I’ve never had a weirder dining experience than Hanmoto, and it’s a good-weird! The weirdness starts even before you step foot in the restaurant. How? Well, I wouldn’t say it’s hard to find but it wasn’t exactly easy – good luck trying to find a sign because you won’t find one. Just look for a building façade with 3 red lights and wood paneling. This Japanese izakaya is the sister restaurant to Oddseoul on Ossington.
The restaurant is very small and it only seats about 15 people. Inside, you’ll find more weirdness from the décor to the actual space. The kitchen and the bar run along the far wall, while small tables line the left side. The décor is an interesting collection of vintage items. The whole atmosphere brings me back to Asia’s street food and night market scenery. It’s dark in there. Not a lot of sunlight seep through the crowded windows and the hanging lights don’t help much either. Now I’m curious if the cooks have enough lighting to see what they’re cooking and plating! Hopefully, they’re not straining their eyes.
We were seated in front of the kitchen area and got a sweet view of some garnishes and sauces used in the food. Ordering was pretty hard because of the blasting music, so I suggest pointing at the menu instead of verbal communication… Unless, you enjoy yelling at waiters. My conversations with Sally resulted in yelling too, well maybe raised voices.
We ordered 3 dishes to share: Dyno Wings, Moto Bun, and Katsu Bun. The Dyno wings blew my taste buds away! Visually, I expected a fried chicken wing, tossed in a dark salty sauce. But when I bit into it, I found that it was stuffed with a mixture of meat and deliciousness. Like, woah dude. The flavours were excellent and it got me excited for the other 2 dishes. The sandwich buns were phenomenal. Soft, with a thin crispy crust. It held up well and soaked up the sauces and juices. The Moto Bun consisted of curry chicken and a surprisingly spicy slaw. I thought it could’ve used a bit more filling, but overall, it was a balanced dish. The meat on a Katsu bun was cooked perfectly with a crunchy crust, but the sauce was intensely overpowering. The vinegar or Worcestershire sauce overwhelmed the sandwich and masked the pork flavour.
Our waitress was nice and calm compared to the wacky environment of the restaurant. I had an interesting dining experience in this indoor alleyway restaurant. The food was mysterious and delightful, reflecting the physical space and atmosphere of Hanmoto. It’s a restaurant that thinks outside of the box.