After a delightful first encounter with their takoyaki, Hana easily became one of my favorite hangouts in Makati. I find myself meeting up with my insane dollie community friends every few weeks or so, whenever we have a hankering for takoyaki and beer. And while I never fail to order these crisp yet doughy balls stuffed with takoyaki and veggies, I like nibbling on other things on their menu as well.
That’s why when our good friend Y informed us about a renovation accompanied by a change in chef and menu, I became quite curious. Of course, only after she reassured me that the takoyaki will stay on the menu. “The new Japanese chef specializes in fried food so the new menu will be built around that.” An exciting prospect, especially after having seen that No Reservations Osaka episode where Anthony Bourdain was chowing down on stick after stick of fried goodies.
Their new fried selection is superb. I know that frying seems to be a simple task, but executing it to perfection takes skill and I must acknowledge their new chef’s skill. Every dish is fried to a crisp on the outside, but the inside remained tender with a fully locked-in flavor. Even the vegetables remained firm and juicy. And while fried asparagus on a stick sounds like a travesty, truth is, I found myself coming back for seconds.
S-san, Y’s dad, suggested we try more of the fried stuff and we gladly obliged by ordering tonkatsu. I rarely order tonkatsu for myself when dining out, mostly because it’s something I can cook. In fact, the only time I remember ordering tonkatsu recently was in Ginza Bairin, and only because that’s what they specialized in. It’s good we did because it was good tonkatsu. The thick pork fillet was tender and juicy, holding all the pork flavor in, despite being fried to a nice crisp.
Also worth noting was their grilled selection. While they have the usual yakitori featuring chicken thighs and breasts, I went for the more exotic stuff—chicken hearts which were flavorfully tender and chicken breast cartilage which had awesome texture. Great with beer.
Of course, not everything on their menu has been scrapped. A lot of good eats were retained, and one of these was the star of our evening, the Cubic Steak. Think a thick steak, done medium and cut into cubes, served in a savory sauce. Each tender bite yields flavors that spread on the tongue. It’s a memorable experience. If you’re eating solo, the flavor can get overpowering so it’s best to enjoy it with rice.
A couple more dishes graced our table. There was chicken steak with lots of garlic, an omelette, and salads—but honestly, I was too stuffed already, so even if my companions were offering bites of their food, I had to pass.
Halfway through the night, I knew Hana’s new menu items were keepers. I don’t think you can go wrong with anything on their fried selection—they’re particularly awesome with a couple of drinks. The other dishes are excellent if you want to go for something heavier. I wasn’t able to try their sashimi and sushi selection but they have some on the menu if that’s what you’re hankering for. Whatever you’re craving for, drop by soon and discover their new menu for yourself. Oh, but don’t forget the takoyaki.