Monday, August 27, 2018

Hanagatami 花筐 (Osaka, JAPAN) ★★★★☆

Last time I walked down this corridor, I was on my way to one of my favorite French restaurants in Osaka, La Baie.



But I have always wanted to check out Hanagatami (花筐), a highly acclaimed Japanese restaurant on the very same floor of Ritz Carlton Hotel Osaka. Today, I got the golden opportunity to do so with my little nugget wanting some udon noodles (lame excuse!).

To say Hanagatami is a jack of all trades could be a little misleading considering they are very good with what they do and they do a lot of things well from sushi, sumibiyaki, kaiseki to teppanyaki and tempura. 



Out of those five, I'm most interested in their sumibiyaki (Charcoal-grilled 炭火燒) because a good one is so hard to come by.



Hanagatami's sushi bar is also very popular among the locals. I think the gorgeous view overlooking a Japanese garden has something to do with it. 



I'm really looking forward to this unique sumibiyaki experience. It's going to be extra special to observe how the chefs prepare our seafood, meat and vegetables over those fired-up high-grade ubame oak charcoal from Wakayama, right in front of our watchful eyes.



Having sumibiyaki can be messy at times with ashes flying around the counter tables next to the grill, which is why I opted to come here. Everything is conducted in such a professional and clean manner that we can really enjoy the meal without smelling like a piece smoky meat afterwards!



Our first course of the meal was grilled black sesame tofu with seared scallops. It was served with some fresh wasabi and dashi.



I really enjoyed this dish tremendously. The rich black sesame flavors were so nicely matched with the extra kick from the wasabi and dashi. The texture of the tofu was perfect too, with the soft, tender centre well surrounded by the crisp crust. Very delicious.



Next up was a little refreshing salad with crab meat and grilled vegetable slaw.



It was followed by a duo of sashimi which happened to be tuna and sea bream this afternoon. This was probably the less successful dish of the afternoon (because it's not charcoal grilled?).



After a slightly disappointing sashimi dish, things were back on the right track with a very tasty charcoal grilled kinmadai fish. I thought the fillet had really nice firm texture and it was working wonderfully well with the miso glaze (grilled lotus root was a little too crunchy though).



I have been thinking about this dish since I came through those doors - Kuroge wagyu beef (黑毛和牛) and grilled vegetables.



Turned out it's well worth the wait. These pieces of perfectly marbled Japanese black wagyu beef from Miyazaki were so tender, juicy, flavorful and succulent. I could only wish the portion could be a little bit bigger.



I almost forgot there's still a steamed Koshihikari rice bowl with Unagi eel coming next.
As usual, it was accompanied by an Akadashi miso soup and Japanese pickles.



Dessert was Warabi mochi served with soy bean flour cream and sweet bean paste. It's already sweet enough so I guess I didn't need to pour the syrup in. And last but the least, a slice of cantaloupe melon to wrap things up.



I was so happy that I have decided to come here instead of going to La Baie again. It was such a unique experience to sit there in a theatrical setting and watch their talented chefs in action. To sum up this meal, I thought the black sesame tofu, kinmadai and Kuroge wagyu beef really stood out as three of the most amazing dishes of the afternoon. What a wonderful start to this trip it was!

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: ¥¥¥
Address: 5/F Ritz Carlton Osaka, 2-5-25 Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka, 530-0001 Japan
Closest Metro Station: Umeda
Tel: +81 (0)6 6343-7000
Website: www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/japan/osaka/dining/hanagatami


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