Unless you’ve been living off the grid (i.e. away from social media), you would probably have seen Hana Restaurant’s famous flying noodles once or twice on your Instagram feed by now. The sister restaurant of the equally talked about Benjamin Browns Bistro & Bakery, also at Forum the Shopping Mall, recently overhauled their menu to beat the ever growing competition in Japanese fusion cuisine.
Walking into Hana, the newly revamped space had a modern vibe quite unlike your typical Japanese restaurant. Take away the rice baskets for decoration, and you might easily mistake it for another Western establishment from the outside.
Diners can sit at brightly lit wooden tables or along the counter, where Hana’s fusion offerings are prepared.
In terms of food and presentation, it’s clear that Hana has taken the unconventional route. One such dish is the Sushi Taco ($10-$15), which comes served in a dim sum basket of all things! Hey, the eyes eat first, yes?
Each sushi taco is stuffed with sushi rice, melted cheese, lettuce, and a special ingredient (lobster $15, Japanese egg mayo $10, prawn tempura $15 or soft shell crab $12) generously topped with tobiko and alfalfa sprouts. Think of it as a sushi and taco rolled in one!
Fans of Japanese and Mexican food will have the best of both worlds in this one. The hard taco shell yielded a satisfying crunch, while the sushi rice, melted cheese and lettuce added contrasting textures and flavours to it. The lobster meat was incredibly fresh and the tobiko bits and alfalfa sprouts added a nice finishing touch to this starter.
Taking its cue from the traditional bento box, the Sushi Grid Box ($29 for 3×3, $38 for 4×3) is a collection of bite-sized samplers served in a clear plastic box.
The highlight for me is definitely the Truffle Uni Chawanmushi ($22 ala carte) – custardy smooth and rich in flavour from the truffle!
Hana Restaurant’s sashimi is air flown from Tsukiji Market – the mecca of fresh seafood – so that diners can enjoy maximum freshness and flavour.
The Sushi Drawer ($46 for regular, $60 for premium) is another quirky side dish. Personally, I’m not too big on this style of presentation; serving up fresh and well-made sushi is enough in my book. Was tempted to ask the owners if they got the drawers from Muji; at least it makes for a good conversation starter when you’re sliding the drawers open to get the sushi and maki.
Staying true to the unconventional route, Hana Restaurant has also cooked up some unique maki combinations. To cater to Singaporean tastebuds, the Soft Shell Crab Maki ($16) is paired with chilli crab sauce which is served over a mini Japanese grill to keep it hot. Dip the maki into the sauce and you will get that rich, sweet and spicy kick along with chunks of crab meat.
My personal favourite, however, is the Pitan (century egg) Maki ($18). It’s essentially soft shell crab maki topped with a dollop of pitan sauce and century egg bits – yummy! If you’re a century egg lover you’ll definitely love the aftertaste from the sauce.
For mains, the Truffle Beef Fried Rice ($18) is decent and should fill you up (look at how deep the dish is!). The truffle aroma greeted us the moment it arrived at our table, and there’s even a bottle of rice krispies for that extra crunch. Beef cubes were a tad dry.
And now for the dish you’ve been waiting for – the flying noodles! Served again on a pair of dim sum baskets, this visually intriguing contraption has had everyone scratching their heads over it.
If you’re wondering how Hana Restaurant makes their flying noodles fly, this video by Batamliciouz explains it all:
There are 3 flavours available. Riding on the salted egg yolk craze, the Flying Salted Egg Udon ($18) looks to be a hit with Singaporean diners, with the thick, gooey salted egg yolk sauce adding a touch of sweet to the spicy cut chilli scattered around ’em noodles.
My favourite is the Flying Truffle Somen ($20). For the uninitiated, somen is a thin type of noodle. Served cold, it’s the ideal remedy for the hot weather! The ebiko and tiny shrimp reminds me of sakura petals falling to the ground in spring.
Most photogenic award goes to the Flying Cha Soba with Spam Soba Sushi ($16). This elaborate set up includes thick, green strands of soba topped with seaweed, with a whole egg yolk in the dipping sauce. Delicious!
I was also pretty intrigued by the Spam Soba Sushi – that’s actual soba strands rolled into the sushi, mind you.
With Hana being the sister restaurant of Benjamin Browns, home of the freakshakes, it’s only apt that their drinks and desserts are as over the top. After a long walk over from Orchard MRT in the humid weather, the Over the Top Somersby Apple Cider ($25) was delightfully refreshing. Plus points for tipping the bottle into the cup so we don’t have to refill it ourselves!
While we were positively stuffed by the end of the night, there was no way we could leave without trying at least one of their desserts. Served in a uniquely shaped jar (gotta find out where Hana’s owners found all their bowls and utensils), the Matcha Mitsu ($15) is a perfect way to end the meal. There was not one hint of artificial sweetness which I like (do note that the dessert spread in the photo was part of an invited tasting and is not available on the menu – yet!).
In order to thrive in the F&B scene, one’s menu must be visually pleasing, delicious, or (preferably) both, otherwise the food falls into the mediocre or worse, gimmicky category. Luckily, Hana Restaurant delivers on both aspects, although it’s on the pricey side. They’ve put a lot of heart into concocting this new menu, so swing by and give it a try! Thanks for the invite.
Address: Forum The Shopping Mall 01-17
Opening hours: 12pm – 3pm (lunch) and 6pm – 10pm (dinner) daily
Extra charges: GST and service charge