Hibino - Henry St @ Pacific
- EJC Jan 21, 2007 08:51 PM
While it doesn't appear that any work is happening inside yet, the old Jam for Bread space has a name on the windows, Hibino. There is also a notice stating that they've applied for a liquor license.
Strange spot, but I'm hoping for the best!
Wow - this sounds very interesting...
Obanzai & Tofu Ryori
Obanzai Ryori is a traditional cuisine that has been passed down through generations of the ordinary Kyoto locals. It is characterized by the inclusion of tofu, namafu (gluten), yuba (curd of soy been), Kyoto vegetables, and many other traditional Kyoto ingredients.
Furthermore, there is also a type of traditional Kyoto special tofu cuisine. Tofu ryori, characterized by yudofu (boiled tofu) and other tofu dishes, is typical in this fashion. Because tofu contains little animal protein the dish is healthy, and the flavor of the ingredients by themselves can be enjoyed in this quintessentially Kyoto dish.
re: Larry Brooks
Success? They were always empty ... I thought the food was fantastic, but the neighborhood didn't support it. (Me included, I went but twice - it was a little too expensive for a quick bite at the bar type of place.) Chef Shephard has stated that he's planning on opening it in Manhattan where it will receive a more appropriate audience, while his new formula of Italian food, surprisingly, in an area overrun by Italian options, has done gangbusters. (Perhaps too much, so, as I preferred the leisurely pace and relative quiet that Taku offered.)
Walked by Hibino last night - the opening party was in full swing, though the dining room looked far from finished. Should be a nice space, will probably try to swing by on opening night.
Larry - if you heard otherwise regarding Taku's closing please correct me. Chef Shephard made a post on another food board regarding that, but I can't seem to be able to find it.
"Test Run" menu is in the window. 2 tofu dishes ($4-8), salmon($14) and shortrib($17) entrees, and 4-5 sushi entrees ($10-14).
There are also signs indicating that it's BYOB until they recieve their liquor license, and that they're temporarily cash only.
I may need to stop by this week.
The full menu is up and running now, though they are still waiting on a liquor license (It's BYOB at the moment).
Nice menu - half sushi / half prepared dishes.
I started with the croquettes, a daily special. It consisted of sushi rice cooked to an almost risotto-like consistency with eel and shiso leaf. This mixture was ten rolled into a ball, coated in panko crumbs, and deep fried. These were served four to an order ($4) and were quite tasty, with the fishiness of the eel combining well with the astringent mintiness from the shiso leaf. The creaminess of the rice definitely evoked a sense that these were probably really bad for you like croquettas from Spain, but - save for the fact that they were deep-fried (and deftly so) - they almost could be considered healthy. I might have liked a little more eel in the mix, but otherwise I immensely enjoyed this dish.
Next up was the shrimp wrapped in yuba ($8). I'm a huge fan of yuba, and while I didn't ask if they made it in house (they were *packed* tonight), and I had to go for it. It was a "shrimp log" (that kind of hardened shrimp loaf you find all over Japan) wrapped in thin sheets of yuba and deep fried. Very tasty and very simple.
Up last was a Kyoto-style futomaki ($9). It was a large roll stuffed with omelet, kanpyo (I think - not 100% sure), eel, tuna, and some other stuff. Essentially a kitchen sink sort of roll and recommended by the waitress as one of her favorites. It was very filling and full of very fresh fish, some of the best I've had in Brooklyn. Taro has some stiff competition if they stay at this level of quality, though I may just have to eat sushi twice as much instead of splitting my previous alotment of raw fishstuffs.
The service from the all-Japanese staff was quite friendly and very apologetic about the slight delays, which weren't too bad overall. (I was in an out in under an hour - the perfect amount of time to read the New York Times Magazine without having to backtrack and suffer through another William Safire diatribe.) As a previous reader mentioned, it's currently a cash-only establishment.
All in all it's a great addition to the neighborhood that I hope to see succeed and will definitely return to.
Dropped by here tonight and really enjoyed our dinner. The menu is about half (familiar) sushi items, including maki, and half (totally unfamiliar) Kyoto-style dishes. I've never even heard of this stuff before, so I can't at all tell you if it's authentic, but it was certainly good.
