Since I happened to be in the Towson area around dinner and my kids wanted sushi, we headed to Sushi Hana–one of our favorites. The other favorite in Towson is Kyodai Rotating Sushi Bar, one block away. (I’ll likely do a future post on them–GREAT sushi and fun experience!) I opted for Sushi Hana, since I learned they had Happy Hour (HH) specials.
A common trait of a successful HH is a menu of specials that speak to the uniqueness of the establishment. Sushi Hana’s HH is an example of basic HH; nothing unusual or unique here–$5 cocktails, $1 off beer and sake, half price house wine and selected $5 appetizers. The sake was a nod to their Japanese cuisine, as were a few of their appetizers. Unfortunately for us, there were no standout offerings here during our visit. We ordered the fried tofu (or age tofu) from the HH appetizer list–which also included edamame, avocado green salad, chicken bites, and “fish on a stick”, amongst others. None of these were real bargains at $5, nor did they scream of Japanese culinary creativity. The plating was fairly bland as well.
Side note: my son and I later had a mild debate about style versus substance. He prefers substance over style. I preferred a combination of the two, particularly with pricey food. I don’t mind paying extra for creative presentation AND high quality food. And with sushi, visual presentation is very much a part of the meal. More on this later.
As for sushi entrees, we normally have a fabulous meal here. We were a little disappointed during this visit. For starters, the menu had no prices on the sushi selections. They supplied a “cheat sheet” that described all the ingredients for cleverly-named rolls; but no prices. When asked, our server gave me the takeout menu that didn’t list prices for all the rolls on the cheat sheet. She had to look up the price of one roll for us–which ended up being higher than she originally guessed. Good thing we asked for the price check. That said, these rolls were not cheap in general. Once you go beyond the single ingredient rolls, the price goes up dramatically. We ordered one of the rolls on special: The Big Boss–crab, shrimp tempura, and lobster tail, with eel and avocado on the outside. At $24, we were expecting a good amount of seafood; certainly a tangible amount of lobster. What we got was mostly crab salad seasoned with Old Bay, with barely discernible shrimp tempura (thank goodness for the crispy coating; we wouldn’t have found the shrimp otherwise), and trace amounts of lobster. (See picture below for proportion.) The size of the roll was generous, but we were disappointed with the contents–particularly at that price point.
We also ordered the Dynamite roll: spicy tuna and salmon inside, tobiko (fish roe) on the outside. A bit light on the fish proportions. The spicy tuna overpowered the salmon, in my view. And again, uninspired plating for another over-priced roll.
This was not a cheap meal. Sushi seldom is. But we had higher expectations for the sushi at this establishment. And in the style versus substance debate, I’m not sure I can give a positive rating here in either category on this visit. The incomplete/mystery pricing thing was a bit off-putting as well, especially with higher price point cuisine.
Next time, I’m taking my wallet one block down to the rotating sushi bar, where I can get fairly- (and clearly- !) priced, good sushi off a fun conveyor belt.