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Locals keep ‘discovering’ Haru even though it’s been around a couple of years – perhaps because of its unassuming frontage, low-key ambience and the fact that finding such authentic and pleasing Asian cookery in your own suburban neighbourhood continues to be a delightful surprise.
Owner Dennis Sung and head chef Karen Hwang can now add ‘consistent’ to their list of accomplishments, as repeat visits offer the same soothing bowls of ramen, and delicious gyoza – Japanese dumplings with soft tops, juicy fillings and lightly pan-crisped bottoms.
Served in groups of eight, with a choice between pork and vegetable or chicken and mushroom, a plate or two to share is a lovely way to start your journey through the expansive (but no too expansive) menu.
Consensus among locals is that the sushi is everything it should be, but real joy is to be found in the noodles section. It is hard to imagine a misfortune that Haru’s deeply fragrant bowls of ramen cannot remedy. Shoyu ramen – delicately flavoured broth topped with barbecued pork belly, spring onions, bean sprouts, nori and the obligatory boiled egg – delivers the ultimate comfort food experience. Tempura udon is another crowd-pleaser, with thicker udon noodles and crisp tempura vegetables adding texture to the light, delicious broth.
If you’re keen to extend your range of Japanese flavours, do try the ton-katsu – a crumbed and fried pork cutlet with a thick, fruity curry sauce and a sesame-dressed cabbage salad that’s so good you’ll ask for an extra helping.
Don’t worry about saving space for dessert – there isn't any.
Haru is unlicensed, so you’re welcome to bring your own, but it’s more fun to try one of the Japanese teas on offer and enjoy the ritual of having your tea infused at your table. It comes with a tiny hourglass to let you know when your tea is ready to pour.
Low-key and fairly efficient, but if you’re a newcomer to Japanese and Korean cuisine and would like some help navigating the menu, you’re very much on your own.
The unostentatious simplicity of blonde-wood tables combined with white, black and grey is as soothing as the ramen.
A midweek pick-me-up that’s just down the road.
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A great little gem in the burbs! (Just avoid the school rush from neighbouring Rondebosch Boys if you can...) The main offerings are Japanese, so you can look forward to thick udon noodles in broth with delicious titbits, crispy tempura and perfectly made sushi. Don't forget to order some calming and fragrant tea. It's pretty simply furnished and calm inside, and there is a smallish crowd over lunch.