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Hana: Central PHX Sushi Review

winedubar Apr 25, 2007 09:20 AM

Hi,

So last nite went to look at some art my friend is crazy about on grand ave *some day people, grand ave will have more than the galleries and bikini lounge, it'll be shopping and restaurants but i digress..ahhh a girl can dream* and then headed to hana for sushi. we drove over almost giddy with anticipation. please please please let it be good.

we get there, and hone in a good parking spot. we walk in and half of the tables are filled. a smiling but harried server comes over and seats us. i say harried, because obviously they all were...not in an 'omg we're super stressed way' but in an 'omg its our first nite here and we've got PEOPLE' kind of way. all nite, the service was GREAT - if our server was behind, someone swooped in to help so we were never low on beverages..

which, unfortunately, hana hit one of my pet peeves. ok i know drinks in a CAN, esp under the pretense of dining out, are a quick way to rack up your total. no free refills on iced tea in a can my friends, and this ucc green tea, while good, was 2.75 a bottle. and of course for me one 12 oz can won't make it thru a meal, so i get the regular iced tea at 1.75. that makes 4.50 in ICED TEA. that seems a bit spendy to me...

we start out with big bowls of miso. big steaming bowls with nice sized chunks of tofu and extra seaweed. i mean extra. the bowl looked green at the top when they brought it out :) it was really good and made us want to try their noodle dishes.

we ordered eel, yellowtail, mackeral, salmon, and ahi, each 5 bucks. standouts were the mackeral, which was served with a delicate lemon slice and dallop of pea shoot microgreens, and the ahi was the clear winner. SUPER fresh, buttery soft, smooth, and the most beautiful ruby color. wow!!

the eel? average. the rest was good. we had the vegas rool at 8 bucks and the spicy tuna at 10.50. the vegas roll was way better. we ordered 2 spicy tuna rolls, but got 2 other rolls instead..they were just ok overall, but the shrimp in the roll? GREAT - if we could have figured out what it was we would have just stuck with the shrimp ;)

the interior was freshly painted and remodeled and had the beginnings of cuteness. the walls were completely devoid of any artwork or pictures so it was empty looking. but it was opening nite so it may be coming.

the service was great! all of the staff really wanted us to be happy and were totally on the ball. for an opening nite? holy moly, were they doing a great job - organized, efficient, quickly addressing issues.

the food? over all, pretty good. waaaaaaay better than zen 32, ichiban, or fish market. not as good as tokyo lobby. but hey, it was opening nite!!

so, there were three of us, and our total bill came up 62 dollars and change. 2 of us had eaten in the last month at tokyo lobby *48 bucks* and ichiban *41 bucks, and review coming shortly*. we felt like the prices for sushi were a bit high because barring the order snafu, we didn't order as much sushi as we had at either place.

the prices for the rest of the menu? let me put it to you this way - every other entree on the menu started at 17.95. the noodle soups et al started at 12 bucks and went up from there. the lobster tail and steak was about 40 bucks...

it just seemed expensive for a little spot in a strip mall.

i'd like to try again once they've settled....

but there you go in a nutshell!!!!

anyone else go last nite???

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  1. grrlscout RE: winedubar Apr 25, 2007 09:24 AM

    Thanks for the review! We're heading there for lunch today.

    1. t
      tdreyno RE: winedubar Apr 25, 2007 10:28 AM

      Are asterisks the new parenthesis? Thanks for the review :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: tdreyno
        winedubar RE: tdreyno Apr 25, 2007 10:36 AM

        funky punctuation - its new for spring ;)

      2. grrlscout RE: winedubar Apr 25, 2007 01:21 PM

        We just got back. We got there around noon, and we were probably the third table. So we got seated right away.

        I was really pleased with my lunch. The ahi was ruby red, buttery, and just divine. The best I've had in the Valley. The tempura was a touch greasy, but the shrimp within were sweet and had a good, firm texture.

        Service is still a bit off, but friendly. I got all of my dishes, and then my colleague got his when I was done.

        I think the prices are lower for lunch. We each paid about $17. My tuna sushi was $5.50 and the ebi tempura $5.25. My colleague's teryaki bento box was $11.95. I did manage to score a menu. So if you'd like to compare notes, just say the word.

        4 Replies
        1. re: grrlscout
          tastyjon RE: grrlscout Apr 27, 2007 06:09 PM

          Does the menu indicate hours of operation? I was thinking of checking it out Mon. but wanted to make sure it was open (I have a family owned place near me closed on Mondays so they can rest). Also a phone #? I did a Google search and it brings up a Hana Sushi near 7th Ave & Union Hills, which might cause some confusion!

          Finally - do you forsee limits on seating? Could a group of 8 or 10 office workers sit together, for example? Thanks.

          1. re: tastyjon
            azhotdish RE: tastyjon Apr 27, 2007 06:26 PM

            Hey Jon, what's the local place? Mishima? Just guessing since we're close...

