A few people had mentioned Hato, the high end Asian Fusion spot of Zurich, and just last week a good friend had eaten at the chef’s table, so there was only one place to head to for my girl’s night out. We wanted to see for ourselves if it lives up to the hype!
As far as I can discern, Hato means ‘clique’ or ’herd’ in English, so I’m guessing they wanted the Zurich crowd to flock to its Selnau location and sample the Asian Fusion menu.
For a Tuesday night, the restaurant was pretty busy and early on, even a few take-aways were produced. We were three, all bolstered by Saketinis and Toyko Mules (the latter absolutely delicious by the way) but also very, very hungry.
I had briefed the ladies that their opinions mattered and our reviewing criteria were to assess food obviously, the service and the ambiance.
The food was really very good.
We ate Edamame, Crispy Aromatic Duck Salad, Vegetable Dim Sum with dips, Tiger Prawn Tempura, Korean BBQ Lamb with Kimchi and Morning Glory Chilli Garlic. We drank a nice Chablis with dinner.
One of the ladies swore the edamame were steamed in tea, maybe lapsang souchong, and possibly she was right, there was definitely woodiness not found in the average serving.
The crispy duck salad was the highlight for us all. Hato interpreted the flavours of the classic crispy duck pancake and morphed them into a light and fresh salad. Pomegranate seeds and mint leaves making the difference. I could have eaten 2 bowls.
The dim sum was amazing. The dough was translucent unveiling brunoise cut little vegetables and included I think enoki mushrooms, which added umami. Of the three dips, the sweet chilli was superb. These dim sum were light as a feather. My friend who clocked the tea-smoked edamame exclaimed ‘ oohhh I’m getting excited now’, while my other dining partner pronounced them as ‘charming’.
The tempura arrived and stood proud on the plate, lightly fried and came with a mellow mayonnaise. It was tasty but not memorable.
The lamb was good, not my favorite, but the other ladies loved it particularly the kimchi. Both had dined extensively in Asia and said the kimchi was perfect. The lamb could definitely have been pinker for me.
The morning glory was a good side but nothing to shout home about.
On a negative note, the food is quite salty. I definitely felt that the next day and perhaps we could have been advised on quantity given the sharing plate element. A concept I love but for example there were 4 dim sum for 3 of us so we fought over the 4th!!
*** Rating: 4/5
The service was excellent. Our waitress explained the concept of sharing, confirmed what was not on the menu that night, spoke German and English and was really very attentive without being overbearing.
*** Rating: 4.5/5
The ambiance was a big negative. All three of us wouldn’t return despite the great food and service simply because of the décor and atmosphere. We felt there was more “warmth” in the cosy, softly lit, great smelling bathroom.
Everything is black except for the red sash on the waitress’ dress. The restaurant is divided into sections by black sheer curtains and the windows in heavy black velvet, meant to give intimacy and privacy but in fact feels a little seedy. The kind waitress took pity on us and allowed the curtains to be pulled back to let in the glorious evening sunshine but this it seemed was really exceptional.
I understand Hato is probably positioned for the business audience given its location but when paying relatively high menu prices you expect a little luxury in the form of nice fabrics and fresh flowers. I think those have been saved for the private dining space. The plants on the chef’s table (which we had mistaken for a non-existent bar probably because we expected a chef’s table to be in the kitchen) were dying and the large plant beside us was plastic.
*** Rating: 2/5
If you like that sort of dark, clean and cold look, definitely go and check out Hato. The food and service are great but it sure does not compare to Hakkasan in London!
A quick Asian Fusion dressing to try at home!
- 2 tsp white miso
- 1 tsp agave syrup
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Whisk together and dress salads, fritters or sushi.
Featured image by Hato Zurich
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