Thursday, July 27, 2017

Introduce yourself to the tastes of Japan

 “MINGALABA” is neither an English greeting, like the name of the restaurant, nor Japanese, like the food it serves, but on a recent visit to Japanese restaurant Hello we were greeted warmly with it as soon as we came through the door. The friendly server then showed us to a table rather than leaving us to cast about for one ourselves – always a good way to earn a few extra hospitality marks in my books.

Maki rolls at Hello Japanese. Photos: Moh Moh ThawMaki rolls at Hello Japanese. Photos: Moh Moh Thaw

The room itself was as comfortable as our table. The restaurant is located on busy Narnatdaw Road, but inside feels quiet and relaxed, with a cosy size that’s neither cramped nor cavernous. The decorations are tasteful rather than ornate. Of course, it’s not the furnishings that bring me here so regularly, but the attention to detail is a big part of the success of any memorable Japanese meal.

I’ve been a frequent customer of Hello Sushi ever since it first opened on Inya Road. But this was my first visit at the new location. I decided the best way to test the new surroundings was with an old favourite: avocado maki (K1800). Mayonnaise, crab meat, cucumber and egg are rolled in rice and topped with an avocado slice. It arrived with the familiar smell and taste, but the pulp of avocado was not quite soft enough, so it wasn’t quite up to my high expectations. Of course, it’s not avocado season: I have the same experience when I buy them from the market for the kitchen. I decided I’d better order more dishes to really put the new location through its paces.

Next up was an order of nigiri moriawase (K5800), rice rolls topped with seafood such as prawn, squid, salmon and fish egg. While avocado maki is my go-to dish, this is my husband’s favourite. We both prefer it to sashimi: The portion served up at Hello came out, as always, just as large and as fresh as you could want.

We finished our appetizers just as the main dishes arrived. Ramen dishes are half-price until October 20, so I took advantage by ordering soyu ramen (K1500) mixed with bamboo shoots, vegetables and pork. Served as a soup, the noodles smelled delicious, but the taste became a bit cloying after the bowl was half-finished.

Again, however, my husband had better luck. He smiled delightedly in between bites of his tonkatsu set (K3800), breaded fried pork slices dipped in tonkatsu sauce. The rest of the table was filled with steamed rice, miso, potato salad, shredded cabbage salad with mayonnaise, and sweet-and-sour kimchi.

One thing we didn’t order was drinks, but after we turned down the opportunity, Hello’s staff brought us two cups of green tea, which they attentively refilled each time we emptied them.

Quibbles aside, the food is top-notch and the friendly staff make for a dining experience worth repeating. I know I’ll definitely be returning – and likely before October 20. There’s a spicy ramen I’ve got my eye on for next time.

Hello Maki and Sushi

Narnatdaw Road, Kamayut township, Yangon

Ph: 01 514 010

Food: 8

Drink: n/a

Atmosphere: 7

X-factor: 7

Service: 8

Value for money: 9

Total Score: 8/10

Translated by Thiri Min Htun