Restaurant review: Aburi Hana

Yorkville gets a luxury dining experience with two Kaiseki menus at different price points from a chef with Michelin-star expertise.

What's the vibe

Yorkville might be more synonymous with the fancy Italian and French restaurants that line its pretty alleyways, but one of its newest residents promises to blow away the cobwebs with a truly unique dining experience. Aburi Hana, a new Japanese restaurant from the people behind Miku Toronto and TORA, recently opened its doors just off Yorkville Avenue, offering a 15-course marathon meal packed with lights-out local and global ingredients.

Executive chef Ryusuke Nakagawa, who brings Michelin-star experience from his stint at Kikunoi in Kyoto, has created two Kaiseki menus (traditional multi-course Japanese dinners). The Aburi Kyō-Kaiseki ($195) is the cheaper of the two, while the Hana Kyō-Kaiseki ($330) rewards diners with some elevated ingredients that riff on the same theme.

There’s plenty to feast on before you’ve even made it to your seat. The Aburi Restaurants team worked closely with design agency Ste. Marie Design to create a luxury experience. From traditional ikebana floral arrangements and artwork in the corridors to wood and stone interiors designed to evoke the Emperor’s palace, it more than earns its name Hana, meaning flower, beauty and elegance.

Each sitting takes around 2.5 hours, so clear your schedule and choose from one of the two seatings at 5.30 p.m. and 8.45 p.m.

What to drink

Cocktails haven’t made it to the menu, but we’re confident you won’t miss them. Alexander Powell, beverage director at Aburi Hana, has created wine and sake pairings that bring further harmony to the omotenashi meal. For $125 or $180 (with the Aburi or Hana menu) guests can enjoy a curated list of drinks, from sparkling sake to exclusive wines purchased at auction, poured out of a mesmerizing spiral decanter. Alternatively guests can order wine by the bottle from Aburi Hana’s cellar or non-alcoholic beverages a la carte.

What to eat

Before you lick it clean, pay some attention to the plateware on display. All of the Arita porcelain at Aburi Hana was made exclusively for the restaurant and imported from Japan. From stunning plates for sushi to beautifully boxed aburi bites, it’s fitting that the visually striking cuisine has an equally attractive home.

The Kakurega (Japanese for “hidden gem”) private dining rooms give 2-8 people an intimate dining experience – but the real fun happens around the 16-seat chef’s counter, where guests salivate as staff plate nigiri, wagyu tenderloin and bluefin tuna belly right in front of you.

Chef Nakagawa artfully blends local and international ingredients to deliver a seasonal extravaganza to Hana’s beautiful plateware. Dishes like Nova Scotia lobster tempura with miso and fermented mushroom powder, and Quebec foie gras chawanmushi sit beside Japanese barracuda and wasanbon ice cream made with fine-grained sugar.

Sushi is flame-seared in the traditional aburi style, but elsewhere theatrics are on display – a dry-ice fog worthy of a Victorian melodrama billows out from under a leaf holding salmon caviar while maple smoke is pumped into a box containing the Amadai course.

Dinner and beverage pairings starting at $500 per person.

102 Yorkville Ave, Unit 4 Lower Level, (647) 343-8887;