Healthy, great-tasting food at reasonable prices is Hana Sushi’s motto. This restaurant is also a come-back kid. It has been on the Plaza at 29 North Main Street (next to Ashland Mountain Supply) for four years, but was extensively damaged in the Plaza fire on March 19, 2012. They had to close for five months, reopening on August 30, missing the busy spring-summer season. Thanks to good insurance coverage and the owners, Bill and Yoonjae Barchet, firm commitment to their staff, employees were paid when the restaurant was shut down, and most are still happily serving and preparing the authentic Korean, Hawaiian, and Japanese food that keeps customers coming back. Bill lived sixteen years in Hawaii where he learned to love the islands’ popular cuisine like Bento dishes, sushi, tempuras, Hawaiian specialties, and authentic Korean dishes. His wife taught English at Dankook University in Seoul, Korea and came to Ashland to direct the Institute of Asian Studies and Culture in the early nineties. Bill has his degree in architecture, so designing baffles into the new ceiling, upgrading the interior, and putting in a first-rate sound system and a sushi bar area with a bamboo canopy were his projects to supervise once the damaged roof, furnishings and equipment were removed.
We arrived on a balmy evening in late September, so we chose to enjoy their outdoor patio seating near the creek. The menu is quite extensive. We asked Bill and our gracious wait person, Ben, for their suggestions. We began with Garlic Edamame, gently sautéed with soy sauce and garlic, a glass of German Riesling Kabinett for Dorothy and lemonade for me, and a very tasty Hawaiian Poki salad, with raw ahi tuna, sesame oil, mixed spring greens and onion. I loved the texture and taste of the fresh tuna, and had some left over, as Dorothy didn’t care for the raw fish. Yoonjae makes the side dish of Kimchee-pickled Napa cabbage, red pepper, garlic, and ginger in a fish sauce, fermented in authentic Korean style, a traditional dish that aids digestion; next time I intend to give it a try!
We were eager to sample two of their specialty sushi roll combinations, each with eight pieces. I loved the Caterpillar Roll with Crabmeat, Cucumber, Unagi (eel), and Avocado on top. Dorothy ordered the Dynamite Roll with shrimp, scallops, tobiko and a spicy saucy with scallions and fish eggs on top of a California Roll. Both were superb to our taste buds, freshly prepared, colorful, and artfully presented. Other popular sushi rolls are made with a tempura batter, like the Veggie Roll with Sweet Potato, Onion, and Asparagus, or the Crunchy Roll with Tempura Shrimp, Crabmeat, Cucumber, and Avocado dipped in a batter of panko bread crumbs. These sushi rolls range in price from $4 to $14. They would make a hearty lunch or snack, too.
Our entrée was the Bul-Go-Gi, marinated thin sliced beef with onions, green onions and mushrooms with wild rice and a mixed spring greens salad that come with most entrees. It was filling, delicious, and very tender too. There are seven grilled dishes with meat or tofu, four Bento dishes, and four Fish dishes that come with miso soup, ranging from mild to one with a Korean Pepper Sauce on the side. When I come in the wintertime, I’ll try Soon Doo Boo, a Korean spicy Tofu Soup with Seafood, veggies, rice, and egg. There are ample choices for folks who need gluten-free dishes. Most of the seafood comes from the West coast, and some is shipped from Hawaii. As we finished our meal darkness came quickly, so we enjoyed the atmosphere inside. It was warm, friendly, and several customers were enjoying “people-watching” by sitting at the bar in front of the window facing the street. This can be especially entertaining on holidays like Halloween!
Dorothy thoroughly enjoyed her German Riesling white wine, and Hana Sushi serves a variety of sake, draft and bottled beers (including local ones), and red and white wines. We were too full to order dessert, but they offer a variety of ice creams, from green tea to mango. There are often specials not on the menu on Friday and Saturday nights. You may call to inquire at (541) 201-8898. Current hours are 11:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, with Friday and Saturday being open until midnight. For now they are closed on Mondays.
In closing I encourage you to visit the brightest hallways and restrooms on the Plaza, with an incredible poster of famous quotations to read on the inside of the toilet stalls. You can buy a copy of this poster to take home! The food is excellent, the service very friendly and helpful. This is a great place to take visitors as well as a treat for those of us who live in Ashland. I hope you have as wonderful an experience at this special restaurant as we did, and I look forward to trying new entrees and sashimi next time, a great place for the adventuresome palate!