I ate at Hamano last night after recent reports suggesting the quality had returned to its pre-sale levels. It felt good to be back--I ate at Hamano every week for the first five years they were open, often at 9:30 or 10 and used to joke with Hama than I wanted my name engraved on the back of one of the chairs.
The highlight was definitely the specials. No live uni, although they did offer two kinds of Japanese sea urchin. I preferred the bitterer bright orange one.
Toro was exceptional (as it should be for $12.95). The couple next to us had albacore belly that looked great too. Unfortunately it was the last piece.
Ankimo was delicious, and I have never been known to like ankimo before. We had something listed as fresh ocean trout that looked like salmon and was topped with a clear bit of seaweed; it was wonderful. Fresh sardines were yummy.
Less exciting: anago seemed dry and flavorless; sanma was only okay; a spider roll was tasty but not the best I've had; ikura was a little sticky; hamachi wasn't that fresh. I'm sure I'm missing something--we didn't leave hungry.
Prices are high although their nigiri is still obscenely large. In some cases the prices were higher than the quality warranted. I probably won't be back every week. But glad to know they're still around and offering hard to find fish.
$135 for two including tax, tip, and three bottles of premium sake; more than twice what I typically spend at Yo's for two including a glass or two of Kurosawa. Service was competent but missing that Japanese touch.
Afterward we strolled over to Belgano, the new chocolate and ice cream spot where Stonehouse Oil was, on the corner of Sanchez and 24th. They serve Ciao Bella gelato and are generous with tastes (they only opened two days ago); we both got the zabalione and I tried strawberry too. A case in the back is filled with Leonidas chocolates for $30 a pound. I think they'll do well in the neighborhood.