HANA: First Look at the New Yorkville

by Renee Suen

Yorkville’s latest restaurant openings include a culinary overhaul and a treat straight from Japan.

Aspiring to become one of the country’s top restaurants, Aburi Restaurants Canada owner Seigo Nakama introduces a brand new Japanese fine-dining experience to the heart of Yorkville.

Known for crowd-pleasing Miku Toronto and refined conveyorbelt sushi Tora, the group’s first luxury concept brings Executive Chef Ryusuke Nakagawa, formerly of three Michelin-starred Kikunoi in Kyoto, to helm the discrete location’s kitchen.

Hana’s lower level dining room is clad in refined finishes. Vancouver-based design agency Ste. Marie Design was responsible for the serene interior that was purposefully designed to bring a piece of Kyoto to Toronto. Named after Nakama’s daughter, Hana also means flower, beauty and elegance in Japanese—further honoured through traditional ikebana (Japanese floral arrangements) by a local floral artist.

Focused on the principles of Kyoto-based kaiseki, the traditional multi-course meal is more than food, there’s also a heavy emphasis on art. Here, fresh seasonal ingredients are cooked precisely and presented on exquisite Aritayaki (famed Japanese porcelain plate ware that are handmade in Arita, Japan).

The restaurant offers two menus, each with 15 courses that alternate between creative nigiri and thoughtfully prepared cooked dishes that incorporate some of the finest ingredients procured locally and from Kyoto. Specifically, heirloom vegetables that Nakagawa describes as having a “richer taste,” like the Miyazaki green pepper found on the opening wagyu dish. Coming in summer, there will be hamanasu (Japanese eggplant) that Nakagawa says is unlike any in North America due to its softer skin. Besides a reservation-only Chef’s Counter that serves up to 16 people at each of its two nightly seatings, there are five Kakurega (Japanese for hidden gem) private dining rooms that can accommodate two to eight guests.

Changing monthly, the current $195 Aburi Kyō-Kaiseki offers dishes like a silky Quebec foie gras chawanmushi, and seared Amadai urokoyaki that’s a marvel of crispy intact “crystalized” fish scales blanketed over the delicate tilefish’s flesh. The $330 Hana Kyō-Kaiseki dinner lasts between 2 to 2.5 hours and features more premium ingredients from Hokkaio uni to black truffle wagyu nigiri over uni shari (seasoned sushi rice).