Cafes, Restaurants and Dining in Perth, Western Australia.

Ha-Lu

4/401 Oxford Street, Mt Hawthorn
Phone: (08) 9444 0577
www.halu.net.au

A Taste of Tokyo

Welcome to one of Perth’s newest and finest Japanese dining experiences.

Ha-Lu, which translates to Spring Flower, blends dishes commonly found in the most traditional parts of Japan, with elegance typical of the stylish high streets of Tokyo.

Nestled in the top part of Mt. Hawthorn’s well-known Oxford Street, Ha-Lu offers a diverse range of Japanese meals. They include those you may be familiar with, including sushi, bento boxes and tempura – and possibly more novel dishes, such as tsukune style chicken or fish kara-age.

If I may be totally ostentatious for a moment, as a woman who has been to Japan four times and one with an unhealthy obsession with Asian food, I am somewhat accustomed to the potential offerings of Japanese restaurants. Ha-Lu managed to blow these out from underneath my pretentious backside from the moment I stepped through the door.

One of the first things I noticed was the lack of the famous Maneki Neko- the waving good luck cat. As Ha-Lu’s group manager Robert Bahemia comments, they have pushed aside all of the “kitsch” aspects typically associated with Asian restaurants and instead they focus on providing a sophisticated and modern environment.

Previously of Subiaco’s popular Yahachi Japanese restaurant, Robert has dedicated himself to creating a place which is suitable for all diners – from business and family functions, to more intimate bookings.

The menu has been carefully assembled by Ha-Lu’s Japanese chefs, with a refreshing balance of cold and warm dishes. There is also a variety of sushi, sashimi and bento boxes available. If you order a bento box, take note of the beautiful container it is served in – these are traditional bento boxes, rarely found in Perth.

Ha-Lu also offers a take-away menu, designed to be eaten on the run or taken home for a more private indulgence.

Scott and I were treated to three traditional dishes – each served on beautiful Japanese crockery straight from Tokyo.

Round one: the slightly spicy fish kara-age – a deep-fried fish fillet combined with cucumber and a hint of spices and coriander. Now don’t let the “deep-fried” description put you off. This dish was more tender and light than you can imagine and the touch of spice was just enough to give the meal a bit of an edge.

For round two, we were presented with my personal favourite – the grilled chicken with natural salt and yuzu kosho pepper. I couldn’t get enough of this succulent dish, as I struggled with my chopsticks (even the chopstick rests are from Tokyo). The flavours were light and refreshing – as Robert says “one of the basic things about good Japanese food is simplicity.”

Finally, round three and Scott’s favourite: the duck and aubergine Madeira sauce. While Scott was “blown away” by the duck (I’m not a huge enthusiast of duck in general), I was very impressed by the great presentation of every meal. This particular dish was served with a sprinkling of traditional Japanese mustard, lightly dotted around the plate, subtly adding to the Spring Flowerstheme.

Robert told me Ha-Lu’s menu is based around Izakaya, a style of dining in Japan whereby customers share each other’s dishes. “The meals are designed for social integration. You share the plates and try everyone’s meal. This way you try many different things all in one sitting,” he said.

The Ha-Lu team have certainly worked very hard to create a sophisticated yet relaxed environment. As they state on their website, “Ha-Lu has taken Japanese dining to new levels rarely seen before in Perth,” and I must say I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Ha-lu is now open 7 days for dinner, so there are no excuses!

Ha-lu has been featured in the Masters of Menu Recipe Book – for more information please click here.

By Tiffany Wertheimer

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