ROLL OUT

Not far from the intersection of Beach and Kernan boulevards sits Hana Yori Sushi & Grill Japanese Restaurant, spacious and inviting, featuring two well-lit rooms with plenty of seating. On our recent visit, the young server was friendly and knowledgeable, often checking in to ensure we were satisfied with our selections, and giving us an overview of the menu and restaurant, which recently expanded.

Newcomers are given a small wooden block, about the size of an index card, and a black Sharpie marker. Decorate at your leisure – name and date, a beloved sports team, or that thing you like to draw – but rest assured, your tile will end up somewhere on Hani Yori’s walls, a customer-created ambience that’s fun to peruse.

Online reviews of the lava fries ($6.99) – a stack of fries with spicy krab salad and thinly diced scallions on top – are overwhelmingly positive. So we ordered them. They ended up being our least favorite item. The fries are thick, seemingly once frozen, and the topping works better with seaweed and rice than potatoes. Some things are best kept separate, like church and state (and fries and sushi), right?

However, the bright green seaweed salad ($4.50) and deep-fried agedashi tofu ($3.99) were both solid starter choices.

And as for the sushi, we found Hana Yori’s offerings tasty, made even better by the restaurant’s reasonable prices. I selected three pieces of nigiri – spicy scallop ($2.50), flying fish egg ($1.50) and salmon roe ($4.50 for 2), and two rolls. My crispy Philly roll ($5.99) was an interesting take on the krab-and-cream-cheese Philly; panko breaded, then deep fried. (Does Paula Deen like sushi? She’d love this.) The standout was the Russian Silk ($7.99) with tuna, yellow tail, avocado inside the roll and thinly sliced krab, fish eggs, scallions on top with drizzles of both spicy mayo and sweet eel sauce on the plate. Thumbs up, all around. There’s even a slot on the sushi menu to create your own roll.

We also ordered hibachi filet mignon and chicken ($16.99) combination meal, a $3 increase over just steak. It arrived with clear soup, salad with ginger dressing, a generous mound of fried rice (though you can request white rice) studded with egg and diced carrots, broccoli and zucchini and a side of homemade shrimp sauce. Our medium-rare filet was flavorful, and we salvaged enough for lunch the next day.

About EU Jacksonville

october, 2021

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