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Visited in December 2016
17 East 48th St
New York, NY 10017

New York City is so beautiful all year round, but during holidays it’s really something special.  The lights, the sparkles, the wonderful aromas of roasting nuts and pretzels on one corner, hotdogs and shish ka bobs on another, and halal meats on a third…  It is such a sight.  No matter how cold it is, it really does warm your heart.  Wow that so does not sound like me.  I sound like such a sap!  But really, I’ve done a good amount of traveling during the holidays, and I don’t mean to offend anyone, but other cities really cannot compare.  Brussels is up there, but all the other big cities, Paris, Rome, Florence, Milan, Prague, Vienna, Madrid, Budapest, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Tokyo, none really compares.

And corny as it sounds, boyfriend and I LOVE going to Rockefeller Center and admiring the tree.  I’ll give the big European cities this though, they have hot wine.  Nothing beats hot wine when standing in the freezing cold enjoying the surroundings.  I wish we had hot wine.  Heck, I wish they allow open bottles (alcohol) in the streets.  What is that called?  So few cities in the States have it, Savannah, New Orleans, Vegas…  Is that it?  Man, I love my wonderful country, but we are so restrictive!

OK, back to Hatsuhana.  I used to work in midtown, so I used to come here a bit.  They have amazing lunch and dinner specials, and you can get their acclaimed “box of dreams” special.  And honestly, back then, as someone that very much enjoyed good fish, but didn’t know a whole lot about it, so long as you had the staples, the salmon, tuna, yellowtail trio, and something special, some UNI, and some IKURA, all of which is included as part of the “box of dreams” special, you thought you “had it all”.  For that reason, and for the sheer fact that young professionals (or just me) tend to count their pennies just a tad bit more, the “special” had it all, no need to try the omakase.  Now, I know better.

Their famous box of dreams (we didn’t have this, so this isn’t my photo, I just pulled this off google):

While I know and AGREE that the “box of dreams” is a force to be reckoned with, ESPECIALLY with its super low price tag of $38 bucks, I’m shocked and confused with why their omakase have not received more press and traction.  At a mere $70 for 10 pieces, or $100 for 15 pieces, it comes to $7 or less per serving!  This is INCREDIBLY low for omakase standards.  I don’t get it, it was great, and yet no stars, no press, no attention.  Whaaa???


Our Omakase tonight:

  1. KINMEDAI (Golden eye snapper) – Check this baby out! One of my favorite whitefish and fish in general of all time.  This KINMEDAI was perfectly ABURIed (torched), and sprinkled with a tiny bit of sea salt.  DELISH!
  2. ISHIDAI (Barred knifejaw) – ISHIDAIs are quite hard to find in the city, my last time having it was my July visit to SUSHI NAKAZAWA. Although during that visit, while I thought chef Nakazawa’s fish was great, his dressings completely overpowered the fish.  This time, our chef (whom I unfortunately did not catch the name of) prepared it perfectly.  Topping it with shaved ginger, a squeeze of citrus and sprinkle of salt.  Magnificent!
  3. KANPACHI (Amberjack) – We had two yellowtails as part of our omakase. Both were outrageously good, aged perfectly with a beautiful crunch.  The only confusing aspect was the hint of nuttiness?  I’ve never had that… 
  4. SHIMA AJI (Striped jack) – Same as the KANPACHI, amazing. It had same odd hint of nut which didn’t bother me, except not understanding where it came from.
  5. IKURA (Salmon Roe) – These huge pearls that popped in your mouth were seasoned beautifully. There were some crushed pearls which I was not a fan of, but still.    BTW, to this point, I was so pleased with the sequencing of fish, light and bright whites, then yellowtails, but why the IKURA so early?  I was expecting tunas or silvers after the yellowtails…
  6. Santa Barbara UNI – Love Santa Barbara UNI season!
  7. ENGAWA (Fluke fin) – Six magnificent pieces, we were bound to have one lesser piece. The ENGAWA itself was good, it was topped with MOMIJI OROSHI (Grated Daikon Radish marinated with red chili peppers) and thinly sliced scallions is a great topper for lots of fishes, which wasn’t quite enough.  ENGAWAs really need some citrus and maybe some shiso to brighten it up. 
  8. HAMACHI-SUNAZURI (Yellowtail belly) – If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of HAMACHI-SUNAZURIs. Just don’t want them in my omakase given its mass accessibility.  None the less, this was very really good, it was flash ABURIed (torched) and topped with MOMIJI OROSHI and scallions.  See, the MOMIJI OROSHI and scallion combo worked wonderfully here!
  9. CHUTORO (Medium fatty Tuna) – My favorite of the toros! This was fantastic!  No veins, no chewiness, no funky aftertaste.  Loved it!
  10. OTORO (Super fatty Tuna) – CHUTOROs are my favorite, OTOROs, not so much. Reason is because the fat renders so much oil that it leaves a grime within your mouth after consumption.  So it really takes a high quality OTORO to woo me.  And was I wooed!!!  YUM, YUM, YUM, YUM, YUM!!!!  I am impressed!
  11. KINABAGO (Anchovy) – Funny, my boyfriend who is Italian and I, who is Chinese was just having this whole conversation about Anchovies. Both our cultures enjoy anchovies.  Prepared differently of course.  He loves Anchovies on his pizza, me not so much.  HAHAHA!  This one was ok, a little fishy for my taste.
  12. MIRUGAI (Giant geoduck clam) – This is the most unattractive cut of MIRUGAI I have seen in quite some time! HOWEVER, just like how good looking servings don’t always taste good, unattractive servings don’t necessarily mean they are bad.  This was delish!!!
  13. SAYORI (Needle fish) – For a long time, the SAYORI was completely underappreciated, and very few sushiyas would serve it. I’ve loved it from my very first serving at USHIWAKAMARU many, many years ago.  These last two years, they’re making its way into the high end sushi scene.  Yay!  Another beautiful cut!
  14. ANAGO (Sea eel)/SANMA (Pacific saury) – For the second to last serving, boyfriend had ANAGO, not much to say there, all ANAGOs taste 99% the same. I on the other hand, specifically requested no ANAGOs, SO, I get what I normally would love, one of my favorite silvers, the SANMA.  This was the second disappointment.  This was over-cured, and fishy.  For this, I would have stuck with the ANAGO.  BOOOO! 
  15. NEGITORO BOWL – What a finale!!! Most sushi-yas will give you a tiny little hand roll.  Hatsuhana gives you a BOWL.  It’s the same high quality TORO as the CHUTORO and the OTORO, served atop a shiso leaf and the same lovely sushi rice, pretty substantial in size too!  Fantastic end.  IF we were normal people, we can be full with just this.  BUT not us! 

