It has been some 7 months since Hanazen opened in Chijmes and it has since seen a change of chefs. Hanazen’s new chef is Taisei Iwao who is also Executive Chef in the Lumiere Group in Osaka and chef-owner of Karato.
Chef Taisei Iwao was recently in town for a preview of the new omakase menu and I was invited over to Hanazen. I thought it was also a good opportunity to compare it with my maiden experience when they first opened.
Hanazen features an open-concept kitchen with counter seating surrounding the kitchen. Around 90% of the dishes in the omakase menu are cooked so diners get to see a lot of action. As this is my second time in Hanazen, I could see how quickly the staff cooks and prepares food for the 16 of us that night. With 10 dishes, the omakase was concluded in less than 2 hours.
Piperade sauce (red capsicum based, onion garlic and prosciutto) and Gruyère Cheese
One of only 2 raw dishes in the menu, the Uni Brioche made for a wonderful teaser. But it also belies what’s in store for the dinner.
Mix of Akamai & Chutoro tuna, Caviar and Gold Leaf
One of the most exquisite looking dishes of the night, the tuna tartare was topped with caviar and pieces of gold flakes.
Hokkaido Scallop, Broccoli, Kelp & Coriander Leaf, Mousse and Broccoli Clam Chowder
I typically enjoy my scallops. Here, the shellfish is lightly grilled and thus, possessed a firmer texture and was also drier to the touch. Hanazen is a grill concept after all but my personal preference would be something bouncier. On the other hand, I found the broccoli, kelp and coriander mousse rather intriguing and made for a rather addictive combination. This is one instance where you’ll definitely heed your mom’s advice of eating your daily dose of veggies.
Baked Australia Lobster, Béchamel Sauce, Crustacean Sauce
For the lobster dish, chef had called everyone’s attention and demonstrated how the shellfish was flambeed in a skillet before serving. The result were some juicy pieces of flesh, enhanced by the bechamel sauce that you’d want to keep digging well beneath the shell for more.
Koshihikari / Liver Sauce
One of my favorite dishes of the night was the abalone course. It looked deceptively simple at first glance, as you have just two chunks of abalone and a bit of rice without any seasoning whatsoever. The star of this show was the abalone liver sauce. We were recommended to enjoy it two ways – one to dip a slice of abalone into the sauce and the second with the sauce slathered all over the rice and the remaining abalone piece, akin to a stew.
Kagoshima A4 Beef, Fresh Wasabi, Sweet Peppercorn, Onion Sauce
The other highlight of the evening, the wagyu beef dish was char-grilled right in front of us. The final dish came with 3 condiments – a nicely sweet onion sauce, a small dollop of wasabi and peppercorn. There were 3 pieces of beef here and I personally recommend dousing each one with one of the 3 condiments to enjoy the contrasting flavors.
Premium Miyazaki Mangoes and Mixed Fruits
For the carbohydrate dish, the curry base is made with Miyazaki mangoes, which are prized for their sweetness. This results to a milder gravy, one that you can gulp down together with rice rather than just putting on the side. This was another dish which I really enjoyed.
Fresh Peach, Celery Ice Cream
This was a rather unique dessert, with fresh peach juice contrasting against the herbal and earthy aroma of celery. I did not know what to expect at first but it surprisingly works.
Chestnut Puree, Cheese Mousse, Cracker Crumbs, Sweet Potato Chips, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
The second dessert was a deconstructed version of a mont blanc cake. You’ll find the familiar tastes in there, such as chestnut and whipped cream but chef went a few steps further by adding vanilla bean ice cream and sweet potato puree.
Raisin Butter Cookie
Soaked in Yamazaki Whisky
We ended the meal with a rather modest-looking but punchy cookie. There’s Yamazaki whisky infused in the crust, and it’s actually a rather prominent flavor in the pastry. It is small enough to be gulped down in one bite.
This is my second visit to Hanazen and the new menu could not be any more different from the first. This new menu makes a looser interpretation of Hanazen’s overarching charcoal-grilled theme by also incorporating a number of other cooking styles. There was not a single skewered dish this time round and the price is also slightly lower (S$210 for 10 courses) despite featuring some premium ingredients. Overall, I enjoyed this menu better as I thought there was more variety and each dish was also more substantial. Some courses were also rather unique, having been formulated by Chef Taisei Iwao himself.
30 Victoria Street
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