HANA DON with its Markham location at Cachet Centre(Woodbine x 16th Ave) has really struck a note with those who know good seafood. They are renowned for their exquisite Donburi, which are comforting rice bowls seasoned with a slightly acidic vinegar, and adorned with treasures of the sea. HANA DON‘s philosophy is to embody the authentic simplicity and decadence of Japanese cuisine.
Much of their ingredients actually come direct from Japan, but also bring the best of local yields. That commitment to quality has been a success story, spawning a second location at North York’s Fairview Mall, which after some delays due to the Pandemic, finally just had its official grand opening. Those south of Markham are in for a real treat.
The modern space on the south side of the mall (facing Sheppard Avenue) carries with it some of the clean elegance its Markham location has, with several of their greatest fan favourites returning for the 416/647 set.
We had the pleasure of trying Customer Top Pick TOYOSU DON. This is a bowl of Sushi Rice, topped with seared premium fish (today it was salmon and white fish), a quail egg and Thai Spicy Mayo. Already armed with a potent ball of Wasabi, all you have to do is stir-in a bit of their premium Soy Sauce with a spoon, and it’s ready to serve. And how perfect is that little Tamago (sweet egg omelette) donning their branding? Simple, flavourful and with balance of fire, it is easy to see why this is a fan fave.
While one might not think to come here for anything but Seafood, we also were able to try the SOUS VIDE BEEF DON. The product of a slow-cook on low heat and vaccum suction, the beef accompanied by peppers and mushrooms, was breathtakingly tender and flavourful, never out-competed for a moment. The beef is the undisputed star of the dish, and a hidden treasure on the Menu.
If you love Uni, HANA DON is just for you. Their famed UNI DON is part of their Premium Don Menu and loaded with local Sea Urchin and a gold leaf. And their real showstopper is their LOBSTER BOOM DON, which is topped with a fresh Canadian lobster and cheese sauce, giving their Don a real Hong Kong-style flare.
Everyone knows a bowl of rice is made perfect by an Umami bowl of Miso Soup and theirs is a delight. Each Donburi comes with a bowl.
The Fairview location also has an outdoor patio, offering additional seating options when the weather is great this Summer. Though this new addition to the family is still finding its rhythm like its big sister, it makes it awful convenient for you to experience some of that HANA DON magic if the venture north is a bit far.
…and guess what? We love HANA DON so much that we ventured back north to the Woodbine x 16th Avenue location in Markham again for another visit! And true to form, they set the benchmark for excellence. Such a special night out celebrating my Mom’s Birthday, and she also was so impressed.
Some of the exclusives available only to this location we tried.
The PEARL ROLL is absolute perfection. This roll contains assorted fish, tobiko, avocado and a cruchy topping with chopped Toro (Fatty part of the Tuna) and Scallion. But what ties this all together magically is that special Yuzu Miso Sauce. I literally could just order this and be incredibly happy.
Another exclusive to Markham is their SHICHIMI-FRIED SOFT-SHELL CRAB, which is a breaded fried Soft Shell Crab on a base of chilis and peppers. You know how much I love spice and heat, so this was just right for me, though it is a nod to Cantonese cuisine if you love Salt & Pepper Shrimp.
But of course, onto the heavy hitters. While local Uni supply was limited on my visit, fortunately there was enough to ordera HOKKAIDO DON, which is a Donburi topped with Uni (Sea Urchin), Ikura (Red Caviar), Hokkaido Scallop, Shiitake, with a ball of Wasabi and Tamago. Such a harmonious balance of flavours and textures, a masterpiece. So satisfying.
The real showstopper though is the LOBSTER DON, which comes with a Chef’s Recommendation. And we tasted exactly why. Each meaty, perfectly-picked Canadian Lobster weighs-in at 1.5 lb, and baked with a tangy Cheese Sauce. If you love Tomalley (that fatty, green substance found in Lobster), there’s a little pocket of that nestled-in there. Again, a nod to Cantonese cuisine and simply sensational.
The ambience here is versatile in that it can be a date night, a night out with friends or a family dinner, all the same. The level of Customer Care is fantastic, with staff knowledgable about the Menu and open to offering recommendations based on your tastes. They even brought my Mom a slice of their Mango Cheesecake, knowing it was her Birthday. Beyond gracious!