Restaurant and food reviews from Perth, Australia

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ha-Lu, Mount Hawthorn

Ha-Lu means "spring flower" in Japanese and whilst it's currently autumn, Ha-lu's reputation around Perth lives up to its name as being a nice standout amongst the many Japanese offerings.  Back from years ago, I remember Ha-lu as being one of the more interesting Japanese restaurants around, offering seemingly classy Japanese Izakaya style food which is common in Japan.  Since then, much to my tastebuds' joy, I have to say that the number of decent Japanese restaurants around has risen setting themselves apart as offering everything from very authentic Japanese food through to exciting modern Japanese creations.

Ha-lu (or Halu) is a long, narrow restaurant situated on the ground floor of a residential complex on the quiet end of Oxford Street in Mount Hawthorn.  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 also friendly and polite in the usual Japanese way, and the head waiter is very helpful and always smiling.

As stated earlier, Ha-lu offers Izakaya style dining which in short means Ha-lu specialises in Japanese food served in small servings 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.

To top the food menu, Ha-lu also has some desserts including fusion desserts, a small selection of wines, and Japanese alcohol including a range of sake.

Wagyu Beef Tataki - $17

This dish was described as "Seared local Wagyu beef, thinly sliced and served with seasoned root vegetables".

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.

Nigiri - 5 pieces - $15

This dish consisted of two salmon, two tuna, and one prawn nigiri sushi.

The sushi were quite well made with a reasonably well made rice base, and fresh and soft fish toppings.  They were served with pickled ginger, soy sauce and a strong wasabi to go with it.  For not being a sushi restaurant, the sushi were quite well made and (to be expected) above the standard of a kaiten sushi train restaurant but in my opinion not the best sushi around Perth (keeping in mind most sushi made in restaurants in Perth aren't expertly made).

Crispy Pork - $7

The crispy pork was described on the menu as "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.

Chicken Kara-age with Iwanori Sauce - $13

This dish was described on the menu as "Deep fried chicken served with soy simmered Iwanori seaweed sauce".

The chicken was tender and moist, and coated with a light slightly sweet coating and deep fried.  The combination of these elements made the chicken kara-age easy to eat and the subtle tastes made this more than your average chicken kara-age.

Lightly sweet and lightly crunchy chicken kara-age

The Iwanori sauce was only lightly spread across the kara-age and was very thick, yet light in the soy and seaweed flavours.  The subtlety complimented the kara-age and made the overall dish quite enjoyable.

Patagonian Toothfish Nitsuke - $18

This dish was described as "Lightly deep fried Patagonian Toothfish simmered in a soy-dashi broth".

The patagonian toothfish was cooked to the right amount making it soft and light.  The subsequent deep frying and simmering in a soy-dashi broth helped blend the flavours through the dish.  As a result, the overall cooking technique provided for a nicely textured and well matched flavour dish.

Miso Soup - $2.50

The miso soup was well made (as was expected) with a cloudy miso soup, bits of tofu, and finely sliced spring onion.

White Chocolate and Berry Pannacotta - $9.50

This dish came as layered panacotta with a small amount of mixed crushed berry juice throughout.  The panacotta had a creamy smooth texture, not being as set as a normal panacotta.  The white chocolate taste was light and overall the dessert seemed lightly refreshing whilst also having a creamy flavour.

Black Sesame Tiramisu - $8

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.

Cocoa dusted ladyfinger biscuit

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.

Kuromatsu Sake (medium soft)

Sake is served in either regular or small sizes.  This sake was the "regular" size and came in another interesting work of pottery that perfectly fitted in my right hand with a thumb indent and shaped spout for pouring.  Sake is served hot or cold, and my personal preference is always to have it heated.  This sake when heated was smooth and had a sweet flavour, that was reduced to some extent when cold.

In summary, Ha-lu offers well prepared Japanese food with a touch of fusion.  Whilst its prices are in line with its izakaya style, it allows diners to sample various dishes in a modern Japanese restaurant.

Points to note:  Izakaya style fusion Japanese dining with wine, beer, and sake available.  Book in advance if you want a prime time seat.

Go for: Japanese fine dining in a casual and modern environment, Izakaya style.

Shop 4/401 Oxford Street
Mount Hawthorn WA 6016
(08) 9444 0577

Trading Hours
Wednesday to Sunday - 6pm to late.

Ha-Lu on Urbanspoon


Conor @ Hold the Beef said...

I love Ha-Lu! I think I would even go there just to look at the crockery, it's beautiful.

How have I not had the crispy pork there yet? Man it looks good.

Adrian (The Editor) said...

Hi Conor

I agree the crockery is pretty amazing. We looked to see if it was branded and found no logos so that makes one wonder if they are specially made?

The crispy pork was pretty good but being deep fried pork belly just be warned it's pretty full on.