At the far end of the Food Hive along Visayas Avenue in Quezon City lies Hamaru, a small and cozy restaurant that offers yakitori and sushi. The moment I saw photos of Hamaru’s food on the web, I vowed we would go there. We did—all four of us and we were happy that Sam considered it one of those occasions when she would be pescatarian rather than vegetarian.
Hamaru’s food is superb. S-U-P-E-R-B.
All the dishes featured in this post look better than they appear in the photos. It was sundown when we got to Hamaru and they turned on red neon lights overhead before our food was served. By the time the first dish was on the table, we were already problematic about how to filter out the glow of the red neon lights. We did try our best nonetheless.
The Oyster Motoyaki, described in the menu as “chili-garlic mayo + cauliflower puree” was amazing. Even Speedy who does not like oysters tried it and had nothing but praises. But three oysters for PHP195.00? Hmmmm….
When I ordered the Black Sakura, I didn’t know it was on buy-one-take-one that day. It was. At PHP195.00 per order, the promo did make the price a little more reasonable.
What is Black Sakura? Chicharon bulaklak (pork omentum)—fried, of course— with uni-oyster sauce. No greasy mouth feel. Just creamy briny goodness interplaying with the lightly crisp offal. I could eat that everyday.
The menu described the “Wagyu short ribs” as “3pcs American Wagyu black grade beef short ribs.” Well, I didn’t expect each piece to be so small. Half an inch thick and just a little over an inch wide. The meat was delicious though. Hands-down delicious. Tender, no sinews, perfectly cooked, amazingly seasoned and wonderfully garnished. But at PHP320.00… whoa, that is pricey.
The salmon sushi is described in the menu as “nigiri suhsi + tuffle oil + scallion vinaigrette.” Sam and Alex had that, I didn’t. Alex found it so good she wanted another round but there were more dishes coming up.
Sam adores uni (sea urchin) and she ordered this uni and tuna maki. Unlike most maki dishes, this one has no nori. Instead, the sushi rice, tuna and uni came wrapped in thin fried tofu. Sam made me try it and, oh my goodness, it was truly delectable. Price? PHP220.00.
Above, the nori taco which the menu says is “salmon + nori in wasabi tempura batter.” Oh, I love the textures in the dish. Soft and creamy raw salmon, the battered nori was lightly crisp and subtly chewy at the same time, and the bonito flakes and tobiko (egg roe) on top were just the perfect finishing touches. Price: PHP275.00.
The best Japanese fusion food I’ve had, so far. The prices may sound “normal” for a good Japanese restaurant but the servings at Hamaru are pretty small. It’s a tapas-style place to enjoy pica-pica with drinks but not have a full meal at unless you’re okay with a budget of around a thousand plus per person. You pay for the wonderful plating, you see, not just the food. And you pay for those customized wood blocks on which most of the dishes are served. They do add to the visual appeal of the food, yes, but they don’t add nor detract to the flavors and the textures. But, well, that’s Hamaru’s style. If the prices are meant to keep the riff-raff off its premises, Hamaru is doing a good job.
So, we’re going back to Hamaru despite the not-so-friendly prices? Yes, we are! A thousand plus per person isn’t all that bad when you consider the creative cooking and the imaginative combination of ingredients. Delicious. DELICIOUS! I wish that management would get rid of the red neon lights though. Bad for taking photos.