Sunday, February 06, 2011

Adventures in Restaurant Week, Part 1: I Can Haz Sushi Again

I am apologizing in advance for the way that Internet Culture has affected me some because I am now quoting lolcats.  It's shameful, I know.

The point though is that after a three and a half year self-inflicted hiatus from the world of sushi, I can finally eat it again.

Before eyes roll signifying a questioning of my sanity, I have a perfectly logical and smug explanation for my misgivings.

Ever since my two week stint in Japan way back in 2007, I have found it very difficult to be satisfied by any sushi offerings here in NYC.  Call me a snob if you like, or call me poor for not being able to go eat good sushi (the latter, really it's the latter) to fulfill the void but I tried twice at most, at two decent places and I just couldn't do it.

The melting like butter in your mouth type sushi experience I had at the Tsukiji Fish Market was enough to ruin me for a long time.

With NYC's Winter 2011 Restaurant Week on, and (finally!) a craving for sushi, I decided that it was time and long overdue.  Unfortunately, Nobu was unavailable for consumption as they are only participating during lunch hours and there's no way for me to feasibly make that trip for lunch from our work location.

But damn you Nobu, I'll find myself there one day!

After many years of walking past our little cat and owl friends every morning on our way to work, I decided that maybe H1 and I should go to Hatsuhana.

Our friends are so blasted cute.
Restaurant Week is truly a wonderful thing as it allows you to try different food places at a prefix price which sometimes may be on the pricier side.  Lunch is $24.07 and Dinner runs $35.00, for a three course meal which includes your choice of appetizers, entree and dessert.

It's a fantastic way to treat yourself without too much hurting in the wallet, and a great way to try great restaurants and encourage future business.  If it's good, I'll try to find myself there again!  Of course, that's 'in theory' for me, as there are so many restaurants to try in NYC that H1 and I try to not eat at one place more than once.

Hatsuhana was a beautiful choice, hence my proclamation that I can eat sushi again.

Granted, my one little thing about the sushi was that I found the rice to be a little bit too vinegary, but it was overall very good.  As H1 rightly stated, the fact of the matter is is that I'd probably never eat anything as good as I had in Japan and that may very well be true (Nobu, are you going to prove me wrong one day or what?).

chopsticks - yes, I can use them
Alright, make that two things, our host asked us if we were okay using chopsticks.  He was just doing his job, I'm aware.  But yes, thank you.  I am okay using chopsticks.  Beetchie, sometimes I may fumble a dumpling at dim sum but please, just you shut it right now.

The Restaurant Week menu at Hatsuhana was "limited" in that there were really no options.  I liked that a lot because I was going there for sushi.  Whatever the hell they wanted to feed me, I was okay with that.

It's almost overwhelming
For the Japanese, presentation is key and as expected, our meals were plated beautifully - simple but appealing, and the bento was fabulous.

None of my pictures came out very good because I did not feel comfortable whipping out the big camera there.  I could have just asked but maybe next time.  This time, forgive the more awful than usual pictures!

Miso soup for starters
with a baby nameko mushroom.  Just like the promised.  Those mushrooms were great.
The miso was okay.  I've had better miso but too, this miso's flavour was completely changed by the mushroom.  The mushrooms were yummy crunchy and added a nice texture otherwise.

I've no picture to show for it now but the ocean trout carpaccio was ultra fresh and brilliantly tasty.

Beansprouts: H1 was anticipating the worst but these turned out pretty damned good.

This is actually what H1 should have been wary of.  The crab asparagus deal.  It was okay but nothing I was seek in the future.
My roll choice: Eel and Avacado
I was a tad stupid.  I stupidly left my eel roll for last.  It was good but not as good as my sushi offerings.  What I was thinking?! You should always leave the best bite for last and I should have known that toro is always the best bite! I was displeased with myself a week ago, and I still am today.

H1 went with the spicy tuna roll and it was better than mine.  There is regrettably no picture to show for it.

Uh, did I even get a picture of the beautiful bluefin? Ack!
Not a flattering picture, but I can assure you it was delightful urchin.
The least favourite of the batch was the red snapper but everything else was fabulous especially the bluefin, of course! H1 had a hard time with the texture of the urchin but on taste, it was creamy and wonderful.  The creaminess might have been H1's problem but again, I loved that richness.

the halibut sashimi covered in salmon caviar

H1 wanted to know how many baby salmon we killed - lots.  We killed lots between us.  But they were so salty and perfect, sitting atop that halibut that no one death was wasted, and not appreciated.  Harsh? Yes.  Yummy? Yes (x2).

Dessert was good - really all I could think of was Beetchie while I ate it because I know she loves this azuki inspired jelly, ice-cream laden dessert which she often gets in Chinatown, except with Shaved Ice like a snow cone, am I correct Beetchie?

There are tasty azuki beans lurking beneath.
a sweet, refreshing end to a great meal
It was light, topped with delicate, juicy little mandarins and strawberries.  It was a good way to end a meal because it was so fresh.  Although, I would have been much happier ending my meal with more toro.  Damn my stupidity! Again! Ugh.

Now let us discuss the sake because while I should have done this first, it needs a little highlighting all its own.

I often order sake and always end up drinking it all myself.  Our kind, cutie host suggested the Yuki No Bosha  a medium, fruity, cold sake.  I am not an expert on sake, far from it nor do I drink it so often that I know good sake from the cheaper stuff but this one, just on taste and the smell! THE SMELL was incredible and the taste was not far behind.  It was so flavourful that I would have taken a bottle of it versus the $20 carafe, and that is of course, if I had $76 to burn which I did not.

It's a beautiful cup too
Cup and carafe together, even more of a beautiful thing.
look at how absolutely brilliant it is - the ice stays in the center piece, keeping your drink cold but never melting into it.
Apart from it being expensive, I probably would not have been able to drink even half the bottle though but heck, the train was not even a five minute walk away and I could have easily just stumbled there no problem.  Right, H1? You'd carry my ass like a good shista'!


  1. Sounds like a pretty good place to eat. I think me and the missus will try this one out, eventually.

    Got my paper done tonight. I have to hand it in tomorrow afternoon. It wound up being just over 10 pages long. I thought that was odd, because I found more relevant things to talk about with Gandhi than I did for one of my Fall classes, where my final paper wound up being only 8 pages. That course was four months. This one was 3 weeks. Intensive study though.

    Anyway, thanks for linking me to these three posts. I'll look through the Restaurant Week thing tomorrow.

  2. They're once again participating in Restaurant Week but I did not see that their menu is online. It's in the store front by the little cats though but I haven't looked.

    Congrats on finishing the paper. Yeah, packing all that work into 3 weeks must have been bananas but I'm sure rewarding. It sounded like a pretty great course.

    No problem - thanks for reading and commenting! Glad to know I could pass some info on to you. Some people hate the idea of a Restaurant Week but I think it's a pretty cool way to budget, try a new place and get together with friends to do so.


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