Toronto, ON M5R 1B9
Hana is a posh new Japanese restaurant from Aburi Restaurants Canada, the restaurant group behind Miku Toronto and TORA. Tucked in a pedestrian laneway off Yorkville Avenue, Hana offers an intimate, kyō-kaiseki experience, a lavish style of dining that draws on the traditions of Japanese tea ceremonies.
The restaurant’s name comes from a Japanese word meaning “flower,” which conveys “beauty and elegance,” and dinner at Hana is exactly the latter. It’s a hushed and precisely-executed dining experience, defined by exquisitely-plated dishes and omotenashi style hospitality, an extremely attentive style of service that aims to anticipate diners’ needs.
Hana offers two set, 15-course dinners at different price points. Executive chef Ryusuke Nakagawa, who has studied under two master chefs of Kyoto-style cuisine, including a stint at three-star Michelin restaurant Kikunoi in Kyoto, brings a meticulous blend of artistry and expertise to the menu.
Dishes are ever-changing and surprising (diners are not typically presented with menus until the end of the meal), but consistently focus on seasonal ingredients, understated flavours, and playful textures. Many dishes incorporate aburi, or flame-seared, techniques (a signature of the restaurant group – hence its name) to add subtle charred flavours.
Presentation is also a significant part of the experience, with all dishes served on colourful Arita porcelain plateware, some of which was made exclusively for Hana, imported from Japan. It’s as much a multi-act performance as a meal, with dinners typically lasting for 2.5 hours.
Like the food menu, Hana’s drink offerings are unusual and always evolving. Sommelier Alexander Powell has developed a drink program that includes pairings for the two set menu, as well as a la carte options.
“We want to show you how food and drink can intertwine, create harmony on the palate and together create an experience that’s entirely new,” says Powell. The wine and sake lists include many rare and limited release bottles sourced from auctions.
Seating at Hana is divided into a Chef’s Counter room, which offers two seatings per night, and five small private dining rooms that can accommodate between 2-8 guests. The refined, Japanese-inspired interior, designed by Vancouver-based agency Ste. Marie Design, mirrors the restaurant’s elegant menu. Traditional ikebana (Japanese floral arrangements) are dotted throughout the space as a nod to the restaurant’s name.
The Chef’s Counter sees diners sitting side-by-side, ringing a massive open kitchen, with the chefs presenting each dish on an elevated counter. The private dining rooms, called Kakurega, which means “hidden gem” in Japanese, offer individual room temperature, lighting, and music volume controls that diners can use to tweak the ambiance in their private space. Doors are generally left closed, with cameras installed over the tables allowing servers to monitor diners’ potential needs.