Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hayashi Sushi & Grill

Huge imposing black doors. Long, luxurious cocktail lounge. A compact sushi bar, flanked by an open kitchen. Double dining rooms, one side devoted to the art of the hibachi, both sides a dazzle of color, texture and flow. Hayashi’s here, baby, and Newport News’ City Center at Oyster Point is its new home.
Dave and I popped by one early evening, and were immediately led to an intimate table. Our server offered each of us a warm cloth to cleanse our hands, then took our order.

Normally fans of sushi a la carte style, we were on our way to see the Kodo Drummers of Japan (highly recommended). With that in mind, we decided upon the “Special Boat for Two” ($45). The chef’s mix of assorted sashimi, nigiri, and rolls, fleshed out with soup or salad made this a no-brainer.

My house salad arrived in an elegant eye-shaped dish. Piled high with crisp greens, slivers of red cabbage, carrots, tomato and an apple, it was visually appealing. But the taste? In a word, awesome! The light sesame-based dressing was a little sweet, a little nutty and the perfect complement to the bright, fresh salad. Dave began with a classic bowl of miso soup. While I’m not usually fond of miso, this was one excellent rendition. The broth was well-balanced and warming, bobbling with bright bursts of green onion. All in all, a very nice start.

I also ordered my favorite salad, ika sansai ($8). This cold, marinated squid salad came in a petite pile, flanked by thinly sliced cucumbers. We both dug in. While the cuttlefish was fresh, we couldn’t find the spice in the advertised spicy sesame dressing. Our server checked to make sure it was okay, but I assured her we were just saving room for our ship o’ sushi, which wasn’t entirely an untruth.

The giant wooden boat, complete with netting, could barely fit across our table. We ooh-ed and ah-ed appreciatively as she managed to maneuver it in catty-corner style. The colorful array of gleaming fish exuded the fresh scent of clean ocean water, and we eagerly set chopsticks in motion.

There were two rolls, California and a spicy tuna with artful tails of tempura shrimp on each end. The first was nice and light, but the spicy shrimp and tuna lit up like a happy fish firecracker in my mouth. The sashimi was vibrant and well-represented: red fin tuna, fresh and clean; pale, fatty belly-meat of tuna, melts in your mouth like butter; raw squid decoratively cross-hatched, but with a chewy texture and mild flavor; red clam, fairly firm, subtle in taste; salmon, smooth and buttery; and octopus, a little sweet, a little chewy, a-lot-of-fun suckers.

It was a heroic amount of food that was everything sushi should be: quality ingredients, artful arrangement and very, very fresh fish.

Our waitress smilingly asked if we were interested in dessert — a choice of sorbet — but it certainly wasn’t happening that night! She brought our check and a segmented orange, which was just our speed.

I’ve been to Hayashi several times since they’ve opened, ordered takeout, and even used them for catering. Without exception, the quality of the food has been consistently fresh, flavorful and clean. One recommendation for that special night out: omakase, basically a ’chef’s choice’ style tasting menu.

You lucky online readers can check out the photos from previous nights:

Simply put, an amazing experience presented by a team that is fluent in the art of sushi.

Hayashi Sushi & Grill
11820 Merchants Walk, Suite 106, Newport News
Phone: 223-5783
Specialties: hibachi grill, sushi
Price range: appetizers: $3-$16; salads: $2.50-$14.50; hibachi grill dinners: $13.95-$29.95; Japanese entrees: $16.95-$27.95; sushi entrees: $15.95-$80.00; sushi also available per roll.
Hours: Lunch: 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. Monday-Friday; Dinner: 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 12-11 p.m. Saturday, 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday
Alcohol: beer, wine, full bar
Smoking: no
Vegetarian: yes
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Payment: cash, credit cards
Noise level: conversational
Atmosphere: romantic, upscale
Additional info: daily specials, catering, hibachi grill, sushi bar, lunch and dinner
Star rating: food 4, atmosphere 4 1/2, service 4
(out of five stars)


Blogger sher said...

Yowza!!! I love looking at those pictures. My favorite sushi restaurant does those boats and I've always wanted to order that. Now I'm in sushi lust!

11:04 AM  
Blogger Deborah Dowd said...

I have not been there but my daughter has gone and she loved it (she is a big sushi fan) and she felt the prices were very resonable. She also loved the whole experience with the hot towels! When my husband sees that boat... I have a feling we will be headed there soon!

3:40 AM  

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