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Monday, February 21, 2011

Haru Sushi and Roll Cafe: Just the Uni and Butterfish

I know I've often used uni (sea urchin) as a leading image but I can't help it if they're the most photogenic and yummy ones. Haru Sushi and Roll Cafe was no exception. It's somewhat hidden (I won't call it a gem and you'll find out why shortly), located in the no-man's land area on San Vicente between Wilshire and 3rd, just next to the not-so-good Spanish place, La Paella (avoid).

Haru is decent value but the sushi didn't exactly made me want to return. We had the standards, including albacore tuna, salmon, hamachi (yellowtail), toro (fatty tuna), red snapper and uni. Some unusual picks we had were butterfish sushi and crispy spicy tuna rolls.

None of the sushi was remarkable, except for the uni, as mentioned earlier, and the butterfish, which was pretty good, soft like buttah. That butterfish sushi (left) alone made trying this place worthwhile. I haven't seen many sushi joints carry this one, so it was a treat.

I would say my gauge for a sushi place is its toro, hands down my favorite kind of sushi. The excellent quality ones I've had were darker red in tone, almost like red meat, and tasted as meaty as well, ultimately melting in my mouth.

Unfortunately, while serviceable, this toro wasn't nearly as meaty and delicious as the one served at my perennial favorite, Hiko (and Sushi Zo: honorable mention although sushi chef isn't as nice as Shinji-san at Hiko). I also don't know about the cuts as shown in the toro at right. I understand the need to do that for, say, scallop or shrimp but not regular fish. I think it distracts.

I also wasn't crazy about the ponzu sauce happy chef, who seemed to drizzle every other sushi with the citrusy sauce and top them with chopped green onions. I like it sometimes, but not all the time.

Ironically, when the sushi could have used something, it came out bare. Like the scallop, for instance. Unless it's super fresh, I do like a bit of rock salt on top. This one would have benefited from this touch of saltiness but came solo. Still good, but could have been excellent.

Now for the kicker: the utterly reproachable crispy spicy tuna rolls. I'm immediately skeptical of anything that sounds gimmicky or catering to God knows what, like these crispy spicy tuna rolls.

We ordered them after Yelpers raved about them. I guess we never learn our lesson. They weren't good. Sauce was too sweet, quality of the tuna wasn't good (felt like spice tried to make up for a lack of freshness or natural tuna flavor) and the "crispy rice" wasn't really crispy. Ah, we'll know better to avoid these in the future. Remember Yatai?

Having said that, the service was good and prices were fine. Still, given the choices, I don't think I'd return. Well, maybe for the buttahfish...

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