Mandalay has a lot of restaurants, street food and traditional foods and though most of these are delicious, I chose Hana Yakiniku for a recent Mandalay meal.
Yakiniku means ‘grilled meat’ and customers at this restaurant grill their own meals choosing from a menu offering pork and seafood as well as sushi and other cooked dishes to complete the meal. The restaurant’s special focus is on yakiniku beef with a range of Japanese Kobe and Australian beef.
This shop is managed by a Burmese man called Myint Thura Hlaing and he aims to build a Japanese yakiniku culture in Mandalay where it’s rare to find any other Japanese yakiniku restaurants.
“Most restaurateurs try to follow popular food trends but I didn’t want to do that. Instead, I surveyed the restaurant scene in Mandalay and noticed that Japanese food culture was totally absent,” he said.
“That’s when I got the idea to provide a yakiniku experience.”
The restaurant has two floors and we chose to sit upstairs because most of the tables downstairs were already full of customers. They have wide-ranging menu and my friend and I began the meal by ordering wakame salad, Kobe potato croquettes as appetizers as well as miso soup.
Ko Myint Thura Hlaing recommended tasting the New Zealand beef ribeye cut, beef tongue and pork belly dishes. We also ordered more salmon sashimi with ikura (salmon eggs) and shio tori sasami (chicken breast) as well.
Kobe potato croquettes are crispy fried and made with Kobe meat and onions and served with sauce. The dish is a little sweet and a great croquette.
The wakame (seaweed salad) is also great and they use dried wakame mixed with cucumbers with some carrot on top. The taste is a little sour and the dish smells of fresh wakame.
The New Zealand beef ribeye cut is marinated with shoyu (their in-house soy sauce-based sauce) and is best grilled in thin slices for just three to five seconds.
The beef is aromatic and melts in the mouth, even if you over grill it. Beef tongue is different from the ribeye cut because it shouldn’t be grilled for too long or it may become a little hard. The meat is marinated with salt and pepper, sesame oil and leeks and the result is super and worth trying.
The pork belly is marinated with miso sauce (a Japanese bean sauce) and the taste was amazing – especially as pork is one of my favorite meats. It takes a little longer to grill.
When the salmon sashimi with ikura came, the orange color of salmon was proof of its freshness. I tried the first piece without dipping it in sauce to taste the freshness of the meat.
The restaurant also has a wide-ranging drinks menu including beer.
The prices range from K1,500 to K15,000 for normal dishes and imported beef dishes range from K30,000 to K65,000. I found these prices to be reasonable compared to other countries especially considering the outstanding quality.
Most of their customers are local families or foreigners. Sometimes, if customers ask for dishes which are not included in the menu, the shop can cook and serve it. The experience of grilling my own meat was fun. The staff is friendly although some dishes took a little long to come so I recommend ordering everything at once.
In the future, the owner wants to open more shops in the other cities and to introduce the real taste of Japanese yakiniku to the local people.
The shop is located on the 27th Street, between 68th Street and 69th Street in Mandalay.