Welcome Hanami!

Japanese OystersPrincetonians, if you haven’t been by the old Sunny Garden location on Farber Road lately, you’re in for a surprise. The family who has owned it for the last few years has beautifully redocorated the restaurant, re-named it Hanami, after the annual Japanese cherry blossom viewing parties, and inaugurated a spiffy new Chinese/Japanese/Fusion menu. Don’t worry, you can still dash in for a quick and inexpensive Chinese meal (or takeout or delivery), but now they also offer a raft of interesting and creative dishes – foie gras fried rice anyone? – that make for a special night out. 

The upscale ambience is set with dramatic décor that features a glittering cherry tree sculpture in the main dining room.  Asian influenced music from around the world, a tea bar with unique bubble teas and smoothies, and a nice sushi bar complete the picture.  No liquor license, but of course you can BYO.SearedCuttlefish

I expect great things from their sushi and sashimi, if the yellowtail with serrano pepper I had at my complementary “practice dinner” there the other night is any indication.  We also enjoyed exquisite Japanese oysters (photo) on the half-shell with ponzu (I know, carbon footprint issues – does it help that I’m doing all NJ cheese trays for two holiday dinners?), rock shrimp with rosy aioli, a fantastic (and gorgeous) seared cuttlefish dish (photo), rare tenderloin with shitakes and snow peas, and prawns with XO sauce (photo). Desserts included a good vanilla creme brulée and gelatos (I had pistachio, and it was the real deal.)

Prawns with XO sauceHanami’s dinner specialties start at $12 and lunch specials are $10. They also serve prix fixe meals and a six course tasting menu called Chef’s Omakase.  And those chefs have high-powered pedigrees from places like Nobu, Megu, and Tao in Manhattan!

I was also impressed with the energetic owners, Eric and Danielle.  They have a lot of restaurant experience in their family, so that plus their youthful enthusiasm (and good food of course!) should go a long way toward making Hanami a popular new dining destination in Princeton.

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5 thoughts on “Welcome Hanami!

  1. We ate at Hanami last night. The food, when it finally came, was fine, but the service was disastrous. At one point our server brought the entrees out to a station next to our table. He then walked away, leaving the food to cool. Flummoxed, we waited 5-10 minutes, and were about to serve ourselves when he finally reappeared to move the food from the oh-so-close serving station to our table. On another low note, the restaurant didn’t have FIVE of the dishes we ordered. It seemed like they were out of half the menu by7:30 on a Wednesday night.

  2. I came here on Christmas Day. Hanami was PACKED, but the food was excellent, hot, and was presented very nicely. The service was amazing, they were very friendly there. The decor was beautiful. The theme is cherry blossoms, and there is a crystal tree in the center if the main dining room that is absolutley stunning. I waited less than I expected too. I suggest to everyone that you make a reservation though. My favorite part of it all was the tea bar. Very unique idea. The drinks were served cold, and i got three drinks. I am positive that the creator of these teas is an experienced mixologist. Anyways, the over all expierence for me was excellent, I will be returning, *****+

  3. The stunning 6′ tall Custom Made Silver Crystal Tree in the center of the main dining room of Hanami used approximately 3000 genuine Swarovski crystals and was made by EtherealDecor.com which custom makes them. They are offered on the website as crystal wedding trees or event decor.

  4. We went to Hanami for dinner over the weekend. They were very busy, but luckily we had reservations so they sat us right away. The dining room was decorated elegantly with urban touches, but very inviting. We brought our own wine, because we were told it was a bring your own establishment. We ordered the best wonton soup (which it was),toro tartar, rock shrimp tempura,sashimi salad, grilled miso eggplant, new style sushi, and xo shrimp. The toro tartar was so fresh and delicious. My kids loved the rock shrimp tempura. The eggplant was seasoned perfectly and the shrimp in the xo shrimp was delicious and fresh. I think my favorite two dishes were the sashimi salad (which I had at nobu before), but taste better here and the new style sushi which was fresh and AMAZING. I love sushi and consider myself a sushi snob, but this is sushi at a whole new level. The sushi chef put toppings on each of the sushi pieces. You have to try it to experience sushi zen. The service was great and the food amazing. I am so happy to have a great place in princeton to take the family. My kids also loved the cotton candy while my husband I treated ourselves to the best creme brulee and green tea crepe.

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