Review: Sushi Hana Is Unafraid Of Adding More To Traditional Sushi
While the opening of Sushi Saito’s first outpost in Hong Kong has been highly anticipated, it would be remiss to pass over new players such as Tai Hang’s Sushi Hana. Owned and operated by the proprietor Lawrence Mok, who is also the executive chef at the adjacent I M Teppanyaki, Sushi Hana is one of the latest quality sushi bars to launch in Hong Kong, having opened just over a month ago.
The restaurant’s exterior is modest and understated, and when searching for it along the Tai Hang strip, one should look for the hanging red noren, or door curtain. Behind it is a brightly lit space, a petit room set with a three-sided sushi bar, each side featuring a sushi chef ready to serve his handmade creations. Lightly embellished with paintings of cherry blossoms and patterns of gingko leaves, is the wall of wooden fish scales, an artistic installation that also resembles ripples and sea waves that becomes the focal point of the restaurant.
The dinner menu is simple, with four sets ranging from one featuring exclusibely sushi to an omakase option—a structured set featuring sashimi, cooked dishes, and sushi. Our meal began with a starter of Hokkaido scallop, grilled slightly and topped with shrimp miso, torched broad beans and white asparagus; the tender ivory-toned stalks, just coming into season at this time of the year, are juicy with a welcoming bite, matched with the buttery broad beans. The scallops are succulent, enhanced with miso dressing with a touch of shrimps.
Compared to the sushi-only set, the omakase menus are of better value, unless you really enjoy sushi. The 3-kind sashimi makes the most of seasonal harvests, with each fish served separately. A ginger-and-scallion soy dip adds depth to the sayori, a silver-skinned lean fish, while ark-shell clam, beautifully carved out from its shell, retains its crunchy texture enhanced with a touch of kabosu orange juice and zest.
Small octopuses were braised in a dark broth, served warm as a seasonal cooked dish from the omakase menu. The tentacles were tender with sweetness from the mirin in the broth, and we enjoyed the tiny heads, containing miniature eggs resembling rice granules that bear a slightly gelatinous texture.
The main focus at the restaurant is still its nigiri sushi. The omakase menu showcases a selection, each served as they are made in front of the guest. Half of the array are staples and signatures such as sea urchin (uni) and splendid alfonsino (kinmedai) while the rest are seasonal catches.
Seasonal highlights include the Japanese cockle (torigai), a thickly cut shellfish whose flesh bears a unique crunch. Roe-bearing Hokkai prawns are deshelled and served atop lightly vinegared rice, with its shell as the topping. The crunchy roe brings a welcoming briny flavour to the sushi itself. The muscles of surf clam (kobashira) are traditional served atop rice and wrapped around with a strip of nori. Here at Sushi Hana the tender shellfish was butterflied and snugly arranged on top of the shari, offering a pure succulent richness to it.
The sushi restaurant excels in sushi classics too: squid (ika) is beautifully carved, and Hokkaido sea urchin are neatly piled atop sushi rice. The highlight of the meal, and most likely the most Instagram worthy piece, is the sardine roll, where a thick slice of fresh sardine, rice, and pickled radish are wrapped with seaweed and shiso leaf, which gave a herbaceous touch to the oily fish.
The sushi experience is rounded up with egg omelette (tamago), made with pureed shrimp. The omelette is firmer than most, but the texture was fine and smooth with just the right hint of sweetness. The omakase menu is complete with miso soup as well as seasonal fruit for dessert.
As the time of our visit Sushi Hana just acquired their liquor license and the sake menu is yet to be available. The service team, as well as the sushi chefs, however, are knowledgeable to suggest wines based on the guests’ preference and palates, as they prefer ordering sake before the meal commences. Some of their selections are also available in half-bottles, an ideal size for sampling with sushi meal for two.
Service is attentive at Sushi Hana, as sake and tea are served promptly and the service team is friendly and well-trained with additional description on the produce and harvest featured on the menu. Sushi Hana offers a proper sushi experience and is a reliable neighbourhood restaurant to satisfy those sushi cravings.
Sushi Hana, G/F 142 Tung Lo Wan Road, Tai Hang, Hong Kong; +852 2679 8038
A meal for two with sake and service: around HK$3,300
How we rate
Each of our reviewers score restaurants based on four main criteria: setting, food, service, and drinks, taking into account more than 35 different points of reference including manners of staff, usefulness of the wine list, and whether or not the restaurant makes an effort to be environmentally aware. 5/5 indicates an exceptional experience; 4-4.5/5 is excellent; 3-3.5/5 is good to very good; and 2.5/5 or lower is average to below average. Before visiting a restaurant, the reviewers will book using a pseudonym and do not make themselves known to restaurant staff, in order to experience the venue as a regular guest—if this is not possible, or if we are recognised, we will indicate this in the review.