Hana Don Japanese Cuisine & Bar (Markham)

There’s something in the hospitality air lately - I have been receiving great service at restaurants I normally wouldn’t expect it from. It started as soon as I entered Hana Don, a lady advised a high-top table was available, but if I was willing to wait a few minutes there would be a more comfortable one she’d seat us at further into the restaurant. 

The friendly and helpful attitude continued throughout the evening and not just from one person but three great ladies: people came by to check on us, offered suggestions on how to best eat dishes, and the restaurant even provided plastic bags for customers to store their masks (we didn’t use them, but I finally had to ask what the cellophane bags were for). They even started us off with complimentary bowls of miso soup. Maybe they were just happy things were opened again and they could see people in-person, I hope the friendly attitude continues as it’s infectious and makes the dining experience so enjoyable.


Hana Don sells a huge variety of sushi by the piece, including katsuo a.k.a. bonito or skipjack tuna ($4 per piece), which isn’t a popular item elsewhere. There’s something about the meaty textured fish with the light smoke ring that makes for an interesting bite. At Hana Don it was a little fishier tasting than pieces I’ve had previously, but it also didn’t arrive with a glaze brushed onto the fish - the slightly sweet and salty barrier that balances the bonito flavours. They did try to temper the stronger fish with chopped scallions, it was nonetheless a decent bite to start off the meal.


What you’ll find missing from this post is a review of donburi, the focus of Hana Don’s menu. Sadly, it’s not a dish I enjoy. Don’t worry, these are described and reviewed ad nauseum on Yelp and Google so think of this post as helping you decide what other dishes to add on. The grilled black cod with sakiyo sauce ($16) was delicious – the flesh moist and flaky and the skin perfectly crisped. The thicker pieces helped to create a meaty tender portion and I liked that it was cut in two to make it easier to share. The sake miso sauce was nice and light without that blast of sweetness that can sometimes make it taste like you’re eating black cod with honey. Finishing the dish was a tube of pickled ginger, that I almost mistook as a straw, and was great for cleansing the palette.


If you’re hungry, go for the beef sukiyaki ($45) a huge pot filled with beef, mushrooms (meaty fresh shiitake, prince oyster mushrooms, and enoki), vegetables (bok choy, napa cabbage, and alfalfa sprouts), grilled tofu, and noodles. While the beef looks really marbled, once it’s cooked through it tastes lean and a bit tough so it’s best to eat the slices quickly. You round out the pot by cracking raw eggs into the sukiyaki broth and blending to create a slightly sweet egg drop soup. In retrospect, this was way too much food for two of us, so we left with full bellies and a doggy bag. They tried to warn us, but it’s such a good addition for a cold winter’s night.  


We might have been able to finish everything if we skipped the momo aburi oshizushi ($18) as there were a lot of pieces and each a fair size. Sandwiched between the sticky rice was a creamy tube of avocado and it’s all topped with salmon and a reserved portion of kewpie, which I preferred as when there’s too much mayo the rice becomes oily and heavy. An ingenious addition was the finely chopped cucumber and mango salsa garnish adding a lovely crunch and freshness to something that could be too heavy. 


Overall, our 7:30pm reservation allowed us to stay past two hours to leisurely eat and converse, and Hana Don did a good job at ensuring dishes came out in a good succession – we always had something to eat without having everything arrive at once. I hope this streak of amazing service continues as we all stay in the same good mood of being able to be out and eating/working again.

Overall mark - 8.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 9255 Woodbine Avenue
 Website: http://hanadon.ca/

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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