Saturday, June 2, 2007

Hana - Central Phoenix

After some sheet shopping last night in PV, I felt like sushi. Since Tara didn't object, I decided to head down to Hana, a newly opened spot that has gotten good marks on Chowhound. I didn't remember the exact address, so after a not finding it on 7th Street, we found it was on 7th Ave at Missouri. We got there a bit after 9pm, and luckily they were open til 10.

They occupy the north end of a small strip mall. It's a smallish sized place. There are tables along the left wall and sushi bar along the right. We took a couple seats at the bar. It's loud. Cement block walls, cement floor, and nothing to deaden the sound reflecting. There were only a few people there and it was still hard to hear the sushi chef even though he was right in front of us.

After we sat, a waitress came by and took our drink orders. We both got Cokes and water. She gave us a sushi menu and I also asked for a regular dinner menu as well. The sushi menu is short on fancy rolls, but has the standards for nigiri. The specials board listed blue fin toro for $10, which sounded good as I hadn't had it in a while. I also ordered yellowtail, unagi, and albacore sushi. Tara isn't big on the raw stuff, so we got a shrimp tempura roll and the Hana roll, which is a California-ish roll, but with shrimp tempura and a sweet vegetable inside as well, topped with crunchy flakes and eel sauce. Tara also got some edamame and I got a bowl of miso soup.

I handed the chef our sushi list and he said that since the shrimp tempura and Hana rolls are nearly identical, he'd make the Hana first and if we still wanted the tempura roll after it, he'd make it then. He then handed us the plates with ginger and wasabi. He then gave us a couple small dishes of real pickled wasabi, which was a surprise. It was listed on the specials board for $2.25, but we got it gratis. I'd never had it and liked it. The taste was similar to powdered, but the burn seemed to be much shorter lasting. As he got to work on our sushi, our edamame and miso arrived. Tara enjoyed the edamame, but I wished it had a bit more salt. The miso was good. It had big chunks of tofu and lots of seaweed. I prefer the miso at Yasu's, but still enjoyed it.

The sushi started arriving. The first was the blue fin. I was surprised at finding four pieces on the plate. The chef apologized, saying that the pieces of blue fin he had were small. It was actually great for me, since I preferred the smaller pieces. It was really good. The fish just melted on the tongue. It was fresh and tasty.

The yellowtail came next, again with four pieces for the same reason. They were equally good. It's been a while since I had really fresh nigiri and I was enjoying it. The albacore came with two huge pieces, which I assume is the normal portion size. I loved it. The vinegary sauce was just right. Perfect.

The Hana roll arrived on a long, skinny plate. The end pieces each sported a shrimp tail and three other pieces were sandwiched between them, with the eel sauce drizzled over it. We both really liked it. I was expecting something a big bigger for $11, but it was still good.

About halfway through, the chef handed me a square plate with four tortilla chips topped with lumps of something. It turned out it was a ceviche with albacore. We loved them. You could taste a bit of chili sauce in them for a bit of heat. I would order in a heartbeat. For a freebie, it was amazing.

Last came the unagi. The slices of eel were nearly as huge as the albacore. They came burning hot, so I let them cool for a few minutes. They were excellent as well. Maybe a bit too much char for my tastes, but still thoroughly enjoyable. We were both full, so I told the chef he could cancel the shrimp tempura roll.

When we were done, we got another surprise. The chef handed us a bowl with two tempura balls filled with a cold cream, like a tempura cream puff, covered with chocolate sauce. Tara loved them. If she hadn't been full, I'm pretty sure she would have ordered some more.

We requested the bill and chatted with the chef, a couple next to us, and various waiters. After a few minutes, I began wonder where the check was. The chef snagged another waitress and told her we were ready for our bill. After some discussion at the front desk, she looked over and tried to figure out what we drank. It turns out she couldn't find our original bill and they were trying to remember what we had. Eventually they figured it out. We also heard the chef tell her we only had the shrimp tempura roll, not the Hana roll. The Hana roll was twice as much. The bill wasn't itemized, but we're pretty sure we got a good deal. Our sushi came to $33, and that was well under my estimation. The total came to $48, which I felt was a bargain, especially considering the ceviche chips and tempura balls. I definitely plan to go back.

No comments: