Hanare Japanese Café is like a poorer cousin to the insanely popular Teppei Japanese Restaurant, which requires about 6 months of prior reservation.
Located at the 2nd storey of a shophouse just a few metres away from Orchid Hotel, Hanare offers a Buffet Set ($19.90), or their famed Bara Chirashi Set ($17.60) where you get a bowl of popular sashimi rice with unlimited servings of 4 side dishes and miso soup.
I think Teppei-san is ingenious. Firstly, by offering wholesome affordable and also delicious Omakase sets at $50 (used to be $40). And when it got too well-liked, a buffet restaurant just a distance away seems financially and resourcefully wise to achieve economies of scale.
The décor at Hanare is stripped-down minimalist, with 2-3 staff replenishing dishes and collecting money, and the usual Ayumi Hamasaki type J-pop ballads fading in the background.
The Hanare Buffet Set (S$19.90) is where you get one serving of the main course (could be an Oyaku Don, Curry Rice, Saba Shioyaki etc) and free flow 20+ choices of side dishes which includes sushi, fried items, pickles, chicken cutlets, curry, mapo tofu and many more.
You have to check their FaceBook daily for the main course of the day. Smart ah.
Actually, the taste is not that bad – like Japanese home-cooked food turned cold. But the presentation is so sad-looking, it doesn’t whet your appetitde, reminding one of the leftovers of a typical budget corporate event buffet served in metal trays.
On the other hand… the Bara Chirashi Set ($17.60) is the bomb. I would come back again and again for this, provided that no colleague of mine is willing to queue at Teppei on weekday 11:30am.
The bowl is topped with freshly thick sliced cuts of various fish in generous proportions, and for once, I could ‘complain’ that there is just too much fish.
Though I must add a disclaimer that over at Teppei, the rice feels warmer, sashimi colder and therefore more delicious.
The prices for both the buffet and chirashi don are pretty affordable, and Hanare could have fared better if more thought and effort is put into it. It feels ignored. And why is it Hanare called café again?
Hanare Japanese Café
99B Tanjong Pagar Road Singapore 088520
(Tanjong Pagar MRT. At the 2nd storey of a shophouse about 3-5 min walk away from the original Teppei)
Tel: +65 6222 1976
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2:30pm, 6:30pm – 10:00pm (Mon-Sat, Closed Sun)