- Lunch Hours
Monday - Saturday 11:30AM - 2:30PM
Sunday - Thursday
5:00PM - 9:00PM
Friday & Saturday
5:00PM - 9:30PM
101 Golf Course Drive
Rohnert Park, CA
( in DoubleTree Plaza )
Review - The San Francisco ChronicleHana Japanese Restaurant is tucked away discreetly in the Doubletree Plaza on the northern edge of Rohnert Park a stone's throw from Highway 101. Tinted windows obscure the interior's subdued but tasteful decor, and nothing about its appearance announces what many locals believe -- that this is one of the best restaurants in all of Sonoma County.
It's common to see other chefs and restaurateurs eating here early in the day, always a testament to a restaurant's appeal. I've enjoyed countless meals here and have never had a disappointing experience. When space is available, I like to sit at the sushi bar, where three chefs zip through orders with flashing knives and the careful attention to detail that expert sushi and sashimi demands. They are a joy to watch. Behind them, two boards announce more than a dozen specials, while permanent wooden shingles list sushi selections in English and Japanese.
I begin most meals at Hana with a refreshing seaweed salad ($4), slightly chewy tendrils dressed with a sweet sesame dressing, although I occasionally opt for the house sunomono ($6), a tangy mixture of rice noodles, thin cucumber slices, octopus, shrimp, crab and seaweed. A miniature version of the salad comes with several of the entrees at lunch and dinner.
These salads -- and the cucumber sunomono ($4.50), with rice noodles, cucumbers and seaweed in the same tangy vinegar dressing -- highlight what is so good about Hana. The ingredients are dazzlingly fresh; the kitchen seems to have perfect pitch when it comes to dressings, sauces and seasonings; and presentation is intentional and refined without being overwrought.
Several other starters are as appealing as those salads. Thin strips of succulent duck breast ($7.50), lightly smoked and rare, are served over a bed of young greens and dressed with a soy vinaigrette that has just the right flourish of sweetness to enhance the smokiness of the duck. It is one of the best salads I've had anywhere.
Goma-ae ($4.50), spinach that has been boiled briefly and tossed with a sweet sesame seed dressing, is sensational, with the bright taste of fresh spinach. In the evenings, a complimentary dish of edamame makes a perfect nibble.
If it's sushi you want, you won't find better in the North Bay. All the familiar nigiri favorites -- hamachi (yellow tail, $5), hirame (halibut, $4. 50), tobiko (flying fish roe, $3.75), maguro (tuna, $4) and unagi (fresh water eel, $4.50) -- are flawless, with generous slices of sweet, succulent fish atop dense rectangles of sushi rice.
Less familiar selections are equally good. We've particularly enjoyed toro (blue fin tuna belly, $8), shima aji (striped jack, $5), kanpachi (amber jack, $5), katsuo (bonito, $4.50) and gyutataki (seared filet mignon, $4). And there's fresh wasabi from Oregon ($1.50) for the asking.
When it comes to maki, more than two dozen rolls are offered, with 10 vegetarian selections and several that are cooked, in case you've got a squeamish eater at your table. I particularly like sake kawa (grilled salmon skin, radish sprouts and pickled burdock root, $4.50), negihama (yellowtail and green onion, $8) and negitoro (tuna belly and green onion, $8).
A few house specialties pay tribute to local ingredients, so if you're daring you might want to try unagi and foie gras ($10), an indulgent if not decadent combination that works beautifully.
If you don't want to choose for yourself, there are several Chef's Choice selections, from Sushi Mori (eight nigiri and one maki, $18.50) to Moriawase (seven kinds of sashimi selected by the chef, $32). Ahh, I love a place where all I have to do is say "feed me."
Although I find the sushi here all but irresistible, there's a huge selection of other dishes that deserves attention. When the weather turns cool or you simply need a comfy lift, udon noodles -- thick handmade noodles in hot,fragrant broth with rib-eye steak (lunch only, $8.75) or vegetable and prawn tempura ($10) -- really hit the spot. At lunch, you can have a small bowl of udon ($4) with any order. And if you're one of those people who can never get enough unagi, you'll enjoy una jyu ($15.50 at lunch; $20 at dinner) -- three generous fillets of broiled freshwater eel in a sweet soy sauce over rice.
A bento box meal makes a bargain lunch, with miso soup and a tiny sunomono salad followed by a lacquered box full of little morsels. There are four choices, including Bento Box A ($10) with three pieces of California roll, several pieces of crispy tempura vegetables and prawn, a tender chicken breast in teriyaki glaze, a little bowl of goma-ae, several types of pickled vegetables and a generous portion of rice seasoned with black sesame seeds.
In all of my visits to Hana, only one dish has not lived up to our expectations -- Yakiniku Don ($8). The thin slices of pan-seared rib-eye steak would have been excellent if the beef had been rare instead of well done; the mildly spicy soy sauce was excellent, but the beef itself was dry and tough.
There's a good list of local wines, beers and sakes -- five served hot, one cold -- and hot green tea that is a little grassy for my taste.
Hana is bigger than it appears. A small area off the main room opens onto a second dining room, a quiet, out-of-the-way space perfect for lingering over one of Hana's special omakase meals, a multicourse chef's choice dinner that begins at $40 per person.
At peak hours, every table and every seat at the bar is occupied, and the wait can be a half hour or more. But the staff is efficient and genuinely friendly, and the wait has never seemed unreasonable.
Hana's location may have worked against it to some degree; I meet people all the time who don't realize it's there. Yet once you discover it, you won't forget it -- the superior quality of its food and service will draw you back again and again.