HANAMI
4.6

Hanami
Conceptually edgy and atmospherically lively, Hanami is a Japanese restaurant located on the 15th floor of the Andaz the Palm. Guests are invited to enjoy dinner, share small dishes, or sip an inventive cocktail while soaking in a cosmopolitan vibe. 

Reservations
While things are a bit quiet when we arrive directly at the opening of Hanami, my dining partner and I are pleasantly surprised to see something of a (socially distanced) crowd at the restaurant by the time we leave.  Reservations seem like a good idea, and you can call ahead on +971 45814037 to inquire.

Parking
As usual, we choose a ride-sharing app.  If driving, guests should avail of the valet parking services at Andaz the Palm (and check ahead to make sure valet is operational with current Dubai health standards).

Greeting and Seating
The restaurant takes up the entirety of the fifteenth floor, and when the elevator doors open, we’re immediately greeted with a bold neon sign.  At the entrance to the restaurant, the GM himself greets us and gives us a quick tour.  We’re impressed by the views on all sides (the Burj Al Arab is especially interesting), and ultimately we choose a seat looking back towards the sparkling marina.

Service
Given our early arrival, we’re well looked after throughout the meal.  Our servers are attentive for not only drinks and food, but also clearing out dirty plates and proactively cleaning the table.  I also always love when servers show pride in their menu, and the team at Hanami is clearly proud of what they have to offer.

Our Order
The menu is straightforward and broken into recognizable standards. Hanami boasts several signature dishes, with some recognizable favorites.  Also, for those who enjoy a craft cocktail, there are plenty of aptly named drinks that fall into the theme of the venue.  Furthermore, should those be interested, there is also a dedicated sake menu. To start, I decide to order a Shinagawa, AED60. The drink is a delicate citrusy blend (and one I would happily order again). My guest chooses the Tsukiji, which blends different flavors, including pineapple juice and yuzu syrup, AED 65.  For those interested, guests might be tempted by the ‘Let the Night Be Gin’ menu.  And yes, there is a lovely collection of mocktails available as well.

For food, to start, we start with a new take on an old favorite.  While there is regular edamame available, we’re so glad that the Robata Edamame, AED33, is suggested.  The grilled element, along with a touch of garlic oil, pushes this familiar appetizer, to another level, and I for one, won’t go back to plain edamame. Next, we order another well-known Japanese street food item, Takoyaki, AED83.  The octopus balls are topped with Bonito flakes and served with sweet and sour sauce.  Is the price point a touch high?  Maybe.  However, the octopus balls are memorable and perfectly cooked.  We’re also given the cleverly presented Maugro Pizza, which features yellowfin tuna, red onion, cherry tomato, and kimchi sauce, AED 105.  Perfect for two people, it’s fun to order (and props because I haven’t seen a dish like it anywhere in town).

As we move on through the menu, rather than choose different Nigiri, Sashimi, and Maki, the team at Hanami is kind enough to put together a sushi platter for us, showcasing a number of the best rolls, which doesn’t disappoint (price on request).  I highly recommend it.

The only dish we don’t care for during the night is the Wagyu Katsu Bun (done in town at plenty of other restaurants, and not hard to find), AED143.  While the presentation is unique, the protein itself is a bit chewy and difficult to eat.  For the price, we would not order it again.  Fortunately, it’s served with an amazing Avocado Tempura, AED72, made even better by the accompanying miso peanut sauce. To accompany these two dishes, we also receive the Bruokkori, a delicious plate of broccolini, shimeji, enoki, BBQ kimchi sauce, and bonito flakes, AED 50.  Honestly, this dish could stand on its own.  Both of the veggie dishes sing, and I would easily order them again.

To end our meal, my dining partner and I decide to split the tempting Fuji Apple Pie, with caramelized puffed rice, vanilla fudge, shortbread crumbs, and sake chantilly, AED 55.  We’re not disappointed and appreciated that the dessert isn’t overly sweet.

Vegetarians should be able to find several items to enjoy, although the focus of most of the menu is towards those who enjoy protein.

Pacing
No complaints.  Food and drinks arrive as expected, we’re not rushed and enjoy a leisurely meal together.

Ambiance
The design of the restaurant leans heavily into elements of Japanese street design with graffiti influenced wall art and neon signs. We’re also a fan of the floor to ceiling windows, which showcase the Palm (hey, we might have lived here for a few years, but we still love a good view). There are plenty of unique spaces within the restaurant, and spots with quirky lighting and art that are certain to end up on Instagram profiles.  Although it’s a bit warm during our visit, the restaurant also has a spacious open-air alfresco terrace.  Perhaps we’ll come back when it’s a bit cooler and enjoy a sundowner.  

Price
For a limited time, guests should check to see if there are any specials available. We spy a 40% discount on the food menu on the website.  While we feel that some of the prices at Hanami are a touch high, everything we tried was of excellent quality.

Overall, would you return?
While there are a number of restaurants on the Palm serving similar fare (Akira Back, Matagi, and Maiden Shanghai all come to mind), we really enjoy the lack of pretension and range of signature dishes at Hanami.  Perhaps you will have a favorite, but when the weather cools off, the Burj views from Hanami will be difficult to beat.

Recommendations
Our suggestion would be to make a booking for sunset and maximize the experience of watching the city transition from day to night.  Also, be sure to order the Takoyaki and the Avocado Tempura, both are excellent dishes.

Disclaimer: MenuPages,ae was a guest of this establishment.