            1. re: tastyjon
              h
              hzp RE: tastyjon Apr 27, 2007 08:03 PM

              there was a note on the door saying they closed at 9, and I got this listing off yellowpages.com

              (602) 973-1238

              there aren't many tables, and the place is small, but, from my perspective, yes, they could accomodate with one long table.

              1. re: tastyjon
                grrlscout RE: tastyjon May 2, 2007 08:20 AM

                There are no hours listed on their menu, and the phone number that hzp posted is correct.

            2. Firenza00 RE: winedubar Apr 25, 2007 01:30 PM

              Where are they located?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Firenza00
                grrlscout RE: Firenza00 Apr 25, 2007 01:41 PM

                5524 N 7th Ave., on the NW corner at Missouri.

              2. a
                AZBconcierge RE: winedubar Apr 25, 2007 10:26 PM

                Well, I dove in to try it tonight.

                Incredible. I highly reccommend it to anyone as the fish I had compared to any other in town was just fresher!

                I spoke with the sushi chef for quite a bit and the owners lori and ruth who were all quite nice. Chef explained that all of his fish comes from Japan and he is willing to pay a little more and organize himself better in order to make it balance out. He then went on to describe the sushi as "authentic Tokyo style sushi" and explained that most of the sushi in town which is the big ball of rice with a piece of fish over the top is created simply out of laziness. He used some very interesting garnishes on the whitefish *AMAZING* and the albacore which was also extremely interesting. I had the toro and ahi as well which were fantastic and I can agree with the above reviews... I've never seen or tasted ahi quite like it. He finished off my meal with a very nicely done eel, prepared in a fashion I am used to with one difference. The ball of rice was very small, as it was on all the rest of the pieces, which according to him is how it supposed to be done.

                I did not try any of the entrees or rolls. As far as I am concerned, rolls are not sushi, and according to my brother who lives in Japan, they are completely an american creation. Next visit I will try an entree because according to the sushi chef, his dad (the kitchen chef) is the japanese equivelent of a Le Cordon Bleu and has done french tepanyaki at Kikkoman in Tokyo. The restaurant is owned, operated, and managed by one family. Mom and dad are the head cooks, the son is the sushi chef, and the girls manage the restaurant and do table waiting. I'm much more impressed by a family operation where they take passion in what they do rather than some corporate conglomerate (RA) or a place owned by a white restauranteur (Moto) who has no passion.

                Synopsis: Incredible experience and definitely my top choice in Phoenix for sushi. I'll be back, and definitely giving it my reccommendation.

                2 Replies
                1. re: AZBconcierge
                  silverbear RE: AZBconcierge Apr 26, 2007 06:10 PM

                  Even though you did not try any of the entrees, did you notice what types were listed on the menu?

                  1. re: silverbear
                    a
                    AZBconcierge RE: silverbear Apr 26, 2007 06:54 PM

                    Yea I did. I noticed the guy right next to me eating what looked to be a tremendous piece of red meat.

                2. ccl1111 RE: winedubar Apr 26, 2007 12:21 PM

                  looking forward to the tokyo lobby and ichiban reviews!!!!

                  1. tastyjon RE: winedubar Apr 26, 2007 05:24 PM

                    Quick question: Address?

                    The Hana sushi in most of the online engines/directories is in N. Phoenix.

                    Thanks, Jon

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: tastyjon
                      hohokam RE: tastyjon Apr 26, 2007 05:45 PM

                      Looks like grrlscout gave the address above:
                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39529...

                      It took me a couple of minutes to remember that someone has posted it somewhere in the thread ;-)

                      1. re: hohokam
                        Firenza00 RE: hohokam Apr 26, 2007 06:56 PM

                        Yeah, I think I was the one who asked. :)

                    2. h
                      hzp RE: winedubar Apr 27, 2007 02:50 PM

                      okay. you peeps know that i am a sushi HOUND. there is no mercy for bad sushi in town. i don't care what the reviews say, what is the most popular... its all about de fish :)

                      we headed down to hana for lunch, i've been dying to try it out. i went with my favorite dining partner, my dad (who is always game for pretty much anything).

                      we ordered a "melange" of dishes... the tempura app, some miso, the fried oysters and then a smackling of sushi... aji mackeral, yellowtail and red snapper sashimi, octupus sushi, alaska roll and squid.

                      first, i will say, its a bit slow, they're struggling to keep up, but they did say more staff was forthcoming. its not a reluctance to hire.

                      so, the apps.... fried oysters... i've promised my trainer i'd do my best to stay away from anything fried, so I somehow managed to eschew the oysters, but they looked good, my dad loved them, and we're east coasties, so we're hard to please. thumbs up. infact, he was a bit worried about time (hes a doc on lunch break from the hospital) but upon tasting the oysters immediately said, "oh, they've got it. this is GOOD." and his entire attitude changed.

                      Next, the tempura: i just couldn't resist. it looked too damn good. and, you know how often, tempura is soggy and like... its melted into the shrimp and veggies? This was the lightest tempura batter i've ever had, perfect to a crisp, laying on top of the shrimp and veggies. I had a mushroom and some eggplant ("oh no... go ahead and add those extra 30 sit ups on") and it was cooked perfectly.

