Hailing the menu at Ha-Lu

Ha-Lu, like it’s english translation (Spring Flower) is modern, transcendent and delicate in its beauty.

Nestled in the residential midsts of Mount Hawthorn is this tiny but wonderful establishment. The decor is simple but elegant; clean lines and intimate dining spaces. And the staff are both friendly and attentive without crowding you as you go about your meal.

My best friend Vee and I have decided to go for a night out together; both of us new here though it’s been on our wishlists.

The staff start off by explaining that the menu here is Japanese style tapas and recommend 2-3 dishes per person but shared over the table. It’s a spot of recommendation as we go for 5 between us knowing dessert can follow after (once we spy it on the couple next to us’s table).

From the ‘deep fried dishes’ menu, we choose the scallop nanban ($18). It’s deep fried Hokkaido scallops marinated in sweet soy vinaigrette that are seated happily on crispy lotus root chips and a light serving of chilli mayonnaise.

The scallops are tender inside; soft and fleshy. They’ve developed a light crust from being fried without the use of a heavy batter and the lotus root offers a nice textural difference as we bite down eagerly. The chilli mayonnaise is delicious and the spring onion slices on top take the flavour profile in a completely different direction.
From the ‘starters’ menu comes the Toro and poached Onsen style egg ($14). It’s tuna sashimi chopped extremely fine with julienne shallots, wonton chips and seaweed sitting a top of a slowly poached egg and wasabi soy sauce. 
The waitress brings it to the table with a spoon and fork; mixing it in front of us before I get a chance to take a snapshot of the original (and very pretty) dish. The poached egg smashes down with yolk spilling everywhere and coating the sashimi like a rich sauce that marries so well.  

From the same menu comes the mushroom croquette ($12). It’s four lightly deep fried mushroom croquettes with an ume plum gelee (or jelly). Extremely different to your standard croquette which tends to be more potato or cheese; this is minced mushrooms rolled together with a very thin coating keeping it all together. It’s savoury and moorish and goes down a treat when combined with that incredible plum flavoured jelly. I could eat each item individually but together they’re just so right.

From the ‘grilled’ menu comes the standout for the night, the grilled Fremantle octopus ($18). It’s grilled pressure cooked tender octopus with garlic panko crumbs and sliced shallots. Over the top and served to the side is sesame oil and ume plum.

It looks amazing and yes, it tastes even more so. Octopus quite often gets that terrible rubbery quality to it whenever I order it but here it’s pulling apart like the most tender of meats. But here it’s soft slices that are highlighted by the clever balancing of ingredients and flavours that comes with it. I will be back for this dish alone, even though the others are wonderful too.

Our final main is off the ‘grilled’ menu too – the succulent teriyaki chicken ($19). Like all the other dishes it looks like a work of art; the garnishes and plating taking the amazing flavours to a new level.

The pan fried chicken thigh has been cooked with a chicken jus and sweet soy sauce; the pan having been extra hot to allow a crunchy crust to develop on one side. It’s sweet and salty at the same time; and very appetising. Especially when dunked into the kewpie mayonnaise that sits to one side. Its a nice little touch having the home made potato fries to soak up the sauce underneath too.

We finish off our dinner with two desserts to share. First off is the home made creme caramel ($7.5). It comes in a gorgeous and very traditional looking bowl that lifts the lid off to show a golden wobbly dessert beneath. The consistency of the creme caramel is smooth and silky. It’s lighter than I’ve ever had before; with my spoon cutting through as if it were butter.

Our final dessert is the white chocolate, roast tea and berry pannacotta with ume plum gelee ($9.5). This is one of the best desserts I think I’ve ever been lucky enough to eat. It’s velvety, consistent and exciting.

The pannacotta is creamy but with this great white chocolate edge to each bite. The plum jelly is sweet goodness that works in perfect harmony with the berries throughout and on top. I’m so happy as I savour the taste that is somehow slightly salty while being sweet at the same time.

Ha-Lu is a really modern and exciting place to try. I loved every bite and moment there. Definitely on the cards now to try their sister restaurant in Subiaco, Satsuki.

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