Opening Soon: Hānai Moves Into The Old Ugly Dumpling Space on Commercial Drive

New restaurant concept, Hānai, is moving into the old Ugly Dumpling location at 1590 Commercial Drive. As the Hānai crew rally together to transform the space, we take a behind-the-scenes look inside…

Hānai is the Hawaiian term for a unique sort of nourishment that comes from the connection you have with a friend that is so close that you think of them as part of your family. If there is a silver lining to a global pandemic that has taken so much away, maybe it is that we have collectively paused to appreciate the value of human connection and spending time with friends and family. To open a restaurant that honours the sense of nourishment and belonging implicit those connections feels right for the times — something we all need more of.

Brought to us by Miki Ellis and Stephen Whiteside (Dachi, Elephant) together with chef Tess Bevernage and partner Thomas Robillard, Hānai will be a brick-and-mortar home for the Hawaiian-style comfort food that Vancouverites have enthusiastically flocked to, from Tess and Thomas’ popular ‘Hānai Family Table’ (a pop-up since 2018) – and it couldn’t have landed at a more appropriate time.

While menu details are still being hammered out, I’ve been told that the food “…will tell a story about what it’s like growing up in Hawai’i, featuring dishes that bring comfort, and highlight the island’s many cultural influences”. In short, diners can expect flavours and recipes that have their roots in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and Filipino cuisines, as well as odes to traditional Hawaiian dishes like Kālua Pork and Chicken Lau Lau – all made with ingredients found in BC.

I recently took a tour of the space to see how the transformation from Ugly to Hanai was coming and found the whole team, along with their GM Robin Corrbett (previously Ugly Dumpling, Wildebeest), with their sleeves-rolled-up, covered in sawdust and paint, at various workstations around the roughly 1500 square foot, 36-seat restaurant. Though colours were coming into focus (soft green, shades of pink, white and sand) and details (from mirrors and lighting to millwork and seating) were starting find their homes, the merging of these elements was still a process in flux, making it hard to imagine the finished product.

Thankfully, we don’t have long to speculate. The largely cosmetic improvements are moving quickly thanks to the all-hands-on-deck mentality and a March opening seems within the realm of possibility.

Keep an eye on Hānai’s IG feed here for specific dates. While you’re waiting for the doors to open, take a look inside…

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There is 1 comment

  1. I hope you guys would do a Hawaiian Luau when Commercial Drive do their Italian Day

    Sad to see Ugly Dumpling go but happy Hānai is taking over such a lovely spot