- Melanie Wong Jul 28, 2006 04:47 AM
I was at Sumiya last night when I ran into the guy from Shabuway. He was with a bunch of other Japanese guys and he introduced two of them as the chefs at Hime. He called Hime one of his projects and said that the two guys were from Japan with kaiseki training. These guys looked pretty young (late 20s?).
With that tidbit of knowledge, I might be more willing to head into the city to check them out.
Anyone been yet?
Talked to the Shabuway guy several times about his new restaurant when he was patrolling the MV Shabuway (haven't seen him recently). He said this restaurant was for him and that he wanted a place with a nice atmosphere and a place for drinks. He promised a great sake list and cocktail list.
He said he was importing chefs from Japan so these must be the guys.
OK, last night's dinner: first, the company was so great that you could have put dog food in front of me and I would have found something to like about it. So take everything with a grain of salt.
The space: you can definitely tell the building once housed some generic chain restaurant but they have done a great job of trying to hide that fact. Everything has a very nice, Japanese aesthetic to it. There is a bar but it is well hidden from the entrance and almost entirely separate (go all the way to the back). Big, comfortable wood tables. There weren't too many diners so I can't give a proper gage on sound levels. Fairly quiet.
Went to the bar first to wait for Chow_Fun to join me. Extremely friendly bartender. Very short cocktail list and I couldn't tell if they had a fully stocked bar as I only saw about ten bottles. I had (as mentioned above) a green tea cocktail with vodka. Quite nice. CF can tell you about his drink.
On to dinner: we couldn't take a menu as they are on expensive card stock but they said they would email a pdf so once I get the menu, I will edit this posting with proper names and prices. I have been on a 5-day Japanese eating jag with no end in sight. I've ingested so much mercury, I could be a thermometer. But this has been the best in the last 5 days. First up was hamachi sashimi with jalapeno and a soy-garlic sauce-11.20 from Melanie's photo? One of my favorites of the night. Just the right amount of jalapeno and very lightly sauced. Probably my strongest recommendation.
Kobe beef lettuce cups, 9.50? The least Japanese-like dish but seriously good nonetheless. Loved the warm, savory mixture wrapped in sturdy, ice-cold iceberg lettuce. So much, we couldn't finish. Well, maybe we over-ordered in our excitement.
Japanese garden, $12. When I arrived, I asked the hostess about kaiseki and she said this dish was the best example. Eight different vegetable preparations, all cold. A slight side note: the server was sweet as could be but they need to do more food training with the staff. She couldn't identify the various vegetables other than yam. Everything else was "some form of turnip." I can't really do this dish justice. the textures of the vegetables were sublime. Even the yam tasted somehow different, better with a unique texture I have never come across. The portion is large and best split. Otherwise, that and an order of nigiri would be your whole dinner. It is a very clean, simple dish (but I was told by the bartender that the actual execution is quite difficult); you'll feel incredibly healthy afterwards. There was some skinny, ropey black thing that may have been seaweed but didn't taste like it. Anyone?
Sashimi moriawase, 19.50? Quite a lot, various fish, scallop, amaebi, etc. along with tempura prawn heads. Served in a lit bowl filled with ice, making the fish very cold. Very fresh but I want to say the maguro I had in Monterey over the weekend was better. If I had ordered this myself, I wouldn't have been able to eat anything else. When I saw the sushi list, my heart dropped when I saw the Philadelphia roll (that is just so wrong!) but I am happy to report that at least the sashimi was great. Next time will have to try the nigiri for the rice factor.
Baked Black Cod with saikyomiso(?), 18.50. One of only 3 entree-sized dishes (although I think the "small" dishes are quite large). I think I may have liked this more than Chow_Fun ( he was hoping for Sable). The fish was cooked to absolute perfection! Silky, delicate yet somehow bold in flavor at the same time. I liked it even better than the black cod I had at Ame. I need to say that the presentation on ALL the dishes was lovely. Great dinnerware.
