Total Bill: $180 for three
Sometimes a lack of change can be nice. Hatsuhana has been around since the 70s, a mainstay of midtown sushi as its surroundings morphed into the corporate epicenter that it is today. It’s easy to write off a lot of these midtown restaurants, catered mostly for quick lunches or happy-hour specials. But Hatsuhana draws the suits and sushi savants alike — a testament to the fact that at the end of the day, it’s good, quality food that lasts.
They don’t promise Gari’s decadence, Nakazawa’s celebrity or Shuko’s avant-gardism. But they offer tradition and, literally, a box of dreams that’s otherworldly.
You get a sampling of luscious tuna, succulent hamachi, plump salmon roe, velvety uni and more. Beneath each, a perfect handful of rice.
For uni-lovers who want more, they offer sea urchin in their small-bowls section, paired with a bursting spoonful of salmon roe.
For something different, you’ll want to try the kanpachi daikon — five glimmering slices of amberjack based in a truffle oil garlic soy-sauce spooning equally thin slices of daikon radish. Raw daikon going up nearly one-to-one against the raw amberjack creates this neat amalgamation of earthish and oceanic flavors.
If that’s not enough raw fish for you, check out the sashimi deluxe. Here you’ll get a taste of their corpulent lobster in its best form: uncooked, unseasoned. You’ll also get some of the fattiest fatty tuna around. It’s tough to remember the last time fish just dissolved on the tough as they did here.
To whet our appetite for all this, we started with a spicy tempura — shrimp padded in a thick chili batter, fried and served with a dash of curry powder. It’s an unusual, but now so obviously logical, shakeup to the traditional shrimp tempura.
The flavors were just as profound in the green tea ice cream dessert.
Green tea fans would do well with just endless bowls of this ice cream, somehow packed with more tea flavor than drinking straight matcha. But the real surprise comes in the beautifully made mochi balls, which are dense, but at the same time fluffier than Batali’s gnocchis.
It’s encouraging to see that Hatsuhana hasn’t fallen under the radar because of its age, especially as aggressive newcomers keep shifting the seas of Japanese dining in the city. It’s a comforting constant and deserves any eater’s time.