YUKI HANA JAPANESE FUSION
3635 Aloma Ave., Oviedo | 407-695-8808 | sushioviedo.com | $$$
Oviedo strip malls have laid claim to some of the better Asian restaurants we’ve visited over the past couple of years – Sushi Pop and Saigon Flavors immediately come to mind, and now Yuki Hana, a resto with a dubious claim of offering “Japanese Fusion” cuisine, can be added to the steadily growing list. I say “dubious” because a dab of bacon jam atop seared scallops, or feta cheese stuffed into a sushi roll, hardly qualifies as “fusion” cuisine. That minor annoyance was magnified somewhat when we were informed that there was no toro of any type available.
So, as the voice of Norm MacDonald What the H!-ed inside my head, we scoured the rest of the menu while sipping green tea. BTW: Our server made it a point to mention that she wasn’t permitted to serve us a pot of green tea as it was too dangerously hot to leave at our table. As we heard this, I saw a gentleman seated across from us being served supersized firecracker rolls ($14) on a plate centered with a ring of fire. So, to recap: open flame OK; teapot not OK. Got it.
At this point you’re probably wondering why we found Yuki Hana a favorable (ultimately) place to dine. Well, it all started after the lamentable order of broiled eggplant ($8). With toppings of beef, mozzarella and a ginger-miso sauce, this greasy Nippo-Italian item just turned into a droopy, messy handful. But following that unfortunate starter, our meal turned the proverbial corner.
A walnut salad ($8) with lime-hoisin sauce and crispy, fatty slices of duck perched on mixed greens couldn’t have been better, and pepper-tuna maki rolls ($7), given a lively burst with mango, were delightful. Seven clean and superbly fresh cuts of tuna, yellowtail, escolar and salmon highlighted a bento box ($22) also comprising shrimp shumai dumplings and moist, tender chicken teriyaki. The rice had a nice subtle crunch to it as well.
Beef negimaki ($22), a signature entree, also impressed: thinly sliced well-marbled beef wrapped around asparagus and scallions, then pan-seared. A dressing of wasabi-miso rounded off these round bites quite nicely. And had the sizable hamachi kama ($13) not been overdone, the balsamic-glazed collar certainly would’ve received top marks.
We will give top marks for the interior design. Blacks and blues make for a calm, sleek setting, but the Zen mood is unsettled somewhat by a predictably banal down-tempo soundtrack. Servers could work on menu familiarization and pacing skills, though in chatting with all of them, as well as the owner, they were as sweet as xango.
What’s xango, you ask? Why, it’s a dessert ($7) of sweet and tangy cheesecake rolled in a flaky tortilla and served with a side of vanilla ice cream and strawberries. Not exactly Japanese – more Mexican, I guess – but if your interpretation of “fusion” is as liberal as your palate, you’d do well to pay Yuki Hana a visit.