                      I'm allergic to MSG, so I asked about the miso first (real miso has no MSG), and its the real stuff. And it was fabulous. right amt of tofu, right amt of miso, right amt of onion and a few perfect pieces of seaweed.

                      We were given a small octopus salad which was great, just due to the wait.

                      Next, the sushi. The alaska roll came out first ("another lap around the block you say?). It was SO good. not too much rice, the salmon was perfect, the crab mix was great, and my favorite: it was topped with flying fish roe and onion.

                      oh, did i mention the kick ass fresh wasabi/onion mix that we got?

                      Next came the octupus and squid, which I didn't taste, but my dad thought was some of the best he's had in town.

                      Finally, the sashimi started coming out. It was cut fresh for us. The mackeral was served on a shiso leaf, with the head and tail, and the mackeral was mixed with a generous amt. of ginger. Honestly, it was the best mackeral i've ever had. My dad asked them to deep fry the rest of the fish (you can get this at other places) and they happily complied.

                      The yellowtail and red snapper were next. First, the portions are remarkably generous. For 10$ a plate, I'd stack it against any sashimi it town, definitely for value, and after tasting it, for quality. The red snapper melted like butter in my mouth. Loved the garnishes and the perfect ponzu.

                      The yellowtail was just as good.... it wasn't mushy like I've so often found... it had a nice bite to it, and was obviously really fresh. Dipped in the afore mentioned wasabi/green onion mixture, it was like a slice of heaven. with fins. :)

                      pricewise.. yes, its competitive, although by no stretch cheap, but it was worth it. we'll be back next week.

                      in the meanwhile, the sushi chef was overly effusive and kind, very chatty, which i happen to like, as was the staff.

                      overall, aces, but again, i'd warn people that they need to be patient with the staff about waiting for food, etc.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: hzp
                        grrlscout RE: hzp Apr 27, 2007 03:53 PM

                        Hey I may have seen you there! I stopped in around noon and got some tuna nigiri and miso soup to go. YES, I went twice in one week. Shame on me. Oh hey, I even took a pic of my lunch (attached).

                         
                        1. re: grrlscout
                          h
                          hzp RE: grrlscout Apr 27, 2007 04:33 PM

                          i think i did see you!

                      2. a
                        AZBconcierge RE: winedubar Apr 27, 2007 11:28 PM

                        just came back from my second visit. Took my parents this time. I let kaji san pick what I eat...

                        That said, he brought me the ahi which we already know is good, then the albacore which I loved last time, then the halibut which I've never had raw. That was interesting since I don't like soft fish, but his sauce was great. Then the salmon which is always good and he says came from alaska. The two surprises at the end were the giant clam sauteed with oyster and a mushroom lemon sauce, delectible!!!

                        The finale, we thought he was just showing off but it is really on the menu. He went in back and got a small fish, then proceeded to gut it right in front of us... I was scared at this moment! After gutting it, he put a stake through it in kind of an S shape... through the head, then body, then tail and tempura fried it. He then put radish on the plate in the middle, with a leaf on top, and then brought the fish and put it on top of that making me wonder what I was in for. The presentation was awesome!! I ate the flesh of the fish, while staring it right in the eyes... a totally unique and unforgetable experience. After eating all of the yummy mackeral I asked if the rest was edible which he replied yes and then showed me how to eat it and my mom and I enjoyed the rest of the fish (minus the head I'm not that brave.) I'll never forget when I ate something while staring it in the eyes!! haah

                        1. h
                          hzp RE: winedubar May 1, 2007 03:47 PM

                          couldn't help it. went back for lunch. had salmon, yellowtail and halibut on recommendation of chef.

                          you know, its too bad i'll never get to try their regular stuff, becuase the sushi is so damn good i can't imagine having room for anything else.

                          1. tastyjon RE: winedubar May 3, 2007 10:23 PM

                            6 of us newbies ate there tonight and it was great. It's a nice, clean, open space. Not huge, but not small either. The staff were attentive and friendly. The chef came over to explain some of the offerings. We were at a table and I couldn't quite see the specials on the board behind the bar, so I asked about them. He turned to review them and turned right back: "Don't order any of them. I have some really great fish in today that I'd love to prepare for you." That made me (and others there) an instant fan.

                            Everything was top notch in terms of portions, presentation and quality. I've never been a rabid sushi fan (compared with some friends) as I love rich, well spiced, or hot (firey) fare. But I could be won over with the simplicity and boldness of the singular flavors of Hana's sushi/sashimi.

                            As mentioned here, they have another full menu - but I also would have a hard time moving beyond the piscan choices. One a side note, they've not yet gotten their liquor license (about a month from now), but I asked in advance and they are fine letting you bring in your own sake or japanese beer - no fees.

                            1. h
                              hzp RE: winedubar Jun 1, 2007 06:37 PM

                              was there and they mentioned they now had a website: hanajapaneseeatery.com

                              this was helpful in that you know, those rare days i DON'T crave sushi, i now have a website that will make me hunger for it again.

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