Intimate new Izakaya-style Japanese restaurant, Hana, opens on Geelong’s Malop Street

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Intimate new Izakaya-style Japanese restaurant, Hana, opens on Geelong’s Malop Street

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Prepare for melt-in-your-mouth Japanese dishes, refreshing sake and rich Japanese whisky.

There’s something about Geelong and its adoration of Japanese cuisine. Whether it’s our passion for rating a good ramen, a night with sakes and rare whiskies, or that we simply love to tear into yakitori, our love affair with Japanese food is something that continues to grow, helped along by the high-quality local restaurants we’ve got access to.

All that being said, there’s always room for more. And this June we were graced with the addition of an excellent – and creative – take on the cuisine with Hana Japanese Restaurant.

Keep up with the latest food and booze news across the region here.

Opening in mid-June, Hana has nestled itself into the heart of Geelong, taking over the space at 35 Malop Street, right next door to the Italian joint La Porchetta.

Taking a minimalist approach to Japanese design, the space is elegant yet cosy, featuring oak surfaces, intimate booths (for added intimacy), a warm palette of brown tones, textured plaster, and a soft glow from the intricate feature lights. Inspired by Japanese minimalism, the less is more approach pays off in spades.

The welcoming and cosy atmosphere here is well suited to the Izakaya-style dining Hana aims to deliver. Ubiquitous in Japan, an izakaya is a place where people come to unwind with co-workers and friends. More like a tapas bar or gastropub than just a bar, at an izakaya, you take your pick from beer, whiskey, sake, and a wide variety of Japanese (and not-so-Japanese) foods.

And that’s exactly what you’ll find at Hana. Here, share plates are king and you can expect a carefree and interactive dining experience, featuring a dynamic and playful menu fusing together modern, traditional and energetic flavours with innovative execution. Each visit to Hana promises to be unique as their ambitious chefs constantly revolve the menu around the freshest produce and seasonal ingredients.

To start, dive into Edamame, pork gyoza (or prawn, or veggie), Tori Karaage (AKA fried chicken dice in Japanese style), Yakitori (chicken skewer), Japanese fried chicken wings, crab claw, deep-fried oysters, miso soup, or a Wakame Salad. That’s barely scraping the entree menu too: Hana is serious are serving an extensive and intensive introduction to authentic and traditional Japanese cuisine.

Catering to the region’s love for soul-warming ramen, Hana serves bowls and bowls of it. There’s Hakata Chashu Pork ramen, Wagyu Yakuza Ramen, Hakata Pork Gyoza, Tokyo Tofu (in soy broth), or the Hakata Chicken Karaage in a creamy pork broth. If Udon is more your style, there’s Teriyaki chicken Udon, beef udon and tempura udon, all with delicious bok choy and udon noodle soup. There’s also a dry ramen dish in the Teriyaki Salmon which looks like a must.

You’ll also find a menu dedicated to Don, featuring Oyako don, spicy teriyaki chicken don, Ontama original beef don, as well as a selection of curry.

While you soak up your surroundings and indulge in the food, sip sake, Umeshu or a Japanese whisky. The restaurant offers impressive selections of all, with particular highlights being Hibiki and The Yamazaki on the whisky front. As for the sake, well you’ll have your work cut out for you trying to decide. Our tip? Go on a Friday night and work your way through the list. No regrets.

There’s also a selection of beer and cider, as well as soft drinks, sparkling water, iced tea and juice. And the best part? Each Saturday and Sunday, stop by Hana Japanese Restaurant for happy hour from 3 PM to 5 PM featuring $10 per person unlimited tap beers or warm sake. Happy hour doesn’t get much happier than this!

Settle in, and enjoy the unforgettable premium Japanese dining experience of Hana’s innovative and changing seasonal dishes. A hidden gem, Hana is perfect for your next date night or gathering with fellow Geelong foodies. Thank us later.

Hana Japanese is located at 35 Malop Street Geelong and is open Monday to Thursday from 11am-3pm and 5pm-8:30pm; Friday 11am-3pm and 5pm-9:30pm; Saturday 11am-9:30pm; and Sunday 11am-8:30pm. 

Find out more and explore the menu via the website here