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Hibino review

Simon Apr 22, 2014 04:40 PM

Went here on a Sunday, as the conclusion of a long urban hike from Manhattan that crossed a bridge, circled Red Hook, and was preceded by wine and oysters at Henry Public next door...

-- it's a cute rustic space

-- staffed by friendly Japanese...there is a surfeit of staff really: we counted 8 servers/hosts/behind-the-counter-chefs...

-- the vibe, at 5:30 on Sunday, is almost comically dominated by young parents: literally the first five tables in a row in the restaurant were each grabbed by couples w/ (well-behaved, sushi-loving) toddlers...just describing, not judging ;)

-- the shrimp toji maki (shrimp/paste fried in yuba skin) was delicious and a large portion, though i could have done without the silly dots of bland sauce on the plate: we instead asked for yuzukosho and received just that, along w/ some ponzu w/ chili flakes...which was perfect for the dish...

-- appetizer special of grilled saba w/ asparagus...delicious and absurdly cheap at 5 bucks...(pic attached)

-- sashimi plate...26 bucks for "15 pieces" -- this was solid...

-- anago box sushi...eh...very disappointing...mushy strings of tamago on top, mushy eel, etc...

-- uni sashimi...we got a x2 order...and were surprised to see it served as a tiny cup of liquid...hardly any distinguible slabs of uni, but rather like a bottom-of-the-barrel watery mush of leftover uni...like a slimey vaguely uni-ish bit of dip...disgraceful...i would have sent it back in other circumstances, but we were having a great time and enjoying the place so we just averaged it in w/ the cheap yummy grilled saba and wrote it off...

-- tuna box sushi...eh...better than the anago one, but i really love box sushi as i used it to eat it often in Japan and this wasn't as good as they could do...

-- we liked the wines by the glass, esp the Albarino...

-- tofu custard dessert...tasty but served rather stupidly in a narrow jar that makes you dig through pure whipped cream to get a little taste of tofu...

Overall...i like the place and will go back...but i'll order carefully (i.e. perhaps concentrate on specials like the appetizers)...despite the flaws of the last few courses, it was still a tasty and fun meal...curious to hear other current impressions...

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    fishermb RE: Simon Apr 22, 2014 05:35 PM

    I'm sorry to hear you didn't love everything you had, for the 7 years that we have been in the neighborhood, we eat there or take out almost every week.

    The Obanzai daily special appetizers are a fantastic deal and gives you the chance to try new dishes without a big commitment.

    If you go again I would recommend one of the tofu appetizers as they make their own, the Agedashi is our favorite. And while we have always found the sushi fresh and high quality, the teriyaki chicken, a dish that's usually just average everywhere, is truly fantastic at Hibino.

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      Bkeats RE: Simon Apr 23, 2014 04:58 AM

      We also like Hibino quite a bit. They've opened a new outpost in LIC. I usually have the shrimp tojimaki but I like those little dots of spicy mayo.

      Yellowtail salad is very good. The beef kakuni is a favorite. Sounds like you had an off night as the sushi is usually better. Or, and this is been my fear since they opened the new place in LIC, the couple that run the place are focusing their attention on the new restaurant so quality has slipped a bit. I haven't seen them in our last couple of visits since they opened the new place.

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        Pookipichu RE: Simon Apr 23, 2014 08:49 AM

        The tofu in a jar is an awful idea, I had the tofu (non-dessert) that was also served in a narrow, small jar. Extremely cumbersome and non-sensical, and the way it is served did not add in any way to the enjoyment of the dish, rather, it made me never want to order it again.

        1. egit RE: Simon Apr 24, 2014 09:14 AM

          I went there once with DGF probably about two years ago. After reading so much about how people love this place and their box sushi, I owed it to myself to try it since we were in the hood.

          We waited about 45 minutes to get a table. I have no idea what we had as an appetizer, but I'm sure it was at least okay. I was *deeply* disappointed in my Spanish Mackerel box sushi. It did not taste fresh, and it was way too "cooked" for my taste. It was on the fishy side and the fish was so mushed that it was more like a mealy paste. Maybe I ordered wrong. I normally love mackerel sushi, so I was excited to try it. I know it's one of the stronger flavored fish, but this was beyond that.

          If it were closer to us, we'd probably try it again. But with the long wait, and the nose-wrinkling food, there are about 100 places I'd go before this one. I'm sure it's good. The Hibino loyalists can take comfort that I will not be crowding their restaurant!

          1. waxyjax RE: Simon Apr 24, 2014 07:33 PM

            I live a couple doors down. I think their obanzais, tofu dishes and miso soup are usually quite good. I used to love their miso-marinated salmon but they've had to reduce the portion size and raised the price so I don't get it anymore. I don't love their sushi -- although I do think their futomaki is great (and I normally do not ever like futomaki).

            I don't know if I'd particularly consider it a destination spot (depending how easy it is for someone to access some other Japanese spots in the city) - or a place I'd wait more than 20 minutes for. But a nice option if you're in the area.

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