Thursday, January 19, 2006


hanabi sushi is a cozy little neighborhood japanese restaurant located in the lower haight. the music is usually good and eclectic in a fantastic plastic machine way, for which you can thank the sushi chef. the owners are warm and welcoming and the is food fine. not fine as in fine dining or the finest sushi, but fine as in consistent, warming and relatively inexpensive. and as an added bonus, there are lots of options for vegetarians. we usually order the dinner box which goes for around $12. sounds like a lot but you get your choice of three items, plus soup, salad, a little tofu salad plate, rice and tea. the tofu salad plate consists of salted and vinegared bean sprouts, daikon radish shreds and cucumber with a few pieces of firm tofu. very tasty.

these days we don't go to hanabi much since we don't live in the neighborhood but, during a recent drunken promenade around town, we found ourselves gripping an empty flask of bourbon with gurgling stomachs in the old 'hood. right in front of hanabi, as it so happens. and so in we went.

and it was like stepping back a fistful of years. same faces, same food, same, to be honest the music was bad on that night. japanese pop ballads al la celine dion. maybe shinya the sushi chef was feeling old, or nostalgic, or just has a twisted sense of humour. or all of the above.

anyway, out came the miso soup, tofu salad and beer. the beer was very good.

and then our dinner boxes. and some more beer, which continued to be very good. i won't say how many of these very good beers we put away, but you can judge for yourselves by checking out the rapidly degrading quality of the pictures. suffice to say the image in the viewfinder looked as sharply defined as did my dining companion across the table.

my blurry companion ordered his equally blurry dinner box with tuna sashimi, saba teriyaki and california roll. the california roll was basic - the rice isn't the greatest quality but is passable and not overly seasoned, the crab was really surimi (but this is the norm, even in japan) and the avocados were quite ripe. the mackeral was nice and fatty and bathed in your standard teriyaki sauce. the sashimi was reported to be okay...neither great nor awful.

i selected the natto gyoza, vegetable tempura and stir fried tofu. the tempura is of the type with a heavier batter, not the delicate lacy type found at less homestyle restaurants but i like it both ways. the coating was crispy when it came out and stayed crispy through the last bite with the vegetables cooked thorougly. the gyoza, i don't know why i ordered it, i don't like gyoza. it was greasy and flaccid and i wouldn't recommend it. the tofu stirfry however was very tasty. lots of vegetables and firm tofu slices bathed in a slightly sweet and spicy sauce. we finished with a green tea ice cream ($1.50) which came out in it's little single serve carton. very creamy with a strong green tea flavor.

hanabi is the quintessential neighborhood japanese restaurant. it's not someplace to get the most sparkling still wriggling fresh sushi, the best rice, or the most daring flights of culinary fancy, but if you're in the neighborhood and crave a nice comforting box of japanese food in a warm environment and (hopefully) good music this place is a good bet.

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hanabi sushi
509 haight street
san francisco
415 621 1500


Blogger endy smith said...

all suchi restaurant must have a real japanese cooker to make dishes taste appropriate. But there can be another problem of misunderstanding because of different languages and writing a good term paper manages with this quiclke. So, don't be shy and ask for a help.

2:59 AM  

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