The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dinner at Hibino

Friday night, I met up with the CLC for an early dinner at Hibino, a newly opened Japanese spot in Cobble Hill. The restaurant is just a block or so away from Floyd, which is great, because it now gives us a new option dinner when we have Monday night bocce.

I had first read about Hibino in one of the elevators at work. All are equipped with these little screens that broadcast something called "The Captivate Network." Most of the time they just summarize USA Today stories and offer up factoids and celebrity birthdays, but the other week, I briefly caught a blurb about Hibino. Whatever I must have read completely captivated me, so anyone who advertises on these things should note that it's totally effective! So for the past month or so, I've been checking their blog on a daily basis to read about the daily obanzai specials and re-reading the menus over and over, changing my mind each time about what I would order on my firt visit there.

Hibino is totally cute, if you couldn't already tell from their blog. The owners have done well by not trying to cram in tables so diners eat elbow to elbow. The big windows and wood tones give the space a nice open feel that's modern but not stoic at all. Their logo is stamped onto the chopsticks and it takes on various situational mutations which I'm not skilled enough to explain in words and you'll just have to check out for yourself. Though we had a choice tables, we opted to sit at the bar, where we'd have an up-close look at the sights and smells. Not to be picky but on the counter to my right was some sort of water filter/compressor looking thingy which I wish someone would have moved. It just felt weird to have this metal container with a gooseneck plastic hose sticking out in my presence. It was really the only negative of the meal, and I'm hesitant to even call it a negative, because my experience wasn't hindered at all. But it's just one of those things.

To begin with, the CLC and I shared a Kyoto style futomaki. Normally, I'm not the biggest fan of futomaki or its Korean cousin kim bop. I find the ingredients overly sweet most of the time and when I was younger and my family would go on picnics, I remember kim bops (which transport nicely and thus a staple of Korean outings) always giving me a headache. This one was awesome - a combination of tuna, shrimp, ell, avocado, cucumber tamago and tobiko. A small pool of lemon mayo was served in the center and I alternated dips into that and soy sauce. For entrees, Beth went with the house sashimi plate and I opted for the beef kakuni (braised short ribs) teishoku style (meaning a meal set of entree, rice, miso soup and a mini obanzai, or Japanese tapas). The mini obanzi turned out to be chef's choice and I was really hoping he'd be in the mood to serve me the fried baby octopus I spied on the daily specials chalkboard. Alas, my short ribs were paired with the spicey gyu-sunji (beef tendon, served wtih daizu soy beans and carrots). The non beef part of the dish was ground soy beans mixed with carrots, shitake mushrooms and hijiki. Tasty, but nothing I would go out of my way to order again. The beef kakuni was a nice portion of three boneless ribs with a big hunk of daikon. Only the light soy broth was left at the end and though Beth implored me to drink it, I was too full to be tempted. I liked that all the fish plates were served with a mound of blanched green vegetables, all carelly arranged by one of the sous-chefs. There was a duo of snow peas, a halved okra and asparagus nuggets placed atop broccoli rabe. I had an Orion, an Okinawan beer I love if only for it's "The Beer of Beers" slogan, to accompany my meal.

I'm looking forward to getting back to Hibino so I can try their homemade tofu, which is served in the most adorable glass bottle with the logo etched on the side, and the panko crusted eel roll, which we saw being plated up for another table and made my eyes open real wide.

Photo stolen from Hibino's Flickr.

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Blogger China-Latina Chowhound said...

The asparagus and broccoli rabe were lovely and pleasant surprises.

I definitely want to go back and eat the panko crusted eel roll. It looked divine.

June 18, 2007 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Chooky said...

i agree. the futomaki was very good (not something i normally eat either). i really thought the kakuni was perfection. just a wonderful dish. most of the sushi was blah. uni is a litmus test for me at sushi plaches and it was not that fresh. the homemade tofu with dashi is also a nice treat although the agedashi version of it was so so.

June 24, 2007 4:48 PM  
Blogger youthlarge said...

hi chooky. that's a bummer about the sushi. i think the CLC was pretty happy with her sashimi plate. what did you eat aside from the uni? i'm not much of an uni fan, though i'll eat it if it comes straight from the shell.

June 25, 2007 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Chooky said...

I'm trying to think what sushi I had. Futomaki, uni, an oshisushi of grilled hamachi (sounded wonderful but it was awful), tobiko (nothing special), egg tomago (okay), ikura (good), spicy tuna temaki (would have been great if they mixed the very spicy mayo with the tuna; they were seperate).

Overall it was hit or miss.

I would go back. I am actually kind of anxious to try the yellow tail jalapeno roll because it sounds similar to a great dish at Nobu.

June 26, 2007 8:40 AM  
Blogger youthlarge said...

Went there last night for a quick dinner at the bar. Nearly ordered the yellow tail jalapeno roll, which is a combo I'm a fan of, but decided against sushi and went with a trio of small plates.

Tried the homemade tofu (warm), which I really enjoyed. It came with a small container of super salty dashi. Also had the Ebi Furai Nagoya-Style - panko-fried shrimp served with red miso sauce, which was super salty. My third dish was the Ingen Chirimen-Sansho Ae (steamed string beans with baby white fish and sansho peppers). Tasty but I really overdid the salt in general. It doesn't help matters that I had a bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast this morning!

June 26, 2007 10:32 AM  

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