Being a regular at Sushi Edo, a couple months ago, I noticed that a new Gyoza bar was in the process of construction next door. Whilst I had made plans to grab dinner at another restaurant before watching Dr Strange yesterday, once I saw that it had opened, I promptly cancelled my plans for the other restaurant, and told my companions that we definitely had to try this new place. Hato, is situated in a little nook in the hallway in 123 Albert St next to Men Ya Go (if we are lucky, this place may develop into the "new" Elizabeth arcade).
The wall was adorned with quite a few sampuru. All of them appeared to be quite vibrant and captivating, coupled with the variety of dishes on the menu, we had quite a hard time deciding what to order.
Despite the restaurant setup, it was still counter service, and we ordered and got a number, which came as a very cute wooden spatula in a jug.
On the topic of restaurant setups, both my companions and I were very impressed with the decor, which made us almost completely forget that we were sitting in a corporate alleyway in Brisbane.
Other than being super impressed by the decor, I was also very impressed in the speed in which food was served, as my prawn termpura udon came around 10 mins after ordering. Whilst initially being hesitant at the apparently very exorbitant price for a prawn udon (other than in fine dining restaurants, I would't consider a prawn udon to deviate much from the market value of approx $12 per serve, whereas Hato's sold for $18), but given the very generous portion of prawn tempura and sides given (three prawns, enoki mushrooms and one leaf), I found it to be worth the extra couple dollars. The noodles were the delicious square variety (rather than the store bought preserved sour round variety), The tempura were freshly fried, but for some reason not served with tempura sauce though.
Another main we ordered was the Unagi Don, which came with a side of pipi soup. Whilst other places serve just unagi with rice, we really appreciated Hato's interpretation, which came with an additional fried egg, some pickled radish and edamame to give the dish a broader variety of tastes. The unagi was quite delicious, grilled to a crisp on the outside whilst soft and tender on the inside. The soup was light, but very appetising, and came with a fresh pipi flavour.
My third companion got the Yakitori Grill. He found the meal to be very interactive from your initial choice of protein, (yakitori, steak, panko chicken etc), which came with vegetables including brocolini, and the baby carrot, the fried egg to the way you mix your sauce into the meal, this meal is designed for you to play with it. My friend chose the yakitori as the steak was a bit too much for him that day but he noted the chicken was tender and well seasoned. Much to my delight, they gave four skewers (just like the display!) which definitely makes the meal shareable and a refreshing change. The vegetables were cooked in a familiar stir fried fashion but were very vibrant to look at. My friend found the carrot a bit dry but enjoyed the greens. Whilst a bit random my friend found the fried mantou a pleasant addition as it was just the right serving size. The egg was fried well not overdone and well seasoned though small. In terms of the spaghetti my friend was disappointed at the small portion but found them not overdone and a good match with the black pepper sauce which had a pinch of spicy but nothing strong. Overall, with its vibrant colours and so many elements to play with, my friend definitely enjoyed it and would look to try it with other combos of meats.
Other than mains, we also shared a large variety of snacks, which completely filled our table.
The gyoza came with dipping sauce, and the skin was one of the thinnest that I've ever had! Whilst the filling didnt have soup, and wasn't as tasty as Taros, it was still a very good mix, and we really enjoyed it.
We ordered a serve of takoyaki, which cost $10, but came with 8 balls. As a side, I would have preferred the option of a smaller portion for a reduced price, however since there were three of us to finish it off, it wasn't too much. We liked the crispy exterior, and the smooth creamy interior of the takoyaki, but especially appreciated the heated grill, which made sure our takoyaki stayed warm for a little longer.
Our last full sized "side" was the mixed share platter of tempura. It came again with quite a few prawns, but this time had some calamari and also some sweet potato, pumpkin, eggplant and a leaf. Again, it was freshly fried (so much that a companion burn their mouth on when he hastily shoved a piece in his mouth the second it was placed on our table (karma!)). Again the prawns were very big, and fresh, but what we really enjoyed was the super tender calamari, which was one of the softest we had ever tasted.
Price Range: $20 - $30pp