Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Once a Hiro, Always a Hero


Izakaya Hiro is serving Japanese food right. The flavors are focused. The atmosphere is calm. The cocktails are unique. 

Currently the menu includes Nigiri (fish on rice), Norimaki (rolls), Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), Kushiyaki (other grilled skewers), Ramen (noodle bowls), Donburi (rice bowls) and traditional Izakaya style Soups, Salads, and Appetizers. Next week they expect to open for lunch and will begin serving a finalized menu. I'm personally hoping this will include some Onigiri (rice balls filled with fish or meat or veggies) and Chirashi (rice and sashimi bowls). 

The redesigned space has two large dining rooms and an extensive sushi bar. The front room is sleek exposed brick with wooden accents. Through the curtains in the back of the room is their Kushiyaki grill, hot kitchen, and more booth seating for diners. In a few months they will be introduce a private dining room at the back of the building where guests can enjoy karaoke. 

After two visits I'm totally hooked. The quality of everything has been impeccable. The style is simplistic and more traditional, rather than the common American Sushi Bar featuring futomaki with 5 ingredients and two types of sauce drizzled on the plate with tempura flakes. There's nothing wrong with that style, but I personally enjoy the more classic Japanese style.

With a drink included you can expect to spend around $25 per person. It's not the most inexpensive, but then again, good sushi is a always a bit of a commitment from your wallet.

Do yourself a favor and don't skip the drinks. Besides having charming names like Geisha Blushing and Lovers in Japan, the cocktails are something special. Izakaya Hiro is working with housemade drinking vinegars, traditional rice and barley wines (not the beer style but rather Japanese Sake or Shochu), and fresh fruit combinations. The Sake and Shochu are also available by the glass and can be enjoyed chilled, or heated in the hot sake machine behind the bar.

Beer drinkers rejoice. They have an exciting selection of craft beers including Hitichino Nest from Japan (on draft, which is quite rare).  They also offer bottles including Rogue's Morimoto Soba Ale, Great Divide Samurai, the ubiquitous Kirin Ichiban, and Sapporo. If you don't drink they will pour any of their drinking vinegars with a spalsh of soda water for a refreshing and liver-friendly option.

Assuming the quality stays consistent and the fish stays fresh, Izakaya Hiro will do incredibly well. I'm really excited for the developing ethnic food scene in Charleston. Hiro is a leap in the right direction.


(I apologize for the iPhone photos. My stomach couldn't be bothered with the nice camera on this trip.) 

A table in the front dining room. 

Mackerel Sashimi

Karaage- Japanese Fried Chicken

Yakitori Chicken Skin

Shoyu Ramen

Geisha Blushing- Nigori Sake, Cherry Vinegar, Pomegranate, Soda

Clockwise from top: Spider, Eel, Ginger and Wasabi, Yellowtail, Spicy Tuna


Tako Su- Octopus Salad with Cucumber, Wakame Seaweed, Sesame Seed, tossed in Ponzu



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