CF was excited that they had green tea OVER ice cream. He had visions of the powder liberally dusted over vanilla. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite that. The tableside prep is charming: she comes to the table whisking the powder and water together with one of those, those...heck! I don't know what to call it. Made of bamboo and looks like a shaving brush, used in traditional tea ceremonies. Then poured over the ice cream. CF was absolutely right: pouring directly over the ice cream caused ice crystals. Also didn't have a very strong green tea taste.
$84.00 before tip with enough leftovers for at least a lunch. Soooo worth it. NB: I am no expert on Japanese food and I haven't been to Kiss or some of the other places that people might ask for comparisons. But I loved the vibe, the Japanese hostess was adorable (all the staff was great). On the way out we passed by the army of chefs in the kitchen. Most were quite young but there was one or two older men. If I didn't have an appt in a different hood after work, I would so be there again tonight.
The butterfish sushi I had in Seattle had a mackeral (saba) like texture. The head chef owner told me it was ebodai in Japanese, and looked like a smaller pompano. Mitsuwa supermarket has ebodai in their packaged fish counter.
When I think of sablefish, I think of those huge mongous monsters that the Iron Chefs used in the original TV series, unless of course the translations were all wrong , Foo Kooey San :-)
Hime was a surprise..It was in the former 'Bakers Square' building located in the front of a motel...but the interior was designed in a modern and tasteful Japanese esthetic..the lighting, the materials all were well thought out........this thoughtfulness carried over to the presentation of the food naturally...spare and minimalist on interesting serving dishes.
I met up with Lisa in the moody back bar..this was a good beginning..with a great Chowhound companion and a pleasantly decorative and friendly barkeep...I ordered the other green tea concoction..(don't remember what it was called or what was in it,) but it reminded me of melted green tea ice cream with a kick! It wasn't overly sweet, but I preferred Lisa's drink and would order that one next time...
My favorites were the first 2 dishes..the sashimi with jalapeno. (yes , I actually enjoyed it..it was sliced very thinly and didn't overpower the taste of the sashimi!)
The kobe beef lettuce cups felt more Chinese in execution, but was very flavorful with great textures.
Unfortunately, the black cod/sable did not have the silkin mouth feel which I expect from this fish...the flavor however was delicate and good.
The vegetables were all about subtle textures and flavors...very gentle.
The sashimi moriawase, were fresh almost too cold from the ice in the illuminated bowl (awesome presentation)...but a huge and tasty compilation of fish.
As Lisa said the green tea ice cream was a disappointment ( I have had powdered green tea on good vanilla ice cream and it is a wonderful intense smokey confection)
The presentation with the Japanese bamboo brush used in the tea ceremony was a nice touch, however pouring a liquid on top of ice cream always creates ice crystals (I was taught how to avoid this one summer when I was a soda jerk making ice cream sodas)
We spoke to the friendly but not too knowledgeable waitress...and she said she would pass on the suggestions....
I enjoyed the experience and Lisa's company immensely, and would like to hear of others' experiences as well, as I am not educated enough in my Japanese palate to judge well.
Forgot to add:
-they bring warm handtowels at the beginning of the meal. Nice touch.
-the wasabi is oddly weak.
-they have kobe nigiri
-they are closed on Mondays. I don't know if they serve lunch. If I had had half a brain (instead of two green tea cocktails), I would have grabbed a business card as their number does not seem to be listed yet.
Crap! After writing all that, I am now craving suhi. Damn!
2353 Lombard Street
-Hours: from 5:30 pm to 10 pm; 5:30 pm to midnight Fri/Sat
-Parking: 20 spaces on side of bldg.
Cold Dishes from $7~12
spicy tuna on crispy rice $10.50
fresh oyster $10.50
tuna tartar $10.80
Hot Dishes from $7~14
Kobe style Beef Lettuce Cups $9.80
crunchy asparagus $7
Large Dishes $18.50~$20.30
Sushi - $3~$8 to Market Price
Sashimi $7.50~$10.50 to Market Price
samurai roll $8
Kobe roll $13.50
Geisha roll $15
Hime roll $13.50
Yakuza roll $17
After reading your report, I'm craving sushi and more — Thanks to you and ChowFun!