I got off to a bad start with Hatsune, probably because we went there immediately after the Wallabies lost to Ireland in the Rugby World Cup. I watched the match at an Irish pub and had a little leprechaun in my ear the whole match rubbing it in.
It may also have had to do with the fact that you can never get into the restaurant without a booking, or the fact that it doesn’t have its own toilet. To me, when you’re paying good money, a restaurant should either have a toilet on the premises or its own private toilets nearby. Anyway, that’s probably just me though. It also didn’t help that our waitress wasn’t overly courteous.
Fortunately our experience with the food was more pleasing. The Moto-roll-ah California rolls with avocado, snow crab, roe and deep fried AND sashimi tuna, generously portioned and well presented, were on a par with any sushi I’ve had. We mopped up the remaining roe and mayonnaise on the plate with the last roll.
The sashimi included salmon, kingfish, red tuna, sea bream (I think) and another fish which the waitress told us was white tuna. We were rather interested after the meal to look this white tuna up on the internet, and were quite disturbed to find out that it has been banned in Japan because it can cause all sorts of nasty surprises, including nausea, diarrhea and leakage from the derrière. Luckily we didn’t experience any of these symptoms. Anyway, it was nice to eat sashimi again after a few months. Back home we generally eat sashimi at least once a fortnight, but not since Japan had we eaten it.
The pork shabu shabu – with lotus root, radish, fried garlic and fresh greens – on reflection one month after, was a nice dish but not overly memorable. I do remember the nutty sauce poured over the salad at the table and the different textures and tastes as we ate it.
Atmosphere-wise, Hatsune was an enjoyable night out and the fish hanging from the roof (not real) looked cool, and the comfyness of the chairs was a plus. With the moody lighting you could almost forget you are at the top of one of Beijing’s busy shopping centres.
I’d heard so much about Hatsune from others who’d eaten there, and I’d recommend eating there for Californian-style Japanese. It wasn’t overly cheap although we did feel that the food was clean and well-presented, which is so important when eating raw fish, particularly in Beijing.
Although a very different experience, for value, taste and authenticity, I’d just as soon suggest Sake Manzo for Japanese in Beijing. If you’re lucky you might see our friends and fellow food lovers Ningyi and Amanda dining there who can run you through the intricacies of the menu!