I love sushi more than is probably healthy, and eat it more than is probably advisable. I went through a phase in high school when I ate it for every meal – not a great idea. It seems counterintuitive, but my mild obsession with sushi has made me a very non-picky sushi eater: I can’t afford to eat the good stuff as frequently as I crave it, so I settle for the cheap stuff – a quick fix. So it’s a real treat when I have good quality sushi. Nothing makes me happier.
Though there are seven locations in Manhattan, I had never been to Haru before last week. The original location — which offers a free order of edamame per table to Columbia affiliates through CUarts’ restaurant program — is located on Amsterdam Avenue at 81st Street. It was this location to which I arrived around 6pm last Wednesday, excited and hungry. Haru is known for its unique and distinctive décor, and the Amsterdam Avenue location is no exception. The restaurant is cozy, one room with several small tables around the perimeter and a few more in the center of the room. A handful of chairs lines the sushi bar. The interior is mostly wood, with the back wall covered in a lovely, patterned wallpaper. The hanging lights provide enough gentle light to see one’s company and food, but without being too bright or too plentiful.
When I arrived at Haru, I was seated at a table along the back wall, facing the large front windows that look onto the street. I found the restaurant strangely comfortable, relaxing without being dull, serene without feeling pretentious. The servers were attentive and eager – once one server took my appetizer order, another promptly arrived to do the same. For my starter, I ordered the tuna tataki, sliced tuna lightly seared and served with a side of avocado salad, and recommended by the waiter. Because I typically eat inexpensive, low quality sushi, I’ve had bad experiences with tuna (among other things), but I figured the quality of the fish would be far superior at Haru. I wasn’t disappointed. The tuna was delicious, perfectly seared, rare on the inside, seasoned around the edges. The avocado was ripe and flavorful, the mixed greens fresh and crisp. The sesame dressing on the salad was perfect, tangy and tasty and not too much of it.
For my main course, I again opted to be adventurous (comparatively speaking), and try something I don’t typically eat at lesser restaurants: raw fish other than salmon. I ordered the sushi and roll combo, a combination of six pieces of sushi – two each of salmon, tuna, and yellowtail – and a roll of your choice, either tuna avocado or California. I chose the California roll, as I was concerned I might be overdoing it with the tuna. California rolls are never my favorite, and while Haru’s was fine, it left me wishing there had been more than two roll options. The sushi, however, was delicious. The fish was fresh and not at all fishy-tasting, and was sliced thickly and generously. It was the first time I’ve eaten raw tuna and really loved it.
In the end, my Haru experience was a good one, a reminder that good sushi exists and is worth waiting for. The dishes were reasonably priced (all told, my dinner came to around $40), the service was good, and I left full and happy.
Emily Mousseau ’10GS