Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hannah's Bella Bistro

Hannah's Bella Bistro (Closed)
4 King St. North
Waterloo, Ontario N2J 1W7

We went to the old Hannah's long time ago. All I remember is that the scallops were done properly – a thin caramelized crust outside and juicy tender inside. But for some reason the experience wasn't good enough to keep us going back. With their new location and new menu, we decide to give it a try.

For appetizers, J had Brazilian beer shrimp and I ordered Calamari caliente. The tiger shrimp was swimming in clear beer broth. The flavor of the shrimp and the broth was subtle yet tasty. Alas! The watercress was overpowering. It would have been nice if there was only one small sprig of watercress. (But it wouldn't look good on the plate, would it?) The calamari was coated w/ cornmeal, dusted w/ chipotle grounds and served with caper aioli (garlic mayo). The cornmeal provided nice crunchy texture and the chipotle is distinct but not the "punch-in-the-face" type of spiciness. My only complaint is that the calamari "stripped off" too much; the cornmeal coating and the meat tended to separate especially when dipped in caper aioli. Also, it would have been nicer if they could absorb more oil when the calamari came out of the fryer. Excess oil makes deep-fried food tastes stale and deep-fried items need not to be greasy. Overall, the flavoring was well-balanced.

The portions of the main dishes we ordered were generous. I had Madagascar lamb curry, pulled lamb with vegetables and banana basmati. J had Ahi tuna with black sesame crust, raspberry ginger sauce and banana basmati. We were both impressed by the aroma of the banana basmati. Man! We thought we were having desserts; the fruity and almost floral scent was so intense it was like eating candies (but without the sugary sweetness). The lamb curry was so rich and hearty, it was my favorite of the night. I can almost see myself revisiting Hannah's and having the lamb curry w/ banana basmati w/ a big, satisfied smile on my face. The piece of tuna J had was HUGE, w/ its price tag, it was such a bargain! (Eventually J hit a tough spot so the actual "edible" area wasn't as big as we thought. Still, it was well worth the price) J asked to have his tuna rare to medium rare and the chef got it right! The cross-section of the tuna showed a thin, black circle (the sesame crust), a 5mm-thick beige circle and pink to dark-red center. The salt brought out the sweetness of the meat, it was delicious. Again, there was one thing we didn't like: the sesame crust was really overpowering. After our trip to Japan, I thought there was no such a thing as "too much sesame". But now I know there is. After we used the fork to remove part of the sesame crust, the dish was outstanding. Btw, we were served w/ delicious black sesame bread roasted pepper aioli. Somehow I suspect the "secret ingredient" of the day was sesame.

Overall, the service is relatively friendly, the food is much better than we expected (hopefully it is not just because we "got lucky", able to sample the best items on the menu). If we continue to have good experience in Hannah's, this will become our usual hangout.

Long vacation

It has been a LONG~ time since the blog was last updated.
So…where have I been? Starting back in March, I was planning our trip to Asia. The research on places to visit (and you bet, restaurants to dine for) occupied most of my after work hours. The results? We got to see the stunning cherry blossom, with the beautiful historical buildings in Kyoto as its backdrop. (Not to mention all the good food we sampled along the way)
I have to admit that it took me much longer than I expected to resume the restaurant review. But here I am with a good appetite and a curious heart. I am ready to go on the culinary journey again.