SINGAPORE, Oct 10 — The biggest food fad of the moment is the #flyingudon from Hana Restaurant at Forum The Shopping Mall. Trending heavily on Instagram and food blogs over the past week of so, this dish of udon with an accompanying saucer of salted egg yolk sauce with laksa leaves appears as if it is suspended in mid-air.
The flying sensation also appears in two other forms — truffle somen and cha soba with spam soba noodles.
“We brainstormed and created these dishes as part of a new menu when we closed to revamp the restaurant in September,” said Pearlyn Tan, creative manager of Hana Restaurant and sister café The Benjamins (known for its over-the-top dessert milkshakes).
“We went for a contemporary look for the restaurant — we wanted it to look more modern and cafe-like, yet still having Japanese touches.
To go along with that, we thought about how to plate and present our dishes for a ‘wow effect. She candidly revealed that it was a conscious decision to make the dishes as photogenic and “Instagram-friendly” as possible, and the team spent two weeks to nail down the final look.
Tan explained that this was an effort to shake up the two-year-old Japanese restaurant, which was previously better known for its affordable omakase meals.
“We can’t deny the trend of people judging the food with their eyes first, and the cameras will come out. And it’s not just young people — even my mother would whip up her phone to snap photos of her food before eating.”
Besides the flying udon, Hana Restaurant presents its sushi in clear acrylic drawers as a showpiece, appetisers in a similar acrylic grid box and the dessert of matcha-misu in a bell jar.
But make no mistake, while the presentation is eye-popping, Tan maintains that the food is not gimmicky. “We’re still a Japanese restaurant at heart — we use ingredients imported from Japan and our chefs are trained in Japanese cuisine. We’re simply experimenting some fusion elements such as truffle and salted egg yolk sauce.”
Response to the new dishes, in particular, the flying truffle somen and flying salted egg yolk udon has been overwhelming.
Tan revealed that they sell about 50 to 70 trays of each daily. Reservations over the weekend has increased, and we’re full for lunch and dinner.
“I’d say business has increase by at least 50 per cent. We also get a lot of young people and office crowd coming compared to before when most of our customers are families,” added Tan.
Tan is currently working on a dessert menu for Hana Restaurant and a new menu for The Benjamins, which will be launched together in a couple of months.
And even in this era of Snapchats and Instagram likes, Tan is aware that “it’s not enough (for a dish) to trend. That is just for a while. The food still has to taste good and feature quality ingredients.” — TODAY