For Matteo Bruno (Meatball and Wine Bar, Mr Macellaio’s Meat Shop), someone else’s wedding, in Hawaii, was a game-changer.
“It was during that trip in mainland Hawaii and the islands that I noticed the relaxed vibe of the place and the amazing seafood dishes,” he says. He decided he wanted to “bring a slice of it to the CBD” – holiday spirit with a tiki, Maui touch.
When he returned to Melbourne, he swiftly found a site for his new restaurant, Hana, on Little Collins Street. It opened earlier this month. He enlisted the friend whose wedding he’d attended – Hawaiian-born chef Mario Manabe – to run the kitchen.
The menu consists almost entirely of raw seafood, and is designed to share. Dishes are Hawaiian-leaning, but also take from other cuisines. Pickled mudcrab is served with tempura apple and ginger. Kingfish crudo comes with jalepeno and lemon ice.
Cooked dishes include a Panko-crumbed pork shank and grilled Marron with carrot and cardamom puree. (For lunch there’s a smaller menu to cater to office workers. It includes four poke bowls, but not of the build-your-own variety.)
The 40-strong wine list is 100 per cent organic and includes orange, biodynamic and other minimal-intervention drops.
“The wine list, more so than the menu, might be the challenging aspect for people, but that’s what I love,” Bruno says, adding that the list has been picked to complement the raw menu.
This upstairs venue used to be home to bar Hairy Canary. Samantha Eades Design did the refurbishment. It features custom-made monstera-leaf wallpaper designed by Aron Tzimas, and finishes of brass, bamboo and greenery. There’s a coral and deep-green colour scheme throughout the space.
The cocktails are just as vibrant. Tropical drinks (think coconut, lime and rum flavours) are served in cups shaped like a pineapple, or a marlin’s head. The signature Hana Colada can be upgraded to a “volcano” – an enormous yellow bowl-cup covered in green palm leaves and filled with cocktail umbrellas – for up to four people.
Hana is a remote town on Maui’s rugged east coast. The road there is world-famous not only for its beauty but for its dangerous, winding roads through dense jungle.
“It was the road to Hana that inspired me to do this,” Bruno says. “You find if off the beaten track, and it’s a bit of an adventure to get there.”
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