IS the lunch sitting a thing of the past?
It seemed that way when I traipsed through Mt Lawley on a wet, Tuesday afternoon.
Nearly all the restaurants in Beaux Lane were shut, as were most on Beaufort Street leading up to the Walcott Street intersection.
I guess it doesn’t make financial sense to open for a few people if you have crippling utility bills, staff shortages, supply chain problems and covid lingering in the background.
Thankfully there are a few Mt Lawley restaurants like Hanami that are still popular enough to open for lunch early in the week.
Situated at the end of a small row of shops and eateries, just up from the Astor Theatre, the Japanese joint was one of the first places I reviewed for the Voice about a decade ago.
It’s still going strong and was pretty busy when I went there on Tuesday lunchtime.
The decor hasn’t changed much in ten years; they still have their gloriously dated red Japanese lanterns, conjuring up images of the 1970s and Bruce Lee doing a roundhouse in Enter the Dragon.
The rest of the place was an ode to neat and tidy, a sort of prosaic middle-of-the-road nothingness that was neither eye-catching or offensive.
Back in the day, Hanami was viewed as a superior but affordable Japanese restaurant, somewhere in-between your bento joints and high-end establishments like Nobu.
The menu had lunchtime specials on Monday-Friday from 11.30am-2.30pm with teriyaki, vegetable roll and tempura sets starting from about $14.90, which was great value and probably accounted for the steady stream of office workers coming in.
But I wanted something a little more adventurous and perused the a la carte menu, which included a nice range of entree, sashimi, sushi, udon and teppanyaki.
It was just warm enough to sit outside – although I’m from Scotland and would probably sunbathe in a nuclear winter – so I nabbed a table in the cosy alfresco, shielded from the elements by a thick cafe blind.
I had not long ordered, firing up my phone to take notes, when the waiter was back with my assorted sashimi (nine pieces
for $17.90) and beef teppanyaki ($25.90).
Probably my fault for not specifying, but I wanted the sashimi as an entree and the teppanyaki as the main.
I just assumed they wouldn’t put a raw fish dish out at the same time as a hot meal.
Anyway, it didn’t matter, as I was mesmerized by the beautifully presented bowl of salmon, tuna and hamachi (yellow tail) sashimi.
The standout was the salmon: a fresh and slightly fatty delight that had glistening flesh.
The tuna was nearly as good and really came to life when combined with the delicious seaweed salad (a vinegary delight).
I rounded things off with the yellow tail, adding some shredded carrot, cucumber and a squeeze of lemon. It didn’t have the flavour punch of the other two, but it was again super fresh and high quality.
The sashimi was a great start, but I kept gazing longingly at my beef teppanyaki, hoping it wasn’t going cold.
Unfortunately it had cooled a little and I didn’t get that buzz of eating something sizzling hot, straight off the chef’s hot plate.
I couldn’t fault the produce though; I ordered the beef medium and it was perfectly cooked with plenty of sliced garlic and onion, creating a lovely fragrant flavour.
The mustard sauce could have had more kick and depth of flavour – it was almost like a gravy – but it was still enjoyable and kept my interest throughout.
The portion was generous and along with the sashimi, it was a very filling lunch.
Has Hanami kept up its high standards?
Barring a few minor quibbles, I would say yes, and it deserves plaudits for withstanding the vagaries of Perth’s dining scene for many years.
It could do with a bit of a revamp, but having survived covid, it’s doing well to still be there at all and serving locals seven days a week.
685 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
by STEPHEN POLLOCK