A well-known and traditional foodie area, Geylang has recently seen trendier concepts like cafes setting up shop in the vicinity. The newest addition to the neighborhood is HARU, a modern restaurant with a fresh take on traditional Japanese and Korean dining concepts such as Chazuke, rice bowls and specialty teas. Owned by the siblings behind F&B consultancy firm TwentyNine, it is nestled within the compounds of the historical Old Badminton Hall at 100 Guillemard Road. HARU prominently features a common staple, rice, and serves it in various interpretations with a distinct Japanese and Korean identity in terms of ingredients and both preparation and cooking methods.
“The idea was to allow enjoyment of the ideology and principles that define Japanese and Korean cuisine – freshness, refinedness and well-being, sans the solemn structure in a comfortable and informal setting. We believe that food should be delicious, unpretentious and above all comforting to both the body and soul.” – Benjamin Yong, Co-founder of HARU
HARU’s menu was entirely conceived by the younger of the two Yong brothers, Benedict.
THE STORY BEHIND THE NAME “HARU”
The choice of the name was significant – HARU is a word found in both the Japanese and Korean language. HARU in Japanese means “Spring” and in Korean, “Day”. Benedict focuses on bringing together classic Japanese and Korean flavors in a modern setting with ingredients such as sakura shrimps and bamboo shoots that are reminiscent of the spring season. “We want to feature ingredients in a way that best represents them, and bring warmth to the hearts of our guests with the meticulous thoughts behind our food.”
THA PATH FROM F&B CONSULTING TO FULFILLING THEIR DREAMS
Benedict and Benjamin jointly manage F&B consultancy firm TwentyNine since 2014 and have been involved in some of the unique F&B cafes and restaurants in the city, including Clinton Street Baking Singapore and MAY MAY.
“We were mostly conceptualizing and managing different restaurants for our clients but we were always looking to wholly own and manage our own brand someday. It seemed like an opportune time when we chanced upon the space for HARU. Literally HARU signifies a new dawn or beginning very much for the three of them, both personally as new business owners and professionally as it raises our company profile and presence.
Open from 11:30am to 9pm, except Tuesdays, HARU’s mostly white and light-wood stylish Japanese minimalistic interiors provide two distinctly contrasting dining experiences. During the day, one can easily immerse in this casual and laid-back enclave that is HARU and enjoy the meticulously crafted bowls at affordable prices, ranging from $11 to $14.
LUNCH SELECTIONS: JAP-KOREAN RICE BOWLS
Their lunch menu showcases an interesting selection of staples such as HARU’s house blend of multigrain rice containing nutritious superfoods like buckwheat and millet, classic Japanese pearl rice or chilled soba tossed in a yuzu-soy dressing. Pair these with any one of their many unique combinations of Japanese/Korean toppings. Amongst these are the Bulgogi ribeye with yuzu-pickled brussels sprouts, soy-dashi dressed baby corn and a soft-centered egg, the Salmon with miso-sake dressing that comes with roasted garlic dressed baby pea shoots and marinated bamboo shoots or a healthier option such as the Soy-marinated Tofu with kale, herbed mushrooms and roasted garlic guacamole.
DINNER SELECTIONS: CHAZUKE
As night beckons, HARU takes on a slightly different persona and the dining experience becomes more sophisticated with its modern interpretation of traditional Chazuke. Most mention-worthy would be its Lobster Chazuke, which uses air-flown Bamboo Lobster known for its delicate flavor, rich taste and soft texture. The Lobster Chazuke, lightly poached and served with menma, pickled ginger, spring onions and nori, is accompanied with a Korean tea-soup made with anchovy, kelp and infused with local premium tea blender Tea Bone Zen Mind’s Charcoal Oolong. With a choice of either HARU’s multi-grain rice or Japanese pearl rice, and with a complementary Honey Jujube Tea, this umami set is priced at a wallet-friendly $23. Non-seafood eaters can choose the Mangalica Pork Chasu, which is priced at an even more affordable $18. The Mangalica is Hungarian pork known for its superiority in flavor and succulence and considered by connoisseurs as the Wagyu equivalent of pork.
What makes HARU’s Chazuke experience unique is not just its specially brewed tea-soups but also its accompaniment of fine selection of specialty teas. HARU’s dedication in curating the finest tea selection is heavily influenced by Korean traditional tea houses, while its modern tea-brewing methods that are precise and time-controlled are reminiscent of the spirit of Japanese craftsmen.
A concept by TwentyNine, HARU is scheduled to open in mid-February 2018. HARU offers two distinct dining experiences, the first being affordable crafted bowls showcasing an interesting selection of staples such as HARU’s house blend of multigrain rice containing nutritious superfoods like buckwheat and millet, classic Japanese pearl rice or chilled soba tossed in a yuzu-soy dressing. These are paired with unique combinations of Japanese/Korean toppings such as Bulgogi ribeye, Salmon with miso-sake dressing or Soy-marinated Tofu.
For dinner HARU’s dining experience is slightly different and more sophisticated with its modern interpretation of traditional Chazuke. More luxurious ingredients are used such as in the Lobster Chazuke, which uses air-flown Bamboo Lobster known for its delicate flavor, rich taste and soft texture, or the Mangalica Pork Chasu, using Hungarian pork known for its superiority in flavor and succulence and considered by connoisseurs as the Wagyu equivalent of pork.