This article first appeared on CTBites.
Hana Tokyo opened in Fairfield’s Brick Walk Plaza just a few weeks ago, and locals seem to be embracing the new restaurant with open arms. Owner Alan Wu recently relocated from Alexandria, Virginia to be closer to his family. Born and raised in China, he came to the US in his mid-20s and landed in New York City where he immersed himself in the world of gourmet sushi, learning everything possible about the trade. In 2002 he opened the original Hana Tokyo and after 13 successful years as the busiest Japanese restaurant in town, Wu and his restaurant now come to us. Wu prides himself on using only the freshest available ingredients, making everything in-house, and offering unparalleled service.
The new restaurant (which many will recognize as the former Tomba) has a contemporary, earthy feel. As one enters the restaurant, a large mural of a Japanese woman in a kimono, painted by renowned local artist, Suzanne Bellehumeur, greets you as you enter the facility and a small sushi bar constructed from reclaimed wood is to the right. Contemporary and traditional Japanese décor are combined to give the space a look that is modern yet traditional. The main dining area has 8 hibachi tables, a sushi bar, a lounge, plus 20 outside seats.
Wu brings his proven successes to Fairfield along with a highly trained team of sushi masters, hibachi chefs, servers and bar tenders. Head chef Michael Lin, formerly of Tengda Asian Bistro in Greenwich, brings his mastery of hand crafted sushi rolls and appetizers, utilizing only the freshest of ingredients, to create signature dishes that include an inspired Pizza Sandwich filled with spicy tuna, avocado, tamango, masago, crab and lobster salad topped with eel and wasabi sauces. Other creative inspirations include Blackened Tuna Taco with a spicy wasabi aioli wonton, Octopus Salad with Ponzu soy and Toro Tartar with quail egg. Chef Lin originally hails from the same hometown in China as Alan Wu. Over the years he has learned how to create dishes that surpass the expectations of the local area’s palate. His passion is to blend traditional Japanese ingredients with unique flavors in new and innovative ways.
I stopped by one day last week and sampled some of the items from the appetizer and sushi menus as well as experience the hibachi. Our first stop was the bar where we sampled dumplings, spicy rock shrimp, shrimp dumplings and shrimp and vegetable tempura. We moved on to the sushi, and I highly recommend The Sushi and Sashimi Combination which was so vibrant, colorful and fresh – everyone should try just one piece without any sauce to fully appreciate the freshness. The Sushi Dynamite and Sushi Napoleon were very good but my favorites of the specialty rolls were the Fancy Rainbow Roll, a beautiful combination of tuna, salmon, yellowtail avocado and scallion – it was as beautiful to look at as it was to eat - and the Megan Roll, a unique roll with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and avocado all neatly wrapped together in paper thin cucumber slices with a vinegar sauce. These rolls were incredibly light and refreshing. Because these rolls contain no rice, they are perfect for those preferring to go a carb-free or Paleo route.
Next we moved to the hibachi menu where we indulged in filet mignon, shrimp, lobster and chicken. I’ll be honest and say that I’m not much of a hibachi fan. I tend to find it a bit heavy, oily and oftentimes bland – I go merely for my children who do love it, for it’s certainly an entertaining way to eat. While my expectations were low (despite the great sushi I previously sampled) I was very pleasantly surprised. Our experience started, as it almost always does, with a fancy fire show and an entertaining display of knife juggling wizardry. From there our chef fried the obligatory egg and fried rice. Only this was not like all the other fried rice; this fried rice had texture…an almost nutty-like texture, and a great deal of flavor. It was not overly greasy. And as simple as fried really rice is – this was really good.
Next to arrive was the fillet mignon. We opted to have ours rare. It was perfectly pink on the inside, incredibly flavorful, tender and juicy, and seemed almost to melt in our mouths. The shrimp, lobster and the chicken were excellent. I did notice one thing as I watched our chef. He seasoned everything thoroughly - as opposed to simply drizzling some soy sauce haphazardly over the food as I’ve seen at other hibachi restaurants…our chef added a couple of different sauces, a little bit of salt and a considerable amount of garlic. The garlic, not at all overpowering, brought the taste to the next level and made this hibachi meal stand out from the rest. If you’re not completely stuffed to the gills, I recommend trying their ice cream – choose from ginger, mango, coconut, green tea, or red bean. Better yet, get a scoop of each. We certainly had fun sampling them all and trying to figure out which was which.
1275 Post Rd, Fairfield, CT 06824
This article first appeared on CTBites.