Luxury Japanese restaurant concept Hana has officially opened on Yorkville Avenue in Toronto, adding another destination for the rapidly changing area which is becoming home to a roster of the world’s leading luxury retail brands.
The 3,400-square-foot Hana is located in a beautiful high-quality space on the lower level of the 102-108 Yorkville Avenue commercial complex, which houses three luxury retail brands that have opened in recent months including Brunello Cucinelli, Versace, and Stone Island. In the fall, spa concept Majesty’s Pleasure opened on the third level of the building, and Hana is the final tenant to open there.
Hana will serve an affluent demographic that is descending on the area — shoppers are being attracted by big name brands on the street including Chanel which opened in late 2017 as well as Christian Louboutin, Off-White, Richard Mille, and others. Hana’s pricing skews towards the upper-end with high-quality dishes aiming to attract celebrities, sports celebrities, and those willing to spend hundreds of dollars on an elevated meal experience.
The Hana restaurant is Aburi Restaurants Canada’s newest (and most upscale) venture, introducing a modern Kyoto-style Kaiseki dining experience to the Toronto food landscape. The concept aims to showcase the beauty and seasonality of both Japanese and local ingredients while incorporating ancient techniques and modern gastronomy, according to Seigo Nakamura, CEO and founder of Aburi Restaurants Canada.
Guests at Hana have the choice between two fifteen-course menus. That includes the Hana Kyo-Kaiseki which is priced at $330, and the Aburi Kyo-Kaiseki at $195. The 15-course menus were artfully developed by Executive Head Chef Ryusuke Nakagawa and are said to celebrate both local and global ingredients. Both menus are available to be enjoyed at Hana’s Chef’s Counter or in one of five Kakurega private dining rooms.
Each experience lasts between two and 2.5 hours. The Chef’s Counter offers two nightly seatings and according to Mr. Nakamura, it delivers an immersive, engaging experience, as guests are seated within optimal view and distance of the kitchen. Alternatively, those who prefer a more intimate setting may also book their experience in a Kakurega private dining room. Each room accommodates between two and eight guests for reservations between 5:30-8:30 pm.
In addition to its high-quality and delicious culinary program, Hana practices Omotenashi — an anticipatory-style of hospitality that delivers an unforgettable experience. Retail Insider had the opportunity to experience Hana at a media preview as well as opening night, and the service and food were exceptional.
The space itself is dramatic and impressive, featuring high-quality stone, marble, and metal as well as beautiful wallpapers and other decor. The Aburi Restaurants team worked with Vancouver-based design agency Ste. Marie Design to create Hana’s interior. Throughout the space, traditional ikebana (Japanese floral arrangements) are displayed as pieces of art that poetically allude to the literal translation of Hana, meaning flower, beauty and elegance. They are flown in from Japan every few days.
Mr. Nakamura said that he decided to locate Hana in the heart of Yorkville’s luxury retail area as the target consumers are similar. He explained that Hana’s market “has a taste for elevated, refined craftsmanship, and would be able to appreciate Chef Nakagawa’s approach to food as an art form.”
Yorkville Avenue was also chosen because the neighbourhood is seeing a remarkable transformation. Much of the transformation is being led by landlord First Capital Realty, which has invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the past several years to buy up buildings in Yorkville. That includes renovating and rebranding the Hazelton Lanes shopping centre as ‘Yorkville Village’, with the name also being used for First Capital Realty’s other commercial buildings that line the rapidly changing Yorkville Avenue. The landlord owns 102-108 Yorkville Avenue as well as the adjacent building housing Chanel as well as other retail buildings in the immediate area. Last year, Diesel and Anthropologie closed stores on Yorkville Avenue and luxury brands are expected to replace them. First Capital Realty will also be announcing updated plans for a new luxury mixed-use building at 101 Yorkville Avenue, and the landlord also owns the commercial podium at 1 Bloor Street East, among other properties in the vicinity.
Eric Sherman, Director of Real Estate for First Capital Realty’s Yorkville properties, negotiated the lease deal on behalf of the landlord. “We are very excited for the much anticipated launch of Hana at 102-108 Yorkville. The Aburi Group has a proven track record of being one of the top restaurant operators in the country by creating best in class concepts that are tailored to the neighbourhood within which they operate.” Mr. Sherman went on to say, “These are the types of operators we strive to work with as we continue the curation of our portfolio in Yorkville and within our growing urban portfolio generally.
“Hana also exemplifies our commitment to finding unique and mutually, economically viable ways to integrate food and beverage and personal service into our luxury developments – in this case being located in the lower level of 102-108 Yorkville. Sophisticated brands and consumers alike recognize that a true luxury experience incorporates hospitality, service, and discovery. Understanding and executing on this trend is how Yorkville Ave has and will continue to differentiate itself from the conventional high street and why we are seeing more brands and concepts gravitate towards our carefully thought out projects.”
Aburi Restaurants Canada is known for its expertise in Aburi Sushi, introducing it to Canada in 2008. Aburi translates to “flame-seared” and references the technique that uses a flame and Japanese charcoal over the seafood to create new textures and enhance the sushi’s natural flavour. The company operates three restaurants in Vancouver — Miku Vancouver, Minami and Gyoza Bar. Hana is the group’s third Toronto location and joins Miku Toronto as well as TORA at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre, which we profiled in Retail Insider last year. Aburi will test out the premium Hana concept before rolling it out into other markets, and the company also plans to open more concept restaurants within Canada as well as in the United States, with details to follow.