Japanese cuisine, culture in Columbia

Authentically prepared food from soup to sushi

Restaurant profile

October 10, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Hanamura Japanese Restaurant acts as a goodwill ambassador to acquaint American diners with traditional Japanese cuisine and culture. "Kohn bann wah," or "good evening," the menu greets.

"We decided to open in Columbia because it is a beautiful place," said Mandy On, who manages the restaurant. "It's very pretty, very quiet."

According to On, the restaurant's name means "flower village."

"The owner, who is from Japan, wanted to find a name that matches the Columbia setting but that also reminded him of Japan," she said.

Among Hanamura's many appetizers are gyoza (deep fried chicken dumplings), kani karaage (large soft-shell crab deep fried and served with a special sauce), ika yaki (select squid grilled with teriyaki sauce), li tako (grilled tiny octopus) or zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles served in chef's special sauce).

A variety of soups and salads are also offered, including miso and kinoko miso (miso soup with five kinds of mushrooms), salmon and sweet corn chowder, and osuimono (tofu with a variety of seafood in a clear broth).

Seafood salad (grilled shrimp, scallops and squid over greens with ponzu dressing) and spicy conch salad are available.

Donburi is the Japanese answer to American fast food. The name comes from the bowl, which is a little bigger than a rice bowl.

Usually, it's a simple but satisfying dish of steaming rice topped with meat or vegetables in a sweet sauce of egg and onion.

Hanamura offers four versions of donburi: oyako don (slices of white meat chicken), katsu don (deep-fried breaded pork cutlet), unagi don (grilled eel) and sukiyaki don (slices of rib-eye steak with vegetables).

Like many Japanese restaurants in the area, Hanamura offers a selection of teriyaki entrees, including chicken breast, ribeye steak, New York strip, salmon, tuna steak and shrimp.

There are also several tempura entrees, such as ebi tempura (lightly battered jumbo shrimp and vegetables), salmon, chicken and vegetables.

Under "chef's special dishes" are entrees such as yosenabe seafood (vegetables and cellophane noodles in a clear broth), tonkatsu (lightly breaded pork cutlet deep-fried), crispy chicken (deep fried chicken breast with tempura batter in a lemon sauce with almond flakes), snowpea ginger (pan-fried snowpeas in a ginger and sesame seed sauce) and sukiyaki pan (tender slices of rib-eye steak with mixed vegetables and cellophane noodles in mirin sauce).

In addition to standard sushi offerings, Hanamura offers maki (rolls) that reflect the American setting.

In addition to more traditional sushi rolls, such as cucumber roll and eel roll, there is bagel roll (smoked salmon and cream cheese), Boston roll (shrimp and asparagus), Columbia roll (smoked salmon and shrimp) and rock `n' roll (tuna and salmon wrapped around eel, crab meat and avocado).

"We like to make eating here fun," On said. "It's more interesting to order a rock `n' roll than a `tuna and salmon wrapped around eel and crab roll.'"

She also said that if you do not see something you think you would like to try, or you think of an idea for a roll that sounds good, ask to have it make. "We like to create new rolls for customers," On said. "We even named a roll - the Kevin roll - for a customer who suggested that we make a roll with spicy tuna tempura."

Hanamura Japanese Restaurant

Where: Lakeside Retail Center, 8865 Stanford Blvd., Suite 105, Columbia; 410-290-2883.

Hours: Lunch, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Dinner, 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 12:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Prices: $8.95 to $14.95

Credit cards: American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover

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