Opened a little bit more than a month ago in Little Portugal is Hanmoto, a modest izakaya-style snack bar from the team behind OddSeoul on Ossington. Unlike OddSeoul, which specializes in Korean-American style small plates, owner and executive chef Leemo Han is serving Japanese-inspired snacks at Hanmoto.
Tucked away on Lakeview Avenue just off on Dundas West, Hanmoto is discrete and very cozy. To the left is the main room with the kitchen, bar and 80% of the seating (above) and to the right is the remaining 20% seating (below).
All the tables were already taken before 6:30pm on a Wednesday night so we took the remaining two seats at the bar. Even better. I am really diggin' the vintage, grungy-garage decor here, by the way.
The drinks menu at Hanmoto consists of mainly beer with a few cocktails, sake and two wines by the glass (one red, one white).
The small food menu is simple; it's separated into cold and hot items and one dessert. You can easily try everything if you're with 2-3 friends.
Since it was just my friend and I we couldn't try everything so we ordered fives plates and one dessert to share:
Sea urchin roe, chicken skin chips, sushi rice
NASU DENGAKU ($8)
Japanese eggplant, fried beets, miso hollandaise
HAMACHI TARTARE ($12)
Sweet chili ponzu, shiso, avocado
DYNO WINGS ($8)
Spicy tare, pork dumpling stuffed into a giant chicken wing
MOTO BUN ($7)
Japanese curry chicken, Jamaican slaw, coco bun
MISO ICE CREAM ($7)
Nori powder, toasted rice balls
Everything I had at Hanmoto was pretty great. If you're a sea urchin fanatic like myself then the Uni Bomb is a must. It's basically a DIY hand-roll that you fill with luscious uni tongues, salmon roe, warm sushi rice and crispy chicken skin (as I'm typing this I think I'll order one for myself next time. No sharesies.) The Nasu Dengaku was the only veg dish we had and it's something I would want to have all the time. Soft eggplant topped with miso hollandaise and strings of crispy fried beets, it was absolutely delicious. And so was the Hamachi Tartare with avocado, sweet chili ponzu, and shiso. Finished with chopped scallions and nori slivers, the hamachi was tart, citrus-y and very appetizing. Love wings? Then do not miss the Dyno Wings. Served in a red paper box with Chinese characters that say "delicious", these wings are first deboned, stuffed with ground pork, then deep fried and slathered in a spicy sauce. Very "好味" indeed. The Moto Bun made with fried coco bun, Japanese curry chicken and Jamaican slaw was probably my least favourite item. There was way more slaw than chicken curry in mine and the whole thing was almost impossible to share. Finally, Miso Ice Cream with nori powder for dessert. How they even thought of this flavour combo is beyond me but all you need to know is that it works...it's actually incredibly awesome. The combination of miso ice cream and nori powder gives an essence of both savoury and sweet (more savoury than sweet) and the toasted rice balls a tiny crunch with each bite, cutting the richness of the ice cream.