Sushi Hana? I don’t wanna

Is there such thing as a “disappointment roll?”

By Paula Johnson

Photo: The Tuna Tataki at Sushi Hana

Sometimes you have a restaurant experience that almost seems surreal in its blundering awfulness. You leave, scratching your head and asking yourself, “Did that just really happen?” Before further elucidation, I’ll present the positive notes which bookended my recent visit to Sushi Hana in Washington Township. Upon entering the bright contemporary space, PIP (Palate In Progress) and I were greeted with a hearty “Hello! Welcome!” from the sushi chef and the host. A good start, I thought. Unfortunately, the next positive part of my visit was my trip to the restroom before departing. It was exceptionally clean.

Wait for it

We were instructed to sit anywhere in the casual dining space, about half filled with patrons. Despite the immediate acknowledgment, there was a long uncomfortable wait for menus, which was puzzling. There seemed to be three servers including the host, and all tables were easily in view. After the lag, menus were presented by a pleasant but somewhat harried host/server.

PIP and I debated the merits of the Japanese versus Korean menu options available, and agreed to sample both for our entrees. To start I zeroed in on Shumai and Gyoza appetizers, both $3.95, while PIP chose Tuna Tataki ($9.95). Our waiter informed me they were out of the Pork Shumai but suggested Shrimp ($4.50) instead. Both turned out to be disappointing. The Gyoza, described as pan fried pork and vegetable dumplings, were actually deep-fried, tough and chewy. The Shumai skins were mushy, the filling bland and tasteless.

PIP’s Tuna Tataki, seared rare tuna with a ponzu sauce, was worse. The tuna itself was watery and devoid of flavor. The fish’s grilled surface had an unpleasant grittiness to it, and an odd almost chemical aftertaste. We left more than half the portion on the plate.

After another long wait, our salads arrived with the explanation that the kitchen had run out of ginger dressing and had to make more. My guess is they just added water to what they had, considering the taste and consistency of the dressing on these salads. The miso soup could best be described as anemic. After these dishes I was not holding out much hope for our entrees, the Korean Kal Bi ($17.95) and PIP’s Hana Special ($24.95).

Burnt offerings

My remaining hopes were dashed with the arrival of the Kal Bi. These barbecued grilled beef short ribs are a staple on most Korean menus. Sushi Hana’s were so black and charred they were practically inedible. I found myself longing for the glass of wine I had ordered to wash them down, but sadly it never arrived.

PIP wasn’t faring much better with the Hana Special, a combination of five pieces of sushi, shrimp and vegetable tempura and chicken teriyaki. The tempura batter lacked the crunch and fluffiness it should have had, and was mostly greasy. The chicken teriyaki was standard, heavily sauced and unremarkable.

Taste not, want not

As to the sushi, I left it to PIP. The rest of the experience didn’t fill me with any confidence it would be enjoyable. Of the five pieces presented, PIP soldiered through four, commenting, “Five pieces of this is four too many.”

Our server never once checked back to see if we needed anything or to clear our plates. While we were waiting (again, a long time) after requesting our check, we overheard him at a neighboring table. Apologizing for their wait, he said they were out of soup and the kitchen had to make more – the same story we’d been given with our salads. Was this to cover his own ineptitude, or was Sushi Hana’s kitchen that poorly managed? I’d wager a combination of both.

The dishes Sushi Hana presented seemed sort of like faded Xerox copies of the foods they were supposed to be. Poorly prepared, bland in taste, unpleasant in texture, and not inexpensive at $76.74 plus tip. Sayonara, Sushi Hana. I’ll be seeking sushi elsewhere.

Sushi Hana is located at 1501 Lyons Rd. in Washington Township. For more information, please visit sushihanadayton.com or call 937.434.2070.

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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