Monday, January 5, 2015

Hana Zushi for Lunch

Hana Zushi
Shop 24/27 Sunny Park Plaza, Sunnybank

Sunny Breeze Restaurant had been a part of Sunny Park Plaza for so long that it felt almost like an icon. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and when I noticed Sunny Breeze had closed down, I was curious to see what it would follow. Hana Zushi opened in its place and I was instantly drawn in by the elegant dark decor and photos of attractive Japanese dishes on display. It was marked away as 'something I need to try' and last week we made the time to try it.

Over the new year long weekend, Marc and I developed into pure sloths, getting out of bed close to noon, napping throughout the day and then sleeping well into the midnight-AM bracket. Last Friday, we planned to have lunch out but because breakfast was around 11am, lunch didn't end up happening until 2-3pm. As it happens, Hana Zushi still had a few tables of diners then but I imagine it would have been busier during more regular eating hours.

I'm a great fan of their style of decor with slick, exposed stone bricks, black ceilings and red accents. The menu is quite comprehensive and includes many of what I think of as typical Japanese dishes: sashimi, sushi, skewers, hot pot, noodle dishes and rice dishes. We ordered a generous selection to munch on.

Small sashimi platter

The first item that was brought out was our sashimi platter. The presentation was stunning. I felt like I was eating through a miniature garden of raw seafood. I had read reviews online that the food at Hana Zushi was stale and inedible. Either I have no ability to tell freshness at all or we experienced an exception but Marc and I both thought the sashimi was very much edible and quite delicious.

Crumbed pork cutlet

The crumbed pork cutlet was brought out next. This was fried to a golden crisp and came with a curry dipping sauce and Japanese coleslaw side salad. The crunchiness was spot on but I did think the actual pork meat was a bit wet and chewy, as though it was fried right from frozen.

Seared salmon sushi roll

Our seared salmon sushi raised no complaints at all. This was our favourite dish of all. We love seared salmon on sushi/nigiri and this version had everything we loved (the sweet soy flavouring, the smoky charred, slightly cooked salmon) as well as tempura shrimp and seafood stick in the filling. So delicious!

Assorted skewer set

The last item we ordered was the assorted skewer set. I am glad we chose the assorted set because although there were some hits and misses, it allowed us to taste a wide variety. I liked the skewered mushrooms and all the meaty skewers. The chicken hearts (and other organs??) were less to our liking. Whenever I have Japanese skewers now, I'm going to compare to Birds Nest at West End. These were no where near as good as the skewers at Birds Nest.

I don't think Hana Zushi deserves all the bad reviews it has online. Some people must be very critical. We thought the food was quite good. Sure, there were elements that could have been improved upon but contrary to what other reviews say, the price is quite reasonable for Japanese cuisine so expectations shouldn't be too high. I saw lunch sets that were very good value and we were tempted to order those instead (maybe next time) so I don't agree with people who complain that the menu is too expensive. Perhaps they're comparing to other vendors in Sunnybank but you've got to keep in mind that Japanese food does tend to be more expensive than other Asian cuisine.
Hana Zushi on Urbanspoon

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