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Rondebosch’s new neighbourhood gem, Haru Korean Restaurant – reviewed

Fast facts

Cost: The average main meal is R95
Serves: Korean and Japanese fare
Star rating: Food and drink 4, service 4, ambience 4

Haru in Rondebosch could be your new neighbourhood haunt. Photo by Graham Howe.

Since opening in early December 2017, this delightful little restaurant has taken off like a rocket. Haru has a double meaning: ‘spring’ and ‘glory days’. Living up to its smart moniker, it has blossomed overnight, bringing exotic flavours to the suburbs, joining a cheek-by-jowl culinary row of neighbouring bistros such as Some Oaks Bistro and Michael’s Kitchen and Bar, and Chuck Yang’s Specialty Dish. Graham Howe reviews.

Food

Opened by Korean restaurateur Denis Sung and experienced Korean chef Karen Hwang, Haru has a menu that tempts with delicious ramen, udon and soba noodle broths – served with a wooden ladle to share – as well as piquant Korean specialties like bibim naengmyeon broth, a delicious cold, spicy noodle bowl served with steamed beef, chilli paste, sesame and pickled radish.

The covered outside tables offer fresh air. Photo by Graham Howe.

Korean and Japanese culinary influences complement each other on the menu. For starters, share a platter of yaki gyuza dumplings, filled with finely shredded and divinely spiced steamed pork and chives. Most of the sushi, tempura and dumpling dishes come in four or eight pieces, so are good to share on attractively presented wooden batons.

You will love the delicate flavours of the ton-kotsu ramen, one of the house specialties: a pork-bone and pork-belly broth served with a seven-minute egg, bean sprouts and nori.

Vegetarians will enjoy tofu broth, ramen bowl, seasonal vegetable tempura and vegetarian sushi (all highlighted with a V). All dishes pop with freshness, delicacy and layers of flavour.

Favourites on the sushi side of the menu, served with a choice of light or salted soya, are the tempura prawn California rolls, the velvety flaming salmon and crispy torched tuna rolls – all twice seared. You have to go back to continue exploring the menu, especially the donburi rice bowl topped with katsu, a breaded cutlet of chicken, salmon, tuna or vegetable. No desserts.

Drinks

Haru is currently unlicensed, so bring your own. There’s a great selection of gourmet Japanese tea, from sencha and genmaicha (flavoured with toasted rice and barley) to sakura cherry-flavoured and oolong jasmine tea infused in teapots at table.

The restaurant is unlicensed, but try one of the teas. Photo by Graham Howe.

Ambience

Laid-back and relaxed, this neighbourhood eatery is very family friendly. Haru’s décor is minimalist with bright pastel tones, blonde wooden cladding and streamlined grey hues. There are intimate bistro-style tables inside, plus a covered street-side terrace for fresh-air fiends.

Service

Warm and efficient, with good advice on Korean house specialities and ingredients.

And…

To experience the full menu, share sushi platters or sample the great-value bento and katsu lunch boxes. The bill includes an automatic 10% service charge. Sushi is also available as takeaway.

Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.

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