Since 1976 Hatsuhana has boasted two locations in New York City where they combine incredible freshness with great service and a pleasant atmosphere. My first time at Hatsuhana’s East 48th Street location was overall a wonderful experience for these reasons.

The food
Full disclosure, I came to Hatsuhana with two friends for one thing and one thing only: the Box of Dreams. Hatsuhana’s Box of Dreams is a $42 meal consisting of nine boxes of remarkably fresh fish. All three of us ordered our own and proceeded to marvel at the beauty that is the perfectly presented, insanely fresh Box of Dreams.

The box’s nine compartments included salmon, fatty salmon, tuna, fatty tuna, eel, yellowtail, red snapper, tobiko, and shrimp with tamago. Each box also includes rice and some come with mint or cucumber. The box itself is gorgeous in presentation and is a popular shot on Instagram. So of course, I took my own photo and posted it immediately.

Beyond this, the food itself is fantastic. The fish is as fresh as can be and may even rival that of Sushi Yasaka on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. While Yasaka is a staple in its own right, it’s clear why Hatsuhana is a favorite of the city’s East Siders.

The drinks
Hatsuhana’s draw isn’t simply because of its fresh fish. The restaurant boasts a full bar along with some high quality bottles of sake. Because I dined here planning to only spend my money on the Box of Dreams, I opted instead for some green tea. The restaurant’s green tea was some of the best I’ve had, so I’d certainly recommend it if you’re looking for something relaxing and pleasant to pair with your meal in place of liquor.

The service/ambience
I can’t say I’ve ever really had a bad experience at a Japanese restaurant. The service is almost always good, attentive, and quick, but Hatsuhana is a cut above. The wait staff is incredibly friendly, my tea was refilled so many times I had to finally say “thanks, I can’t drink another sip,” and upon leaving the restaurant, we were thanked by every single waiter and waitress on the floor as well as the handful of sushi chefs behind the sushi bar.

The ambience is lovely, too. The restaurant is decorated in a traditional Japanese style and the overall crowd is soft spoken and pleasant.

Truthfully, for the money spent, Hatsuhana is more than worth it. The food is fresh and abundant, the service is fantastic (seriously I felt like royalty), and the ambience couldn’t be better for a quiet evening to enjoy a relaxing meal. Yasaka is wonderful and may arguably serve the best sushi in town, but it’s also loud and busy with a lot of hustle and bustle on the floor. Meanwhile, Hatsuhana, with its quiet confidence and perseverance, is an oasis for sushi lovers.