but you will be missing out. If you go with the Omakase of approximately RM250 -300 per head, you must submit to the Japanese version of Nazi Dining at its best.  In other words, you obey the chef, eat what’s served, and God help you if you drop a grain of rice or dip something in wasabi without permission. The payoff is that whatever you eat is freshly shipped in and often exotic. Whether it’s amberjack or sea urchin from Japan, or something a little stranger that resembles brains, the Chef’s Omakase comes with a strict protocol – dip only when permitted, and then with restraint. This is an amazing experience for sushi aficionados.. a true journey into new tastes, textures, and sensations. It’s expensive but well worth it. In certain countries you are not even allowed to question the restaurant on the price of your dinner. You are completely at the Chef’s mercy.


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Whatever the precise trick, it’s a reflection of the serious efforts behind a meal at Hanare, which manages to make it stand out against other restaurants. It does this in part with brilliantly cooked simmered dishes, like the Nimono (ice fish) , then augmenting that with a superb selection of sushi and sashimi.

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SHIRAKO -seasonal cod milt/sperm served with ponzu sauce

I’d be lying if I said Cumi wasn’t initially freaked out when a small bowl of glistening shirako was placed in front of him, but he resolved not to be so squeamish when we saw a brawny guy near us, dig in without hesitation. Topped with thinly sliced scallions and a drizzle of ponzu sauce, the shirako sashimi was slightly sweet and vaguely briny with a smooth custard-like texture that resembled brains.

About the taste.. it’s gooey and, well, tastes a lot like slimy, neural matter, but way thicker in consistency. Like the stuff you suck out in a long thread, from the center of the spinal chord of a chicken. Oh, and with an eggy aftertaste. It says somewhere that, the advantages of eating cod-milt or cod fish sperm are, it gives you stamina and increases performance in bed, but then again, they say that about most things gooey or gunky anyway. So, only one way to find out!  (I won’t tell you my personal findings:P)

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SASHIMI -Toro (Tuna), Akami (Tuna), Akagai (Ark Shell), Hamachi (Yellow Tail), Isaki (Three Line Fish)

I heart sashimi for its straightforwardness and ease.. one big bite, a few clear and clean flavors, nothing too florid, nothing too brash. I love it for its texture, at once firm and pliant, giving you something to chew on.. like the birth of a new idea, the hatching of a new plan. What an irreplaceable feeling.

The Sushi Chef is honestly doing an exemplary work with the sashimi. Be sure not to miss the sweet Toro and Akami, perfectly textured; the Akagai, slick and substantial; and the Hamachi and Isaki, freshest you will get in KL. Flavour all this with some shiso leaf, whose perfume remains even after it’s peeled away.. and be thankful to be alive!

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Ciki checks out the little glistening eyes, staring up at her..

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NIMONO -Sairao Tamago Toji (Ice Fish)

This is the Ice fish, simmered in a seasoned broth. This eggy broth was flavored with various seasonings including dashi, miso and fresh ginger. Smooth and sweet due to the egg, the fish actually is so soft and brittle it comes apart even as you pick it up between your chopsticks. Not my favourite way of preparation of the ice fish but it was tasty enough.

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YAKIMONO -Tachiou Natana Yaki (Hairy Tail Fish)

This fish known as the Hairy tail fish, wasn’t as uniformly impressive, but it was hardly run-of-the-mill. I could feel the promise of flavour and depth, marred by a slightly overcooked texture.

Having said that, the breadth of this restaurant’s fish selection is thrilling — adventurous eaters will be happier here than any where else. Its sushi chefs know their stuff. The tuna, pike mackerel, jackfish, bonito and sweet white shrimp and Oh! for the love of  Omakase! Most dishes are seasoned to perfection, with scallions, yuzu and wasabi all weighing in at the right moments in the right measures.

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YASAI TAKI AWASE -Kabu (Tulip), Hamaguri (Clam), Yuba (Bean Curd Skin), Aka Konnyaku (Red Yam Cake)

The Yasai Taki Awase.. as beautiful in presentation as in taste. A wonderful ensemble.

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KAWARI ZARA -Anago Sushi (Eel)

The sushi here is fantastic. Everything about it is the bee’s knees. Just go crazy with the sushi, you will not be disappointed.

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WAGYU YAKI - wagyu beef, charcoal grilled and served with sweet potato

Shiatsu, deep-tissue or heat massage.. Which manner of pummeling becomes a cow most? I asked the head waiter and he looked at me like I was a lunatic.You see, if the cow is “massaged 500 times”, and tastes this good, I’d like to know which form of massage, so that I can go get it done for myself. Seriously, I was just posing the obvious follow-up question.

I never got the answer, but I can tell you that this Wagyu is outrageously good. The way it is prepared accentuates the creature’s distinctive meatiness. It’s supple, creamy textures are to die for. That, and a bite out of the steamed sweet potato is a marriage made in heaven.