Tonight was only their second night open (and the space looks like it still needs some finishing up -- some walls and doorframes are half-painted), so the service was a bit haphazard, but the staff was extremely gracious and friendly.
Most of the food is small dishes, meant to be shared. The portions are pretty tiny, so if you're one of those people who complains about small portions, stay away from this place. That said, I wasn't stuffed when I left, but I definitely sated.
We had the obanzai special, a shrimp / tofu spring roll, and a spicy tuna roll. The Obanzai was 4 small dishes each filled with a different tasty item. My favorites were a seared tuna on a toothpick with cucumber, and a rice ball croquette. Both subtle, well-seasoned and delicious. The spicy tuna roll was served with scallions and was the kind with a dollop of spicy mayo on top, not chili. I usually prefer chili, but this was rich and tasty. Fish was very good quality. The shrimp tofu roll was also quite good -- savory and salty in just the right ways.
We'll definitely be back.
Only a block away, I've been waiting for Hibino to open for months. Very excited this is in the 'hood. Hoping to taste as much as possible, the two of us ordered the Obanzai "Set Menu," the Hibino sushi plate, and the soy milk pudding.
In the Obanzai - the eel/ rice croquettes, and tuna bite were great; while the beans and potatoes were not memorable. The salad was nice, and the soup with fresh tofu was great. We were promised this will improve greatly and I can't wait.
In the sushi plate - all of the fish was fresh and well cut. While maybe not quite on par with the Taro omakase, it is very well priced and probably edges out both Cube and Iron Chef. It includes a ridiculous Futomaki roll that is enormous and includes tons of fresh fish.
Dessert was a vegan pleasure. While the girlfriend loved it, I'm not a fan of soy milk so the flavor might have been lost on me. However they included a nice complimentary green tea for us which we enjoyed.
With a boyb bottle of wine, the total tab was $40 - a bargain.
Had a really nice meal at Hibino tonight. Love that its BYOB (I've really started to enjoy byob'ing). For starters we shared a deep fried tofu dish and a beef short rib dish in a rich lovely broth. The tofu dish----tofu is not really something we tend to go for, but we knew its a specialty of theirs----was far more interesting than I thought it would be. Tender squares of lightly fried tofu, a nice sauce, spicy peppers (would have liked them to be spicier if I were to nitpick). Really loved the short rib dish. Seemed a little out of place on the menu (?) but I was glad we chose it. Fall apart tender meat.
Then we shared a lot of sushi. I have to say that the eel sushi was some of the tastiest I've ever had at a sushi restaurant and I couldnt help but order an extra piece later. It really was that good.
We had the futomaki but found it to have too many flavors and therefore a bit too muddled. It was nice but you just couldnt really figure out what in the world you were tasting with so many flavors competing.
Really enjoyed the yellowtail sashimi, the shrimp tempura roll, and a yellowtail jalepeno roll.
The staff is very friendly and obvriously trying hard to please. A couple of service issues but I'm sure they'll get ironed out. Our waitress ran out to say good bye as we left.
I'll definitely be back...I miss Taku a lot and this is probably the closest thing I've seen to filling that void for me.
Tried Hibino for the 1st time last night. Got there around 9;15 and there was about a 15 minute wait. They graciously took our names and cell phone number and called us when the table was ready. They also took our bottle of white and kept it chilled. When we sat we were told there was no obanzai left and no tofu left either. Both were the main reasons we came and tried to readjust ourselves. We ordered a salad with duck and a shrimp spring roll in tofu skin. We also ordered a sushi platter and some rolls and individual pieces of sushi. Along the way, we were also told they were out of numerous pieces of sushi that we wanted as well. Then, the waiting began...It was clear the servers were stretched thin, but it took 45 minutes for our sald and spring roll to come. They were both tasty, but certainly smallish portions. Then, when the rolls and individual pieces came, it took at least another 15-20 minutes for the sshi platter to come. The sushi was quite good and fresh, and we definitely enjoyed it. I would put it on par with the better Brooklyn sushi places. Finished with green tea ice cream and a very enjoyable soy milk puding. A nice end to the meal. Total cost $60, not including tip...So overall, and incomplete review. Didn't get to sample the main reasons we went there. The staff was very nice, but after a month of operation, I hope that they soon get down how much supply they need for the day and are able to coordinate the kitchen better, so that it doesn't take 45 minutes to get food. We certainly weren't the only ones with the same issues, as we watched the table around us. We'll go back, b/c we want to like this place and for it to succeed.
