Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hana Sushi revisit

Hana has become one of my top favorites for sushi. We haven't been in a while and tonight I decided I wanted some raw fish. We got there much earlier than usual, around 7:45, and it was packed. One two-top and four seats at the bar were open. We took two seats at the end of the bar.

After debating for a while, we ordered toro, albacore, and unagi sushi for me, a Hana roll for Tara, gyoza, edamame, a Negi Toro Tempura Mint Leaf roll from the special board, poke chips, and an Ebi Yakisoba noodle dish. I stuck with water and Tara had a coke.

First out was the edamame. They were stone cold. When I asked, the waitress said traditionally they are served room temperature. These were far below room temp and she took them and nuked them for us. Every place else we've ever ordered edamame it's been hot or at least warm out of the steamer. I don't know the whole "traditional" thing is true, but Tara has a thing about cold food that was once hot and I didn't want slimy and cold beans either. They are passable heated.

Despite the note on the specials board warning that sushi will take extra time, our Hana roll was ready in about two minutes. I was shocked and even more so to find the two shrimp in this shrimp tempura roll-on-steroids to be piping hot. I had one piece just as they brought out the poke platter so I put it on Tara's tray. It was an outstanding roll. Tara had pleasure of finishing the rest.

The poke is a ceviche-like mix of krab and other stuff served on tortilla chips. Despite Tara's aversion to spicy items, she loves these, as do I. Her first one nearly killed her, but she settled down and finished her half.

My albacore and toro showed up next. The albacore was dressed with a nice sauce, a tiny sliver of chile, and green onions. As usual, it was great. Both pieces were gone in short order. The female sushi chef (I want to say it's the main chef's sister, but I'm not positive) also gave me a small ramekin of real wasabi. I mixed that with some soy sauce and dipped the toro in it. The sharp spiciness of the real wasabi with it's shorter burn was excellent with the toro.

The Negi Toro Tempura Mint Leaf roll was chopped up toro pressed between mint leaves, lightly battered, and fried. Cut into four pieces, it was topped with eel sauce. I loved it. The interesting combination of flavors was great.

Our gyoza with pork filling came out next. Nicely caramelized on the bottom, we made short work of them. I kinda wished they'd fried the top as well, but they were still really good.

The Ebi Yakisoba noodles came out very hot, as had all but the edamame. The sweet flavor of the noodles is something I really enjoy. I kind of wish there weren't vegetables mixed in, but it's ok. We were getting pretty full by this point, so we ended up taking most of them home.

Last to show up was my unagi. Possibly my favorite item at Hana, their unagi is always cooked perfectly. The eel is cooked through, but not charred at all. As is also normal, they were cut differently than the other two times I've ordered them. Still, they were almost like dessert. Tara even tried a small piece and liked it, but resisted my offer to take one of the three pieces for herself.

As usual, we were both given a small tempura cream puff with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Despite being full, we scoffed them down, as they are always a great ending to the meals here.

Despite the packed house, service was prompt and friendly when time permitted. Tara's coke and my water were refilled as needed, dishes cleared, and questions answered with no attitude or brush-offs. Despite our infrequent visits, they do remember us, mostly because half of the waitstaff is from Wisconsin and they and Tara did some Midwestern bonding on previous visits. They are BYOB, as two guys next to us found out. One vanished for quite a while and when I asked his friend what was up, he told me he'd gone on a beer run. When he got back, the waiter took the six-pack, put it in their fridge behind the counter, and served them with no problems at all.

My biggest issue is still the lack of sound-deadening material on the walls. A large group at the first two tables would make a deafening noise when they all broke into laughter, and I couldn't hear anything else. It's one of those things that I can put up with for the excellent food I've always gotten. It's a very casual atmosphere, devoid of the mega-attitude over in Scottsdale. Hopefully they'll be able to keep it up as word-of-mouth spreads. We just need to curtail our ordering, as we always order way too much. It's just all so darn good, though. :)


Anonymous said...

I was very impressed with Hana during my visit a few weeks ago, but I must concur with your observations about the edamame. Hana served mine cold and unsalted. When we asked, the staff heated them and added some salt. Traditional or not, Hana's edamame needs a little adjustment. It's a minor complaint, but still a bit frustrating when everything else there is so close to perfect.

Yankee1969 said...

Yeah, it just struck me as very odd. I guess I prefer non-traditional edamame. :) I thought we'd had them there before, but I know I would have remembered that. I'll just skip them next time and get more fish. :)