Add ons:

  1. AWABI (Abalone) – Boyfriend’s favorite “fish” after UNI. This was SO good.  Though available year round, very few NYC sushiyas stock AWABI.  Chefs claim that there just isn’t enough clientele to appreciate/warrant the order.  What a pity…  This AWABI was incredible, almost ties with our recent AWABI from our favorite sushiya, Blue Ribbon Izakaya, who SELDOMLY have it, but still a little bit away from KURUMA ZUSHI, which would be my (not boyfriend’s, just my) favorite if they weren’t in midtown, had a better atmosphere, and didn’t charge us a gazillion bucks!  IF, IF, IF…
  2. NAMADAKO (Live octopus) – I can’t believe I forgot to photograph this one! If the fish is good, who wouldn’t want a health (thick) cut?  While that statement is almost always true, not so with NAMADAKO.  NAMADAKO is LIVE octopus, which means it is raw, which means it’s super chewy.  You need to slice it super thin, or score it a million times before it’s chewable.  This was an insanely thick healthy cut, so while I can taste that the fish was super fresh, I couldn’t really enjoy it…
  3. BOTAN EBI (Spotted sweet shrimp) – Always a fan of the BOTAN EBI. I didn’t have this though, only boyfriend.  He thought it was fantastic!
  4. AJI (horse mackerel) – After the very mediocre KINABAGO and SANMA, I was looking for a redeeming silver fish, thought the AJI was “safe”. I guess so…  While it wasn’t stellar, it was good enough.  I was just hopeful…
  5. SURUME-IKA (Pacific flying squid) – I’m not a huge fan of SURME-IKAs, it is a lesser squid than that YARI or the AORI IKAs, but it came highly recommended. So I tried…  Boy was this fantastic!  It was not the slightest bit chewy, and the NORI (seaweed) and ABURIed UNI just wrapped this serving up in the prettiest of metaphorical bows.  Fantastic!!!
  6. AWABI (Abalone) – For our last piece, we went for the tried and true, and oh so hard to get in NYC, the AWABI repeat. What a lovely end to our night!


Overall Thoughts:

A wide variety of incredibly fresh and delicious fish, at an amazing price, what more can you ask for?  Location and atmosphere.  But we can’t have it all, can we?  Hatsuhana got an impressive overall rating of 32.  RARE!  Note that to many others, atmosphere really matters, this place had very little of that…