By Dane Feldman
Photos by Dane Feldman.
After thinking, rather stupidly, that I could get into Sushi Yasaka on a thunderstorm-heavy Thursday night without a reservation and failing miserably, I then headed for Haru Amsterdam. The funny part about Haru is that I’d heard time and time again that it’s a good spot. I’ve passed the restaurant countless times as it has several locations around the city, yet I managed not to step inside one until last week.
There are a handful of locations in New York and even one in Boston, but this review focuses on the Haru on Amsterdam Ave in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. As it turns out, this location is the original and it first opened its doors nearly 20 years ago. It is “not only one of the longest standing establishments” on the Upper West Side’s famed “’restaurant row,’” but Haru also claims to be “one of the pioneers of Japanese cuisine in New York.”
That’s a lot of jargon to handle all at once when you’re wet, hungry, and feeling just a hint too disappointed by Yasaka’s bustling weeknight crowd.
But once my party was seated, I settled in and focused on Haru.
Now, ordinarily, I’d probably go for some special rolls, but no matter how hard I tried, I still had Yasaka on my mind. So, I went for a few simpler items instead.
To start, I had miso soup (some of the best ever, might I add) and then my dining companion and I ordered the tekka don to share. Beautifully fresh tuna came on a bed of rice with shredded carrots and radish. The tuna was delicious and I would certainly order this again.
Next, we shared an eel avocado roll (one of my favorite regular rolls), a salmon hand roll, and a rock shrimp and avocado roll. The rock shrimp avocado roll was great, though it’s not hard to please me anywhere rock shrimp is involved. I was impressed enough that the menu even included rock shrimp in a roll. That’s something I’ve not seen before.
Haru serves sake, beer, and wine. Their menu includes a happy hour special wherein many of the items range from $4-8. This actually also includes some food items, so it’s well worth taking a trip to Haru between 5-7pm on weekdays.
I didn’t go for happy hour, but I certainly should have (and likely will next time).
One thing is for sure about Haru and that’s the fact that it elicits a true old-New York sushi restaurant vibe. However much sense that may or may not make, it’s what I felt from the moment I first stepped in to the moment I left. It’s cozy inside and most of the patrons appear like regulars and locals.
On top of that, the service is fantastic: attentive, kind, knowledgeable, and quick.
All in all, my experience at Haru made it clear why this one restaurant has expanded into a well known, long lasting chain here in a city filled with plenty of other great sushi restaurants.