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The Executive Chef at Hanare, Chef Sudo, prepares our final noodle dish

Sit at the counter if you want to observe the Chef in action, and the ensuing spectacle, complete with flourishes of hand when he sprinkles the goma, is magical.. part nourishment, part entertainment, and part ancient performance art! Wonderful. I want to rise up and applaud!

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GOMA SOMEN -sesame fine noodle

Hanare is the only place in KL that does the Goma Somen and you would be crazy to miss it. The texture of this sesame fine noodle is out of this world. Bouncy and springy, it really is a world-class somen.

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The grand finale of desserts

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MACHA PUDDING -green tea powder pudding, red bean and vanilla ice cream

End it all on a high note with a smooth, Macha pudding and call it a night. Well, dining at Hanare,  is not just a meal, it’s an event in itself. Be sure to save up for the Omakase. You will not be disappointed.

Add:
Hanare Japanese Restaurant,
Ground Floor, The Intermark,
Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: 03-2164-2133/ 2164-2633
www.globalfoods.com.my
Google Maps

Comments

  1. This is the first time i heard about Hanare! i would say its all worth the money! everything looks so unique n special to me, n looking at all that make me craving for japanese foods so badly! :(

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  2. Eh! Not fair la you make my post look bad in comparison. When you went? Gila atas la you.

    (… hurhur, you ate fish genitals too!)

  3. Cod sperm. =_=
    (EW *shiver*)

  4. sigh, i must be the last living being on the peninsular who hasnt gone to hanare yet, and be inseminated by cod sperm. while i pensively consider my fate, i meanwhile ogle at the gorgeous pics….

  5. Wow.. can this be considered as exotic Japanese food?

  6. Love Hanare. Tempted to try the fugu dishes that Sean blogged about… :-)

  7. LOL At the Last Hanare Virgin! It’s fascinating to see all the different types of dishes that the Chef could churn out according to the seasonal items! Your Omakase and mine was totally different! It makes one feel like going back for a second visit all the more :)

  8. glad to hear that the new tykoh (=hanare) is up.
    my friend (sugar) sobbed over for some times too when she heard tykoh has closed down. will ask her to visit here :)

  9. I think I’ll return for a-la carte wagyu. Seriously mad divine.

  10. Yay! Now everyone’s had sperm! Great post, I wanna go back and eat all their sushi… :) miss you too babe! xx

  11. This is such a crazy good post not to mention very entertaining too. Nazi Dining eh? Now I’m sure all of us wouldnt mind submitting to a good chef

  12. I agree with alilfatmonkey This is post was one of you best yet in terms of humor. Very enjoyable.

    How’s Jo doing? Poor guy!

    Some food is meant to be eaten, other food is just good to watch other people eat :)

  13. Thanks for the post. After I was heartbroken by Tykoh closing down I stopped eating Japanese food in KL (I go to Tokyo for my fix!). I must try this — can I assume the wait staff and the maitre’d went along to the new setup?

  14. i wan japanis foods, why neber brings meeeee

  15. I wanna go there NOW!!!!!!!

  16. wow girl, I always have those small snails, I’m not sure if I can handle the big one. hehe beautiful shots!

  17. The food looks yummy! Glad you have a place to help you move past the tears and wailing! :)

  18. Wow, I just wanted to say, the first photo is just stunning.

  19. Yeah, probably one of the best, if not THE best in KL right now.
    Just need to be experienced to relish in this omakase concept of eating at the chef’s mercy.

  20. Fab pixs. Everything makes me wanna lick the screen. I’m so tempted to run there straightaway after I see them.

  21. This is a restaurant for the brave only! “Seasonal cod milt/sperm served with ponzu sauce”– yikes :)

  22. i love how you describe the food! ultimate indulgence babe!

  23. Brilliant post, babe. Nazi dining, indeed – i certainly don’t mind subjecting meself to that, LOL!

  24. Now I know why everyone loves Hanare… went there yesterday for their buffet and I have to say to say it is absolutely the best ever :)

  25. Actually I disagree with your characterization of the omakase kaiseki set meal as “Nazi”. Japanese restaurants are hospitable and gracious places — they certainly allow you to make reasonable substitutions if you do not want to eat certain items, and although there is a correct way of eating what is served, they do not necessarily impose it upon you.

    Will go soon. If Hanare is anywhere as good as Tykoh, then my expectations are very high!!

  26. Hhmmm…finally went there this weekend and was quite disappointed. Had the kaiseki RM 180 set and although it was decent, it was quite run of the mill. Certainly we’ve had much better at Tykoh, more interesting and closer to what we experience in Japan.

    The lack of direct japanese connection/direction (unlike Tykoh) probably has cost this place its authenticity. I also noted a distinct lack of Japanese clientele. Will probably give it another chance with their ala carte menu. But I am not holding my breath.

  27. christine says:

    seriously !Fine dining!

  28. Wow that’s awesome. Just Awesome.

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