Melbourne, VIC 3000
I kind of see Hanaichi as Don Don’s deep-fried cousin. Whilst it’s like Don Don in terms of pricing (extremely cheap) and style (simple, fast, but good quality Japanese), it replaces the healthier options of Don Don with an assortment of oil-baptised delights, including tempura, katsu, and good ol’ fried chicken.
Furnished like McDonalds and menu backlit like KFC, I would never, ever have stepped foot into Hanaichi if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been eating their katsu don every since I was 7, all the way up in Queensland. So instead of it being tacky and off-putting, I actually found the familiar picture menus to be a welcome nostalgia trip.
|Chicken Curry with Rice ($6.7)|
Poor curry, so delicious yet so un-photogenic. If you look a bit closer, you can actually tell that this is a Chicken Curry with Rice (regular, $6.7), served with a side of my favourite red pickles. The pieces of crumbed and fried chicken were impressively crunchy, even when doused in the thick curry sauce. If I had to pick bones, I’d say that the sauce is a bit grainier and less robust that I’d like, but that’d just be mean, considering the price we paid.
|Chicken Hanaichi with Rice ($6.9)|
The Chicken Hanaichi with Rice (regular, $6.9) on the other hand is so pretty that it may as well have been air-brushed. Upon a bed of fluffy white rice rests a simple salad doused in an addictive soy and vinegar dressing, topped with crispy chunks of chicken and a scoop of tartar sauce. The highlight is definitely the chicken, which has an entirely different batter to the chicken katsu; it’s light, crispy, and tastes delightfully reminiscent of pork crackling.
Sure, this isn’t gourmet food (though I find it funny that Hanaichi advertises itself as Japanese Fine Food); this isn’t even extremely healthy food. But it’s hard to feel too bad when your biodegradable paper bowl contains an almost-balanced meal served at lightning pace, with change from a tenner to boot.
Rating: 13/20 – deep fried don don