Not excusing your experience, but their blog post today seems to address the problem:
>>We are so fortunate.
As you already know by now, we are a very small capital restaurant.
(In fact, micro capital restaurant! It's a miracle we came this far..., really...)
So, we couldn't hire enough staff for the opening month.
We weren't sure how many people would come to eat at our place.
But if you hire somebody, (even if you have no money) you have to pay them.
For opening month, instead of hiring extra person (since we weren't sure of financial outcome of our place), we are having a bunch of helpers. They are friends and former colleagues of chefs and staff. They are chefs, waiters, and regular office workers. They equally contributed to Hibino's operation. Without them, we wouldn't be standing here (without any exaggeration).
I introduced some of them already, but we'd like to give our thanks to them again.
Thank you so much, Mukai-kun, Choi-kun, Jin-kun, Xue-kun, Yanagi-san, Hiroshi-kun, Arisa-san, Shiho-san, Vicente!
And last, but not least, Chiaki-san who is in Japan now.
Hopefully, we can hire extra person very soon. So we can serve you faster ;-) <<
Thursday at 730p, we walked in to an empty room; but it quickly filled up. The highlight of the evening was the Sushi Salad. 7-8 pieces of nigiri with shiso and greens pressed into the rice, topped with a thin egg and then various fish.
Count me a fan. We ate on a weeknight last week. The agidoshi tofu was delicious with the right amount of bite. The standout obanzai dish was a smoked salmon in oil and pickled cabbage. The sushi was top notch, much better than our standard BH sushi delivery options. I also enjoyed the panko-crusted eel roll with avocado. The staff were friendly and trying to make a good impression. There were also a number of tables with what seemed like Japanese students. That seemed a particularly good sign. We'll be back.
One more thing: I find myself torn between wanting them to do delivery (which they suggested is in the works) and staying as a primarily sit-down option. It would be a shame to see such a strong start (in my book) watered down to a run of the mill sushi delivery joint.
Ate at Hibino a few nights ago and though the experience was positive, I don't see myself eating there too often. I would definitely eat there again though.
Ambiance: Nice, but maybe the decor is a little too "neighborhoody?" I don't know. It struck me a bit amateurish.
Service: Really nice. There was one awkward part where I was leaving to buy a bottle of sake and the waiter stopped me at the door and asked to see my ID. Even so, everyone was super.
Food: The daily apps were definitely the highlight, and everyone in my party agreed they'd come back and maybe just order them alone. We had this fantastic fried lotus root cake with shrimp, a seaweed salad with fresh bamboo shoots and a bass dish. I'd recommend them all. The sushi was pretty good, but not any better than Ki on Smith street. Solid but not spectacular. I've since heard that the pressed sushi is great so I guess I'll be going to back to give that a try. We found the entrees a dissapointment... not only average in flavor, but for some reason everything came out lukewarm.
I've been there twice and enjoyed the food both times. However, I wasn't too sure what to make of the pressed sushi. I had the one with yellow tail, shiso and shitake. When it came out, it wasn't what I had expected. It's basically square sushi with a piece of shitake and shiso on the inside of each piece. The yellow tail is on top, but it's cooked or dried or something - it's prepared in some unrecognizable form. It's tasted fine, but definitely isn't my favorite thing on the menu.
The other food I've had has been great - I particularly liked all of the various obanzi I've tried as well as the soy custard for desert.
I've been there twice - both times were great. The miso salmon was delicious, as was the sushi salad. For lunch, two of us shared the tuna takaki and the lunch special with two rolls. The sushi was fantastic, and the salad was delicious, though there was quite a bit of lettuce between the two dishes. Our other dining companion had the teryaki salmon bento box, which looked delicious. I intend to go back often!