One of the latest restaurants at the newly renovated section of Marina Square is this Japanese restaurant named Hamanoya. While it features robatayaki (charcoal grilled food) as its main call, it is more like a casual Japanese restaurant rather than a strict robatayaki place where chorus of yells assails your ears even before you are seated.
Ambience aside, one can't be wrong with the robatayaki seafood here. The Salmon Belly $9.99 is expertly done--crispy crust without sacrificing the fats on the pink moist fish. The accompanying side of grated radish and salmon roe helps to cleanse the palates for more items ahead.
The grilled ayu $14.99, which belongs to the same salmon family scientifically, tasted brilliant too. With just a sprinkle of salt, this river fish is revived and offers more meat to chow through than the mini-sized mackerel in nasi lemak.
But the same thing cannot be said of the King Crab $14.99. The meat was sorely super-glued to the shell, perhaps because they had been frozen for quite some time.
The highly-anticipated oyster ($14.99 each) from the South Pacific Ocean sat lazily in a shell. Fresh and meaty, it was a pity that some of its natural essence got lost in salty shoyu broth that it was soaking in.
Grilled corn $3.99 does not sound terribly exciting but these ones are truly sweet with a heady aroma of burnt honey. Meanwhile, those who are afraid of onions should try the Grilled Onions $3.99. Before you start worrying about onion breath, these ones here are slow roasted till tender, and what is left behind is pure caramelized sweetness.Unlike most Japanese restaurants, the Eggplant $3.99 stays away from miso and is presented as a lightly vinegared, healthy dish topped with dancing bonito flakes. Would prefer if there is more of the chef's special sauce.
Besides the grilled robata and vegetables, there is also a Hi-mono section, which usually includes familiar dried fish such as Kinmedai or Mackerel. Instead of fish, we opted for the Shio-Kouji Chicken $9.99, which came surprisingly as the size of half a spring chicken. The most delectable part was the crispy, slightly charred skin with hardly any grease clinging on the surface. Below is the juicy meat that has been imparted a rich savory depth by the Shio Koji (fermented rice salt marinade).
From the Otsumami Section, items offered are side dishes or deep-fried snacks that one can have as appetiser or simply with a good bottle of sake. Under the canopy of shallots and onions, the Scallop Tataki $15.99 (lightly grilled semi-raw scallops) were spectacularly fresh. For an enhanced sweetness, try dipping it into the shoyu or salt.
The dessert choices are not many and so we swept two out of the three items on the list. The Matcha Trifle ($9) is a boat-shaped dish filled with volcanoes of bite-sized green tea-flavored and plain pancakes around a scoop vanilla ice cream and red bean paste. This resembled a deconstructed upsized dorayaki and highly recommended for sharing.
For a super rich indulgence, try the custard pudding $4.99, which is creamy yet dense with a substantial amount of dark brown caramel sauce that perches delicately between the sweet and bitter. The texture is definitely not like any creme caramel or panna cotta.
Just when you think this restaurant may break your bank, prices go with the casual attitude at no more than $20 (Except for crab). Visit any robatayaki at Roppongi and one is prepared to fork out more than hundred for a meal. Here, one get to enjoy not only fresh seafood from Japan but also a bewildering array of comfort dishes such as Tonkotsu pot, Unagi Toji and even Okonomiyaki!
Though opened barely for a few months since July, all signs looked positive are clearly hitting all the right chords with the lunchtime crowd.
If you are looking for a slightly different Japanese cuisine, this is it.
Marina Square The Dining Edition #02-106
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