Lunch: Haru Hana adds a new Japanese option in Koreatown

January 4th, 2010
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This afternoon I had lunch at the new Japanese restaurant in KoreaTown, Haru Hana. It calls itself a Japanese Pub and stocks many of the izakaya favorites I know and love, but the decor and crowd, particularly on a Monday afternoon was much more subdued than all that.
Signs prominently advertise that they are open 24 hours a day, so I’ll have to report in again after a late night visit. In the meantime, here’s what I had for lunch.
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I passed on the katsu and udon, which I’ve had quite a bit of in the last month or so and chose a broiled eel rice bowl. I love Unagi. The sweet syrup that coats the top of the eelskin and gets soaked up by the rice is a thing of beauty.
I also tried a couple of the skewers to see what that was all about. Here I had one with bacon-wrapped sausages and the other with chicken and garlic. The sausages were sweetly tangy , like those I had the last time I visited Go Go Curry. Being wrapped in bacon, it’s an automatic win. The chicken skewers sported leg meat and garlic cloves toasted until the two were visually indistinguishable. Thankfully, I noticed the different in texture before biting into the garlic by mistake. The flavors may have mellowed out as it grilled, but I don’t think my co-workers would really appreciate the difference
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I do have to say one thing about the yakitori. They were wonderful, but after years of eating Japanese skewers at izakaya after izakaya, I have come to expect an open kitchen where I can watch the flames lap at the meat leaving bits of char and juices dripping. When I don’t see them, it doesn’t detract from the experience exactly, but I notice that it’s not there.
Really though, it’s not hard to tell when you look at the space. The restaurant is shotgun-style, like many of the other ground floor spaces on the block. There’s precious little space to offer up for the ceremony of open cooking.
The menu is widely varied, with everything from Tonkatsu to Udon to Yakitori to sushi. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. Most Japanese restaurants tend to focus on one cuisine and do it really well, so it’s a little unusual. That said, the dishes I had were wonderful and I’ll be happy to work my way through the menu to take advantage of the of all that variety.
Haru Hana
28 W 32nd St
Between Fifth Ave and Broadway
KoreaTown
212.736.5393

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