Depending on your levels of puritanism regarding Japanese food, the California sushi roll is either a joyously colourful example of fusion gastronomy – celebrating a Japanese classic with a dash of west-coast irreverence – or a grave and misguided culinary offence.
Those in the latter camp would do well to head down to Hana, Hatsune
’s sister restaurant in the recently opened vortex of Beijing dining that is the China World Mall. Situated on the seventh floor, it naturally has spectacular views of the adjacent CCTV building, but more importantly it has stunning plates of Californian sushi rolls, too. These rolls may not change the puritan’s mind, but they’ll certainly show her a damn good time.
The G roll (92RMB) is a gaudy tube of soft shell crab and avocado packaged in fat, vinegary rice and seaweed, topped with a sliver of unagi (freshwater eel) and tumbling piles of neon orange fish roe. Drizzled atop and around is a thick wasabi mayo, which is actually more authentic than the austere stereotype of Japanese food would have you believe, and which brings together the huge and inelegant mouthful of sushi you’ve just chowed down in a very non-delicate fashion.
Also excellent and slightly more manageable bite-wise is the Dream Team roll (85RMB), which consists of shrimp tempura, adding a non-conventional crunch to your sushi, and some rather surprising spicy salmon. Because this is Beijing, there’s also a foie gras roll (appropriately named ‘the Monaco’), although at only 78RMB it’s actually one of the cheaper options.
On the more traditional side of things, the simple dishes here also pack a punch. Asparagus rarely warrants comment, but the asparagus butteryaki (steamed stems with a butter sauce – 65RMB) was close to perfect, and the Akami Bluefin tuna sashimi (185RMB) was closer still.
One downside to our meal was that they weren’t serving any of the cocktails on the menu and had run out of all but a couple of bottled beers: the service was a bit more chaotic than you’d hope for at this price point. Also, like many recent openings, the restaurant is in a shopping mall, but the sushi is good enough and messy enough to make it worth the trip.
By Amy Hawkins