By Clare Myers
For those of us who are extraordinarily lazy when it comes to cooking, leaving out the meat on Fridays during Lent is not such a big deal. It is, after all, one less step. But for many, abstaining from eating meat is a much harder sacrifice. A friend of mine used to spend the last hour of the day on Fridays counting down the minutes to midnight, when he and several other guys would pile into a car and order massive quantities of McDonald’s burgers and nuggets.
If that does not sound appetizing, there are other ways to get through meatless Fridays without collapsing of hunger. Relatively recently, I overcame my dislike of fishy foods and ventured into the world of sushi. For the average college student, sushi is generally not an everyday meal, and quality sushi on an undergrad budget is a rare find. Luckily, Irving has a wealth of ethnic restaurants that are under-the-radar places, often set back from the road in tiny strip malls.
Having found a few of these – to my delight – I was excited to discover another. Some friends and I made the quick trip from campus to Hanasho Japanese Restaurant on Belt Line Road. Yelp reviews promised a solid hole in the wall, but to my surprise, Hanasho fell somewhat short of expectations.
Having arrived fairly late in the evening, we were the only customers there in the small, dimly-lit restaurant. The waitress, who was quietly efficient throughout the meal, gave us time to page through Hanasho’s very extensive menu. Those of us limited by our temporary vegetarianism had fewer options, but even then it took me a while to decide. I started off with a bowl of miso soup ($1.75) and settled on a spicy salmon roll ($5.25) and a side of rice ($1.75). Several of my friends chose bento boxes, which came with an impressive amount of food: a bowl of soup, a salad, dumplings, rice, a few pieces of sushi, and a small entrée. Prices ranged from $10.50 for a California Roll and Chicken Teriyaki box to $26 for a Sashimi, California Roll, Tempura & Chicken Teriyaki box. Several people who ordered the boxes could not finish them.
Unfortunately, it seemed that quantity took precedence over quality. It was not that any of the food was bad. It was decent, but it was not much to rave about. My spicy salmon roll lacked zest, and the general feedback around the table was similar. It was rather disappointing to me. Hanasho has all the makings of a hidden gem: it truly is hidden, appears authentic and has an army of loyal patrons. The service is good, the portions are generous and the prices very low. Perhaps we made the wrong choices in ordering. However, I think I will be sticking to other tried-and-true sushi restaurants for the next few meatless Fridays.