The following will usually ensue when you tell people about Hanako: your attentive audience will gape at you, aghast, and splutter, “You paid that much for sushi?! Are you outta your mind?” To which you will nod in earnest and reply “Ya…but it was so darn worth it,” all the while reminiscing about the wild sockeye salmon sashimi and spicy scallop roll you devoured not too long ago.
I kid you not.
I went to Hanako with Dad last week for a well deserved meal after a day-long hike in Whistler. The restaurant is fairly small – you can probably squeeze 15 to 20 guests in if the sushi bar seats are included – with a cozy, unassuming interior.
We started off with a beautiful plate of Assorted Sashimi ($18): tuna, salmon, tako, and yellowfish. Two words: EPICLY FRESH.
Next up were nigiris and rolls to satisfy my rice addiction. For nigiris, we ordered Toro ($2.50), Salmon ($1.95), Tuna ($1.95), Tobiko ($1.95), and Unagi ($3.50). Our lovely waitress made a boo-boo and gave us a Chopped Scallop ($2.50) nigiri instead of roll, but she fixed the mix-up when we brought it to her attention.
The rice to topping ratio was spot on, but wasabi haters beware – the chef serves nigiris with the green condiment already neatly tucked in between the fish and rice. Notable mentions include the toro, unagi, and scallop – the former two for their delicate, melt-in-your-mouth goodness, and the latter for its sweetness.
In addition to a Chopped Scallop Roll ($4.95), we also got the house special Hanako Roll ($6.95), which consisted of salmon, tuna, tobiko, unagi, tobiko, and a mildly spicy sauce that somehow made the whole combination work. A miracle.
Then because Dad insisted, we ordered a Nabeyaki Udon ($10.95) to share. Overall, it was well done – light and crisp shrimp tempuras, chewy noodles, nice flavours from the shiitake mushrooms and clams – but I thought the broth was just a tad salty.
The udon sent me slipping into a food coma. However, one must never forgo dessert, especially when ice cream is involved. So I persevered. Dad chose the seasonal Red Bean ($3.95) flavour, which had pieces of red bean inside. Unfortunately the beans were rather hard. My Black Sesame ($3.95) was definitely the winner. Hah.
There appears to be only two chefs, with one handling all the cold dishes and one all the warm, so don’t expect the food to come in rapid-fire succession like AYCE joints. As mentioned in the beginning, Hanako can be expensive. Including tax, the total for two came to $80. Crazy? Ya, but the quality and attentive service definitely made up for the price.