HAMARU: MODERN JAPANESE
Serious meets crazy in this hip Japanese pub
There is no lack of good food and great ambiance in Hamaru Yakitori and Sushi, located at The Food Hive in Quezon City. “Masarap
yung food dito sa Q.C., but we think puro iconic na yung mga dining places like in Tomas Morato and Timog. Kulang ang combination of ambience and food,” says Therese Larroza, who co-owns Hamaru with Tadeo Chua. And what better way to combine both than to open a Japanese restaurant? Or, to be more precise, an izakaya, a kind of Japanese pub that offers a variety of dishes in small portions paired with a selection of alcoholic drinks.
When interior designer Paolo Juan Sayo was researching about the izakaya culture of Japan, he discovered that no two izakaya restaurants are the same. So after studying the traditional design, culture, arts, and lifestyle, he came up with his own take on izakaya. “Using today’s trend, I designed Hamaru by upcycling objects to create a hip and modern pub. It’s a crossover between traditional Japanese architecture with its modern counterparts,” Paolo explains.
The very obvious Japanese element in the restaurant is the mural of a samurai made by artist Renee Arabia. That, and the precision with which some of the handmade details were executed. “But at the same time, may makikita ka rin na pagka-crazy rin
ng Japanese. Yung sa taas, medyo chaotic
na yung itsura,” says Therese, referring to the twistable pipes that hold the light bulbs hanging from the ceiling.
“The layer-on-layer design keeps the restaurant interesting. The clutter may look busy, but it is well calculated with equal measurements to keep its visual balance,” adds Paolo.
This unified look extends beyond the interiors. The sushi boards, for instance, are traditional wooden planks modernized to include slots for the chopsticks and dipping sauce. This makes it easy for guests to hold their plates while standing and mingling, which is the concept for a modern izakaya. A bar area on the second floor allows guests who are dining alone to eat or drink while watching a lounge act downstairs.
Tadeo says, “Part of the culture of izakaya yung hindi awkward pumunta alone. Laging may place na for one lang.”
When Hamaru opens at lunchtime, the vibe is more family-friendly, says Tadeo. In the afternoon, it transforms into a cozier dining space as sunlight casts through the geometric decals on the glass wall. Hamaru changes into a late-night haunt by way of adjustable or dimmable lights, which control the ambiance. Paolo describes, “The red neon light is set to open when the night gets deeper, and it changes the mood of the restaurant into a hip izakaya. By toning down the lights, playing with shadows, we create scenarios that capture attention and detail to make for a beautiful dining experience.”
(OPPOSITE PAGE) The bar area showcases concrete, wood, and metal elements, but the distressed counter with decals and bar paraphernalia on display give it a distinct feel. (CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP) Hamaru is meant to be a space for socializing, dining, and relaxing, and the desired experience is achieved through visual balance and well-orchestrated lighting. On the second floor, there are couch seats lined up against the wall for those who plan on staying a while. Taking advantage of the high ceiling, these industrial pipes mirror the track lights at the bar, and can be adjusted accordingly.