521 Central Ave NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Wow, first of all I want to say thank you for all your thoughts, support, and positive comments about my last post, “One Year.” It’s truly inspiring to see my family, my friends, and my friend’s friends read my personal tribute to my mom and how much she inspires me to this day as evident by this blog. Thank you so much for joining me on this culinary journey in honor of her.
Speaking of culinary journeys, I am truly privileged that my food adventures started in Southern California. After all, I can pick and choose which of the several dozen Dim Sum parlors I want to eat at in the San Gabriel Valley on any given day. If I don’t want to eat beef pho, I can go a few blocks down Bolsa or Brookhurst in Westminster, CA, to eat a delicious bowl of chicken pho or pick up a banh mi sandwich. Likewise in San Diego I can choose between sushi, ramen, teppan, and other types of Japanese restaurant at my leisure. In just one relatively small strip mall in Irvine I can choose between five shops that serve their variations of Taiwanese beef noodle soup.
Albuquerque, like most of America, is different. There’s only one place that serves authentic dim sum (sorry, Amerasia doesn’t count) and one place that does Taiwanese food. Given the relative lack of Asian people in the city, aside from the sizable Hoa (Vietnamese from China) population, it’s natural that some restaurants serving Asian food would combine different cuisines to offer people a chance to try different foods without needing to go to larger cities like Phoenix or Denver.
One such restaurant is Sushi Hana, which predominantly serves sushi and other Japanese items, but also sells a few Korean dishes too. Since that intrigued me a little bit, I decided to try a bulgogi bento box and an order of salmon nigiri. This might not be the most authentic thing on the menu, but it also killed two birds with one stone in terms of seeing at least how one restaurant tries to navigate the foods of Korea and Japan together.
The bulgogi actually turned out well. It was tastefully marinated without being overpowered by the sauce. The beef was cooked nicely too. The bento box also included a small portion of seaweed salad (decent), California roll (filled with imitation crab meat with some type of creamy sauce that tasted just off, but at least the avocados were good!), tempura (decently battered), and an egg roll (nothing special). There was also miso soup with mushrooms as well, which I did like. As for the nigiri, the salmon was reasonably fresh for a non-coastal city and the rice was cooked well, however they didn’t quite come together seamlessly and could have used a dab of wasabi.
The service was pretty good though with attentive, but not overly pushy, waitstaff that made sure I was treated well. All in all it was a nice experience, with some flaws balanced by other highlights. Sushi Hana certainly wouldn’t compare to, say, Sushi Ota in San Diego, but it does a good job in attempting to execute quality Japanese and Korean food. It’s not easy trying to balance two food traditions, as it would be similar to a Mexican restaurant with Salvadorean items or a French restaurant with Spanish items. However, in many places it is the reality and you just have the admire the chefs who do a good job.