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Blink and youíll miss it. Located on Lakeview Ave, just off of Dundas St, this Japanese snack and cocktail bar is easily missed. And it would be a shame to miss it.

Hanmoto (@HANMOTO_) doesnít have any signage on the exterior of the restaurant, so keep your eyes peeled for an unmarked building near the intersection. Itís a pretty low-key spot with an open L-shaped kitchen, dim lighting and a grungy dive-like feel to it. The space isnít very large (maybe seating 25 or so people), so plan accordingly. The three of us visited on a Tuesday and arrived right when they opened at 6pm. By the time we left, there was a waitlist going.

The exterior

The exterior

This izakaya-style restaurant is brought to us by Leemo Han who is also the co-owner of the Korean fusion snack bar Oddseoul located on the Ossington strip. Alongside Leemo, youíll find Chef Joe Kim (from <http://wherejessate.com/2013/03/electric-mud-bbq/”>Electric Mud BBQ) and bartender Ihn Huh (from Swish by Han which closed last year).

The interior

The interior

The short menu is divided into several sections: raw, hot and special items with prices ranging from $7 to $15. For those of you who need to end every meal with a dessert, they offer miso ice cream for dessert.

Like the food menu, their cocktail menu is on the small side, offering only 4 signature cocktails ($12-$13 each). They also offer a selection of bottled and canned beer.

The menu

The food menu

I started out with the Arisaka Sour – Sencha green tea infused gin, lemon, yuzu, cucumber ($12) which was light, refreshing and just what I was looking for. Another light and refreshing option is the North Town Nashi – Mizu shochu, lime, shiso, Asian pear ($13).

The Arisaka Sour and North Town Nashi

The Arisaka Sour and North Town Nashi

The last cocktail we tried was the Cherry Bakudan – cherry infused bourbon, lemon, egg white, cherry liqueur ($13) which turned out to be our favourite. Iím a sucker for egg white cocktails!

Cherry Bakudan

Cherry Bakudan

As far as food goes, we ordered everything from the raw section except the oysters. First up was the Salmon Aburi – torched salmon & sushi rice ($10). This do-it-yourself dish was a great way to start things off. It arrived in a mound of rice with torched chunks of salmon and topped with green onions and roe. Served with sheets of nori on the side, you basically build your own salmon cone. Dip it in the accompanying soy sauce and wasabi and youíve got yourself one tasty bite.

Salmon Aburi

Salmon Aburi

Up next was the Hamachi Tartare – sweet chill ponzu, shiso, avocado ($12) which I enjoyed even more than the aburi. With the sweet chili ponzu, dash of citrus, chunks of avocado, garlic chips and strips of nori, the tartare consisted of the perfect amount of each ingredient.

Hamachi Tartare

Hamachi Tartare

Since weíre all big fans of uni, ordering the Uni Bomb – sea urchin roe, sushi rice, chicken skin crisps ($15) was a no brainer. Like the salmon aburi, this was another do-it-yourself dish with the accompanying pieces of nori.†What’s not to like about this dish? Delicious pieces of uni, bursts of roe and the decadent fried chicken crisps.

Uni Bomb

Uni Bomb

From the hot section of the menu, we ordered the Nasu Dengaku – Japanese eggplant, fried beets, miso hollandaise ($8). I love Japanese eggplant and this was no exception. The eggplant was cooked to a soft and smooth texture which was complemented nicely by the crunchy fried string of beets.

Nasu Dengaku

Nasu Dengaku

Another veggie dish we ordered was the Enoki with Miso Butter – ponzu, scallions ($7). It arrived on a sizzling plate and the cluster of mushrooms was topped with a large chunk of butter which quickly melted onto them. It was a solid dish but I didnít find this to be particularly memorable.

Enoki with Miso Butter

Enoki with Miso Butter

Hanmoto offers two buns (aka sandwiches) on the menu. We arrived starving so naturally, we ordered both of them. First up was the Katsu Bun – 24hr pork belly, panko crusted, soy remoulade & lettuce ($7). The pork belly is cooked sous-vide before being fried, so when you bite into it, it immediately falls apart and melts in your mouth. Needless to say, itís an incredibly rich sandwich. Iím normally a big fan of pork belly but I just thought this sandwich was okay. But Mike really enjoyed it. To each their own!

Katsu Bun

Katsu Bun

The other bun on the menu is the Moto Bun – Japanese curry chicken, Jamaican slaw, coco bun ($7). Itís essentially a Japanese-take on the Sloppy Joe. And boy is it ever sloppy. You can forget about eating this gracefully or sharing it. We asked for a knife to divvy up the sandwich and to my surprise they said they donít have knivesÖ.Anyway, I thought it was pretty tasty although it probably couldíve used a bit more curry chicken and a little less slaw.

Moto Bun

Moto Bun

The last dish to arrive was the Dyno Wings – spicy tare, pork dumplings, fried into a giant chicken wing ($8) which comes with two per order in a cute little takeout box. The dumpling-stuffed wings were super crispy and I really enjoyed the house made spicy sauce that it was tossed in.

Dyno Wings

Dyno Wings

Sure, there were some dishes more memorable than others but on the whole, we had a great time. If you’re looking for a low-key bar with tasty bites, Hanmoto is well worth a visit!

At a glance:

  • Brought to us by Leemo Han, the co-owner of Oddseoul (the Korean fusion snack bar on the Ossington strip); Hanmoto is the Japanese version
  • Izakaya-style; small Japanese tapas ($7-$15) and cocktails ($12-$13)
  • Low-key spot; dark, grungy and dive-like
  • Located on Lakeview, just west of Dundas and Ossington; easily missed (no exterior signage)
  • Open from 6pm till 2am Monday to Saturdays; Closed Sundays

Ratings (out of 5):

  • Food: 3.5 stars
  • Service: 2 stars
  • Atmosphere: 3 stars

Hanmoto on Urbanspoon



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