banner.jpgMy trip to Japan was exhilarating, but exhausting. After days of struggling to find my way around around Kyoto and embarrassing myself trying to use broken Japanese, I was glad to be back in my crowded, loud, but favorite city: New York, baby! Still, I didn’t want to leave Kyoto totally behind. What’s a samurai to do? Go to Hibino, of course!

obanzai.jpgHibino (333 Henry Street, Brooklyn, 718-260-8052) is a Kyoto style restaurant in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn and one of the crown Jewels of the neighborhood. They serve delicious sushi and sake, but what makes Hibino ‘Kyoto style’? One word: “Obanzai”. Also known as Obanzai Ryori, Obanzai is really just small side dishes prepared daily with elegantly appointed ingredients such as tofu, boiled daikon and eggplants. It’s a distinct style of Japanese tapas that reflect the refined tastes of Japan’s most historic city.

dassai50.jpgUpon arriving, friendly Manager Hinata Sato-san seated us at the bar but soon came over to ask me if I was Mr. Urban Sake! I thought, wow… I’m really becoming famous! Soon the paparazzi will be chasing me and Linsey Lohan down the red carpet! Well…not quite. As it turns out Sato-san reminded me that I’m friends with Hibino Restaurant on Myspace. Oh well, it wasn’t quite my 15 mins of fame. It was more like 15 seconds, but who’s counting. Time for a drink.

The Hibino sake menu is consice but solid. Here is a sampling of the brews that had to offer on the evening I was there:

  • Tamano Hikari Junmai Ginjo (from Kyoto!)
  • Masumi Karakuchi Ki Ippon Junmai Ginjo
  • Dassai 50
  • Dewazakura Oka Ginjo
  • Diamond Dust Nigori
  • Ugo No Tsuki Junmai Ginjo
  • Born Muroka namagenshu
  • Born Tokusen Junmai Daiginjo

tofu.jpgLots of fun and interesting choices, but since this was my decompress from Japan night, I went with the sake brand I enjoyed there on my trip to Yamaguchi, Dassai. The Dassai 50 is a terrific sake and a real value given what your getting. Having gotten a view of life at the brewery, I have a real appreciation for the care and effort it takes to create a consistent taste in a sake. So many variables could effect the flavor. Dassai came through with flying colors as usual.

The Obanzai and sushi are both really good here, but not to be missed on the Hibino menu is the freshly homemade tofu. It’s kinda unreal how good it is… and I’m not usually a tofu fanatic (UrbanTofu.com anyone?). Please try it. you’ll like it!

Oh, and if you happen to see me on the red carpet sometime during my remaining 14 mins and 45 seconds of fame, be sure to say hello. No autographs, please.

7 replies
  1. Thomas
    Thomas says:

    Timothy,

    Hello from Japan.

    I have been drinking Mutsu Hassen for a few years now. Nothing beats a fine jizake and nothing is worse than Ozeki One Cup (lol). I have posted the links below (I have no commercial affiliation whatsoever).

    http://www.aomori-sake.or.jp/kuramoto/itiran/hatinohe.html
    http://www.jizake-tanimura.info/img/mutuhassen.htm

    When I move back to NYC, someone is going to have to reintroduce me to the Japanese eatery/bar scene since many of the places that I frequented back in the 90’s have since closed (including a few that refused to let me in).

    Regards,

    Tom

  2. Timothy
    Timothy says:

    Simon,

    thanks for your comment. Great to hear from you. I have tried Born before and it is really terrific. I didn’t know a lot about Kasu-Buai, but now that you mentioned it, I did a little research. Interesting! I hope I get to try Chogin someday.

    On my next trip to Hibino, I’ll get the lowdown on which born they are serving and let you know.

    I have had some terrific (and clear!) koshu from nanbu bijin aged at very cold temps.

    thanks for checking in from Holland! now I feel internationally famous 😉

  3. Simon Hofstra
    Simon Hofstra says:

    Try the sake from Born(say Bone) next time. This brewer from Fukui is maturing his sake at low temperature. Best sake from him is Chogin which has been matured for 5 years at minus 8 degrees Celsius, got a Seimai Buai of 21% and a Kasu Buai of 72%.
    I hope that special Junmai Daiginjo is Tokusen Echizen. This sake has been matured more then 2 years at 0 degrees Celsius.

    About being famous, Your site is visited by sake lovers from Holland as well, so you got your audience worldwide.

  4. Scott
    Scott says:

    Timothy,

    Alright! Such a great review for one of my “go-to” Japanese restaurants.

    I think there will be more than 14 minutes, 45 seconds on your fame clock…

    Scott

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