ha-lu – mt hawthorn

Mmmmm poached egg. The tuna  with ‘onsen style’ egg is so perfect, the sexy egg yolk is oozing everywhere and we scoop it up greedily. This dish is bowl scraping worthy. Basically tuna tartare touched by madness, it’s a genius dish.

It’s so good, that from then on, the meal was almost anticlimactic. Don’t you just hate that?

With rave reviews, the Gourmet Traveller guide and the restaurant that spawned (one of our favourites) Satsuki, it was hard not to be excited about Ha-lu.

Service started off fabulous. Chilled water on the table, warm facetowels and we were ready to receive our courses two by two.

Wagyu tataki – thin slices of seared marble beef – were good, but the pieces served looked like the end piece of the fillet. I like my tataki fleshy enough to have some chew and these were too thin and too small to be considered toothsome.

Quick as a whip, the efficient kitchen delivers the scallop nagi and the prawn tempura. The scallops are oddly varying in size. Some are tiny and one is especially huge. The scallops were cooked perfectly, though the flavours from the dressing was absent. So, it was cooked well but with no flavour.

The prawn tempura was crunchy but not exceptionally light. Just average and on par with local takeaway.

Our waiter reminds us our last two courses are about to arrive. The kitchen’s efficiency combined with the fast order taking and even speedier table clearing gives a notion of haste under a thin veil of efficiency. I get the impression they are trying to move covers as soon as possible to make the second sitting…

The dorper lamb cutlets were interesting. When fusion succeeds it’s great, but when it fails, it’s miserable. The two lamb cutlets were topped with deep fried wedges of camembert. Biting into the lovely pink cutlet, the cutlet was wonderfully tender and juicy. The camembert, though oozy and crunchy – was superfluous – it added nothing, no taste, to the dish. It’s either a problem with the quality of cheese or the effect of deep frying it. I’m not sure.

The price ($16 for two cutlets in non fine dining restaurant) is a bit much and the addition of cheese and grilled vegetables really didn’t add anything to the cutlets. Apart from the delicious dorper lamb, the rest of the dish was unremarkable.

Soft shell crab is my favourite food of all and at Ha-lu they give it a (fusion) cheese treatment. Camembert (again) and the deep fried soft shell crab are gratinated and served hot and steamy. Decadently rich with chunks of crunchy, juicy soft shell crab, it was best eaten with a bowl of rice to cut through the creaminess. It was very creamy to the point of cloying and then some.

After our last savoury course, our plates were cleared away by the efficient staff.

Then nothing.

No (promised during table clearing) dessert menu. No drinks.

No nothing.

We managed to get out of our dessert limbo by waving down a waiter, who begrudgingly returned with a menu. Despite the lack of an on-duty pastry chef, the waitstaff, to their credit, assemble good looking desserts.

Beautiful right? Light cream layered with rich, crunchy black sesame cream are punctured with a savoiardi biscuit. The biscuit is used for dipping into the ‘tiramisu’, a sweet and fun way to finish our dinner. The fusion tiramisu was definitely worth the effort and it ended the evening on a high note.

Halu is a good option for japanese fusion, though I’m not sure if it did live up to the rave reviews. I wouldn’t be totally against another meal but I would prefer Satsuki instead.

Most of the dishes had something that fell short or had odd, needless additions (maybe additions for the sake of fusion?). Though the service vanished towards the end of the night, the tuna onsen and the tiramisu made up for it.

Up’s: Very quick kitchen with (somewhat) efficient service. Quality of food is amazing – tuna onsen is superb. Nice dinner for friends who like japanese food and like to experiment a little. Sashimi looked good.

Down’s: Tasteless cheese melted on stuff is just that – tasteless. Average tempura (that’s not necessarily a down, but the tempura should’ve been better). Service is cold and not personable.

Food: 3.5/5
Value: 3.5/5
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: 3.5/5

Ha-lu
Shop 4/401 Oxford St, Mt Hawthorn WA 6016
T: (08) 9444 0577
W: http://halu.net.au

Wed – Sun 6pm onwards

-M

Ha-Lu on Urbanspoon

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