Osaka | Hajime
Named after the chef-owner Hajime Yoneda, Hajime is one of the most famous restaurant in Osaka, Japan. The restaurant was opened in May 2008 and was honred 3 Michelin stars in only one and a half years. Chef Hajime Yoneda studied engineering when he was in university as he doesn't want to obey his parents expectations. However, his real dream is to become a chef. Finally he decided to saved up money to go to culinary school. In 2002, he moved to Paris and when he came back in Japan again, he was trained at Michel Bras Toya in Hokkaido before he opened Hajime.Hajime served food cooked in a classcial French way, infused with a Japanese twist and Yoneda-san's unique understanding of all the nature creations.
Visited: Nov.19.2015 (Dinner)
Address: 1-9-11 Edobori, Nishi-ku, Osaka
Hours: 17:30~20:30 (last seating)
Damage: Vegetable Tasting 26,250 / Tasting Menu Standard 32,400 / Tasting Menu Short 21,600 (exlude tax and service charge)
Wine pairing short 10,800 / Wine pairing half 16,500 / Wine pairing standard 26,800
Hajime is one of he few restaurants that totally ban cameras to make sure the food is served at the right temperature with the best texture and flavors. Well, i know we should focus on the food instead of taking pictures, but it is hard for me to eat without shooting as a food blooger. Thus i emailed the restaurant in advance and i was allowed to take pictures of two dishes. It sounds a bit offensive but i got pictures for all the dishes. Sorry for the chef that i broke the rules, only one shoot every dish, within one second,
The restaurant is quite small, around 7 tables of two and a private room, Reservation can me made on their official website and you have to choose the menu when you submit the online reservation form.
Hajime serveds three different menus: a short version of the full menu, a vegetarian course, and the full menu. We picked the full menu because the short one doesn't include the moust famous 'EARTH" dish, But we didn't realized that the reception staff made a mistake on our reservation and served the short menu for us, unitl we finished our main dish.More details coming later... We also had the wine pairiing for our menu.
We started with a glass of mushroom consomme with diced mushroom inside. It was covered with the Sakura leaf to give a feeling of the autumn, We were told to finish it as soon as possible,. It was so hot but the server just stood there by our table waiting for us to finish, so i didn't shoot bbefore i eat, and sadly my tongue got hurt a bit because of that. Back to the food, soup was clean and deeep in mushroom flavor, but nothing surprised us. Missed the mushroom consomme at Jaan, Singapore.
Next came baked baby potato with abalone. The stuffed abalone soup with milk and diced abalone was very umami, the flavor was sync with the natural sweetnesss of the potato. Beautiful.
First dish of the night was a fillet of raw salmon, side with ikura (salmon roe). The salmon itself was fork tender, so creamy and rich in oils, probably my favoriate salmon dish by far. Ikura was very fresh and wwas full of umami juices with a sweet aftertaste. he caramelized crisp on the top was in a salmon shape, so cute.
The freshwater prawn was pperfect for my liking no matter in texture or flavor, the skin was incredible scripsy and not oily at all. While the prawn inside was medium cooked, the almost raw texture was creamy and end with a sweet aftertaste. However, the surrounded greens was not very impressive.
Followed by a cold foie gras dish which was pretty creamy and refreshing, and sweet-and-sour Japanese pickles paired well with the foie gras. TThe black pepper(s) on the side were arranged from large to small which was interesting but didn't make much different in flavor.
'HOPE' was divided into two parts. Before serving the main course, we were served the Japanese knotweed sorbet to cleanse our palate. It waas okay for me but my partnerdon't like the weired flavor of the herb. So so.
The main dish was roated Challandais duck from France which was perfectly roasted, the sauce from the duck itself paired very well with the duck. The turnip sauce (white) was creamybut didn''t help much on the flavor side, while the celery cream as well as the juicy and sweet fig were quite lovely. Good.
"May i ?"
"Next is dessert."
What? Where is my "Earth" dish? I didnt read the menu until i was told next dish is dessert, because i know the server would introduce each dish and i never thought they would make a mistake on the menu we chose. I showed the manager the email i received from the reception when i make the reservation, and it clearly said 'Menu Standard", which is the full menu, but we had the Menu Short. It was a 5-dish-difference and as we have already finished the main, it is quite hard to added in those 5 dishes, not even Earth, because it will affect the consistecy of the entire course.
"We are so sorry for that."
And that's it. WTH.
By far the food was okay but much below what we expected, although my partner had been there twice alrady. Both of us were not in a very good mood as the restaurant made this kind of mistake, as a Michelin-2-starred and No.14 of Asia's 50 Best restaurants, unbelieveable.
The first dessert indicates the harvest of the season, pear was well-poached, very soft and juicy. The chestnut cream also works well, as well as the crumbled chocolate cookie. The caramelized camellia leaf was so amazing (not the taste), it was caramelized while you can see all the veins of if, it taste super crispy. The only down side of the dish was again, a weired herb coated with chocolate, it was too strong and we couldn't find a balance of the dish.
The only highlight part afterwards was the famous wine Chateau d'Yquem 1999, perfect with the dessert.
My partner and i was talking about RyuGin's sake souffle, which is my favorite souffle ever. After a few we were astonished to see a dish of yuzu souffle in front of us, side with bana ice cream, matcha cookie and chocolate crumbles. The entire dish looks like the galaxy, pretty.
Before taste the souffle, i thought i would like it because the texture was pillow-soft. But, but, it was so sour that we couldn't even finished it. The banana ice-cream and the matcha cookie on the side was pretty lovely. In general, very impressive, because it was too sour.
Feel so happy to see another spread of sweets, although i was kind of scared by that point. The petit includes chestnut meringue, apple candy, mascarphone cheesetart, raspberry pudding,, rose chocolate and cottom candy. Not bad except the cotton candy is nothing different from the cotton candy you can buy everywhere.
The food at Hajime was actually not bad, but we really don't like those weired herbs we had in most dishes. Besides that, the main part of each dish was perfect. The service was certainly good, ambiance was quite nice as well. But in general, the food at Hajime is much below what i expected. In comparison, Fujiya 1935 impressed me more, and was much worth of value. Maybe the full course would be better but i believe that a good restaurant won't missed any chances to impress the guests.