Surprising thing about new Japanese restaurant
THERE were two big surprises for the young couple who opened Hanasaku, Stanthorpe's only Japanese restaurant a month ago.
The first was how popular it would be, the second was how much customers at their Davadi Street restaurant already knew about Japanese food.
Owner and chef, Sung Ho Kim is Korean but did his restaurant training in Osaka in Japan and admits that he deliberately took a cautious approach when devising the carte.
"I only made the menu small as I didn't know what people would like,” he said.
"I wanted to take it step by step.”
He was so inspired by local customer appreciation of Japanese food that a menu expansion is planned for August.
While Ho is in the kitchen, his partner, Jin Young Choi works front-of -house and the pair were so concerned that customers understand the food, they made sure their waitresses had good English so they could explain it to them.
But that turned out not to be necessary.
"People already know the names, we were so surprised.”
Those dishes were things like tonkatsu, the breaded pork cutlet and chicken karaage, balls of crunchy, deep-fried chicken and katsu curry, which is tonkatsu served with the distinctive thick, sweetish curry sauce that can be found all over Japan.
The pair also found that many people have a good understanding of Japan and its food, as they may have visited the country on a holiday or on an exchange as a student and have eaten Japanese food before.
The sushi is popular, particularly at lunchtime, and Ho says it is made freshly twice per day.
At first, he said he was "a bit afraid” about how sushi would be received.
"I was worried that if we made it we might have to throw it away,” he said.
"I didn't think Australians would eat raw fish.
"I'm surprised that Stanthorpe people like sushi so much.”
Another thing that Ho and Young were concerned to get right was the teamwork. There is a team of six, including two chefs and they wanted to make sure everything was working before they expanded.
"With a big menu, teamwork is difficult,” said Ho.
"There are many more things to prepare for the customers.”
"I am very comfortable with the teamwork now.”
Apart from salmon sushi, which comes with cream cheese or avocado, other varieties such as chicken and avocado, pork and vegetable, and teriyaki chicken are also available. Less well-know are the inari sushi which are pockets of tofu skin stuffed with rice and topped with an ingredient such as fish roe.
Other dishes include ramen, which is a hearty soup made from a simmered pork stock with noodles, a slice of pork, a boiled egg and a vegetable garnish and gyoza dumplings. Typically served as an appetiser, gyoza are mouth-sized morsels with a soft skin filled with minced pork or prawn. They are a great favourite with children while a larger portion makes a satisfying lunch or light meal.