Price: Very fair
(at 20th Street)
346 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10009
Last night, a friend and I were walking down 1st Avenue, being chased after by that nagging, intangible hunger that so often frequents the body when the city devilishly fishpoles its many inviting aromas out into the air. We weren't sure of what we were craving, but coming off a full day of midterms, we knew it had to be something good, something impressive and something soon. It wasn't until we happened upon an impressive Japanese marble palace taking up the corner of 20th and 1st that we realized our cravings could only be satisfied by two little S-letter lovelies: sushi and sake.
The outside patio of Hane Sushi had several tables ready for diners, so we asked the hostess if she wouldn't mind directing us that way. Sitting down in the wicker-lined chairs, the view supplied us with the many diverse aspects of the city that all, by the fortunate location of the restaurant, came together in this one spot. I faced the corner of 20th and 1st, enjoying the smaller, residential buildings in the foreground, but being privileged enough to see the masterpiece crownings of larger structures like the Empire State Building and the Metropolitan Life tower in the background. My friend faced Stuyvesant Town, relishing in the lush greenery of the village trees. If Hane had nothing else working for it, it passed on all aspects of location.
Our waiter presented us with drink and dinner menus, telling us that drinks are always 2 for 1. This tickled us tipplers and so we scanned the cocktails, sakes and wines, finally settling on the Pomegranate Martini (vodka, peach schnapps, sour mix, and POM juice) for my friend and the Mai Tai (rum, peach schnapps, sour apple, sour mix, and orange, pineapple and cranberry juice) for me (so no, we didn't get sake, but we thought about it!). Two seconds later, it seemed, our drinks arrived, mine decked out with those cutesy Asian umbrellas with speared cherries on top, and my friend's in a traditional martini glass. The Mai Tai was a sweet vat of endless fruity abysses while the Pomegranate Martini cut to the chase with the vodka and only hinted at its produce counterparts.
Along with our drinks, we ordered appetizers. I got the Soft Shell Crab, and my friend went for the Fried Crispy Calamari. But before they arrived, it started getting chilly and that gentle spring breeze turned into an I-wish-I-had-brought-my-coat draft. We asked our waitress if we could be moved inside and she kindly obliged, swooped up our drinks and led us through the restaurant's threshold. Whatever mojo the outside had working for it, the inside proved to be even more enchanting. Marble tables, marble walls and marble floors (okay, they were faux marble, but it made me feel royal nonetheless) lined the inside, an impressive aquatic mosaic hung for all to see, and the chef's station, slightly elevated, sat in the center of the restaurant, with bar seating available around it. The lights were dim, the mood was chill, and the music was especially charming with personal favorites from Moby ("In This World") and FC Kahuna ("Hayling").
Soon after our relocation, our appetizers arrived. Warmly settled in the castle's bosom, I quickly went to town on my Soft Shell Crab, my tongue pleasantly surprised at the texture union of the crispy outside with the tender cuts of meat on the inside. The crab pieces surrounded a leaf salad drizzled with some sort of mysterious sweet dressing. The edges of the plate had four dollops of a salmon-colored tartar sauce of sorts that perfectly complemented my crustacean. My friend's Fried Crispy Calamari arrived with the chef's "special sauce" (you know how those sushi joints love their "special" sauces) and proved to be quite delectable as well.
After noshing on our oceanic treasures, the waitress delivered our entrees. My dish, the Blue Crab Fantastic Roll, was an impressive eight-piece presentation topped with shredded crabmeat and green caviar. Rolled inside were avocado and eel, while splashes of a mango-y sauce decorated any empty space left on the plate. There was even a hollowed out crab shell as part of the presentation (that I ended up later breaking by accident...). From the marinated crab meat to the delicate hint of eel and fruity sauce, the dish was incredible, unforgettable and the peak of the many pleasures Hane was throwing my way. My friend's roll, the Rainbow Dragon Roll, was also quite a work of art. The roll cuts were snaked in a wavy formation, the last piece resembling a dragon posterior with a battered tempura shrimp tail poking out. The crispy shrimp lined the entire roll's inside while generous slabs of eel and avocado governed the top.
While the blood rushed to our stomachs to digest the heaven we had just devoured, we ordered another round of drinks and sat, blissfully, enjoying the atmosphere, recalling the many high points of our meals. The check came and surprised us both with an incredibly reasonable $70. And how can you complain when you order four drinks and only pay for two? We paid and sat for another half an hour, unbothered and unhurried by any of the staff. Speaking of the wait staff - our table was so completely maintained by several different friendly people that never was my glass empty or a need ignored. It was all so magical!
Whether you want to sit outside and enjoy the city's landscapes, or venture inside to vibe off their lounge-like ambiance, Hane will bewitch your ‘buds, nourish your needs and loosen up that liver (2 for 1, lushes, 2 for 1!), and, more importantly, they won't wage an all-out war on your wallet. Hane aims to please, so get that target on your back and let their culinary cupids have their way with you.