Finally, a Japanese restaurant in Perth that I actually enjoyed and liked because it is different. Ha-Lu is a tapas-style Japanese restaurant tucked away along Oxford Street in Mt Hawthorn which looks small on the outside but is actually more spacious inside than it seems.
I’ve been going on and on about how much I loved Sake Bar Hagi in New York and, if you ask me, I think Ha-Lu is as close to Hagi as we can get in Perth. Ha-Lu has a sister restaurant called Satsuki in Subiaco. The menus are a bit different so come and try Ha-Lu. If you have been and enjoyed Satsuki I think you would enjoy Ha-Lu even more.
But let’s talk about the food. The menu is different from the standard Japanese restaurant menu that we have all around Perth like bento boxes, teriyaki stuff, california rolls, yaki soba, etc. Their’s consists of what I think is contemporary food with a Japanese twist (or Japanese food with a contemporary twist). Indeed the serving size is smaller so for a group of 4 we ordered 8 dishes altogether plus steamed rice and also miso soup for the 2 of us. According to the website, their dining style encourages “social interaction around the table”. They’re not wrong about that. As soon as you’re seated social interaction about food begins. Everyone was tasked to choose 2 dishes each to be shared amongst the group and we could’ve ordered the entire menu. Almost everything looks so interesting that I really wanted to try them all!
It was mostly L and I who chose what to order and convinced the 2 others, D and A, to agree with us. Just for the record, everything we had was exceptionally good except for the teriyaki chicken because it was a normal dish but someone just had to insist that we order it and the deep fried soft shell crab because there was not enough taste to the dish.
Here’s what we ate that night -
Homemade tofu & Mizuna salad with wonton crisps. L insisted that we have this because she’s had it before and loved it so much. She’s not kidding hey. The tofu was soft as (but not as smooth as I expected) and the salad dressing – soy mustard - was very good too. A refreshing dish that is made better by the wonton crisps.
Sashimi boat. 4 people and only 3 pieces each of the salmon, tuna and kingfish sashimi. Good thing D is not a big fan of raw fish so L, A and I had a piece each. Nothing special here but the sashimis were fresh on this occasion.
Soft shell crab tempura. I’m not entirely sure why this dish came with 2 pieces of deep fried soft shell crab and 2 pieces of fish. It wasn’t mentioned on the menu that it would have fish. So as a result we had to halve everything; except for one of the fish that D mistakenly thought was crab.
Duck and aubergine Madeira sauce. Is there really anything more succulent than duck? The duck in this dish was very flavourful and cooked until just pink inside and the duck slices sit atop a cube of marinated aubergine.
Grilled miso Patagonian toothfish. A rather different way of preparing toothfish because I usually eat this fish in Chinese restaurants where they serve it panfried with soy sauce. This one here is lighter in seasoning so you can taste the fish itself.
Wagyu beef “Ishi Yaki” grill with fried onion. Rarebeef slices in a very hot stone bowl. The waitress advised us that if we to have a well cooked beef instead we should place the slices on the edges of the bowl to cook them. Works perfectly and the beef was tender.
Unknown dish. Here’s a dish which I cant remember what it is. I’m not even entirely sure what it was when it was served. All I know is that it was something soft like egg whites with some seafood in it..perhaps scallops?
Two girls and two guys – the dishes seemed little at first but we left feeling really full and everyone had a great night.
My rating: 8/10