You’ve probably read a few dozens of food reviews covering Japanese cuisine from various Japanese restaurants in Metro Manila. What makes Hatsu Hana-Tei any different? It is probably one of the few places where we’ve been to that 95% of their customers are all Japanese patrons. Minimal old furnishes, people speaking in a language which you cannot fathom and an old Japanese chef watching manning the floor like a wait staff to make sure that customers are being served properly.
For the Japanese, it’s different, they don’t go to other countries to try other food, they tend to stick to their traditional Japanese food, and Hatsu Hana-tei is one of the places most frequented by these Japanese visitors that are here in Manila.
Hatsu Hana means first spring flower and embodies the freshness and vibrancy of a joyful renewal of the season. They stick to a very traditional cooking technique with an artful presentation, no aspect of Japanese cuisine gets overlooked and disrespected. Prepares Kasiseki-style meals and menu that is enhanced by several regional practices in Japan created by the head Japanese chef who exercises his skill with the local seafood produce.
Once you head up to the second floor of the Herald Suites hotel, you are surrounded by the servers in traditional kimonos, they are friendly and polite.
As we enter this restaurant with bright interior and wooden walls, most people in the room looked at us quite oddly and surprised as if we were invading their private hidden place. There are three seating areas, one in the common area, in front of the bar, and tatami rooms for more private conversation.
We were fortunate enough to be with a regular patron of the establishment and we were able to nab one of the private tatami rooms. The small room is comfortable, cold, and warm. The server immediately places an appetizer and the drink of your choice once seated. A nice place to get drunk and have good conversation.
The big chunks of salmon coated in a spicy mayonnaise tossed and topped with ebiko, and tempura crumbs, accompanied by a soy sesame salad. The creamy fresh taste of the salmon
How to eat Sashimi the right way?
For us filipinos, we’re used to just adding calamansi or lemon to the soy sauce and mixing it with wasabi paste into the mix. We then proceed to dip it and devour it.
In Japan, they traditionally, place a small amount of wasabi paste onto the fish directly and dip proceed to dip a small portion of fish onto the soy sauce.
When they served this, I almost didn’t want to touch it since it looked so pretty. The think slice of salmon was so fresh, that when I placed it on my mouth, it melted on my tongue. The Sanma covered with ginger and scallions was a refreshing. Although not a fan of Saba Sashimi, it was a lot better than others I’ve had in other Japanese restaurants. The Hamachi was creamy and firm in texture. The Kamachi, also known as one of the highest highly prized fish in Japan, was excellent in flavor, texture and color. It was creamy, refreshing, and firm. What I like to do, is get a bunch of the shredded horseradish to add another level of texture to the fish.
The big slices of think and chunky Maguro Sashimi was so fresh and delicious. The quality and the freshness of the Sashimi is definitely one of the best you can find in Metro Manila.
The beautiful colors of a variety of different kinds of fish in a collection in a platter. Truly a rainbow in its own accord. The maki slices were filled with avocado, mangoes, and tamago. All these ingredients fusing complementing that different fish that lies on top of it. Each piece tasting a little different from the other.
- Call in advance to make a reservation, they get pretty full even on weekdays.
- Ask for the beer vouchers after paying for dinner for free Nama beer. Trust me, this is really good.
After having around 4 mugs of their Nama(Draft) beer, and devouring the entire platters sashimi and maki. Hatsu Hana-tei brings you the Japanes experience, right here in the heart of Makati. Everything from the Kimonos, the small buzzer in each of the tatami rooms, and the high quality of the food is reminiscent of a traditional Japanese restaurant in Tokyo. Japanese like focusing on one dish and perfecting it.
Simplicity, authenticity and quality.
Herald Suites, Don Chino Roces Avenue, Makati, 1231 Metro Manila
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