For Valentine’s Day, the Boyfriend and I decided to try a new restaurant. Both of us have been very interested in Japanese tapas-style small plates so we decided on Hibino. Located in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, Hibino offers Kyoto-style Obanzai’s that change daily. They have chalkboards scattered around the restaurant listing the daily Obanzai’s and special dishes in addition to their set menu.
We arrived at 6pm and the restaurant was already more than half full. By the time we left at 7:30pm, there were three couples waiting for a table by the door. We were seated right away and given menus to look over. The first thing I ordered was a glass of their Muromachi Shuzo “Ume Shu” Plum Sake ($7.50), which was one of the best drinks I have ever had. The ume shu, which is aged with ripe plums for a year, was juicy, sweet and light. I thoroughly enjoyed my drink.
Our first dish to arrive was an order of Edamame ($3.00), which came in a very large portion. The bowl was very deep – so deep that we felt like we were served a bottomless amount of edamame! The edamame was very fresh and the portion size was definitely a steal.
Next came our order of Negi Toro Roll ($12.00), which was a daily special. The roll, which featured the belly of the Pacific BlueFin Tuna, was the highlight of the night. The moment I put a piece of the roll into my mouth, the tuna started to melt. The toro was so soft and fresh that I barely had to chew!
As we finished our toro roll, our order of their Fresh House Made Tofu ($4.00) arrived. We decided to have the cold tofu, which is served with ginger, scallions and a soy-dashi sauce. The tofu was very soft and the presentation was very unique. However, we both agreed that the tofu wasn’t as good as Zenkichi’s homemade tofu. The texture was a bit looser and grainier than Zenkichi’s, which is smoother and more compact.
We also ordered their Jumbo Shrimp Dumplings off their daily Obanzai menu ($5.00). The shrimp dumplings were delicious! The skin was very crunchy and the inside was packed to the brim with shrimp and crabmeat. I was surprised at how good these dumplings were – I was expecting more of a gyoza shape but these were definitely better!
We opted to share the Hibino Sushi Plate ($19.00), which features 7 pieces of assorted sushi and one roll of Kyoto Style Futomaki. The assorted sushi was very fresh. The salmon sushi in particular was very fatty and soft. The Kyoto Style Futomaki, which has tuna, shrimp, eel, avocado, cucumber, tamago and tobiko with a side of Yuzu mayo, was quite delicious. At first I thought the amount of ingredients inside the roll would overpower each other but it didn’t at all. I could clearly taste the eel, tuna, avocado and tamago in each bite!
We finished the night with two shared desserts – Soy Milk Pudding and Green Tea Ice Cream Sandwich. The Soy Milk Pudding was spectacular! It tasted exactly like soy milk – you can just tell that it was freshly made! I thought the little mini-milk jar made a very cute presentation but it made scooping out all of the pudding a bit hard.
The Green Tea Ice Cream Sandwich featured two pancakes with green tea ice cream, red bean paste and sliced strawberries. I have eaten red bean paste pancakes and green tea ice cream separately before but I have never even thought about putting the two together! The end result was a dessert that is very distinctly Japanese, which we both really enjoyed. The eating process might not have been the cleanest, but it was definitely one of the best desserts I’ve eaten.
Overall I was extremely satisfied with my meal at Hibino. The ume shu plum sake was a very pleasant surprise and both desserts were very good. But I don’t think I will make them a regular on my restaurant rotation. It’s actually a bit far from the Court Street train station and I never like trekking for my food. I’ll definitely be back but it won’t be anytime soon.