Monday, May 5, 2014

Hino Oishi Hibachi and Japanese Cuisine

Of course when we heard there was a new sushi place in Carmel, my friend Suzanne and I had to give it a try.  We have eaten sushi all over this town. This place is also a Japanese steakhouse (hibachi restaurant) although we just sat on the sushi side. It is a clean, modern looking place in a strip mall (next to Goodwill) and they have done a nice job with the décor. It kind of reminds me of that Izakaya place over on 96th Street décor-wise.

As is our standard practice when we do sushi together, we ordered the agedashi tofu ($6), which is deep fried tofu. Usually you get 3-4 large blocks of the tofu that have been battered in a tempura-type batter and fried. This one was different, and superior in my mind, because they cut the tofu into little cubes and then deep-fried them. You got more crunch to tofu ratio and I really appreciated it.  Normally, you get to the middle of the others and it’s just a little soggy.  This was nicely done. It was served on top of dashi stock, which is a very lightly flavored fish-flavored stock—but it is a very delicate flavor. We both really enjoyed this dish.

We then perused the roll options and negotiated our choices. We had the dragon roll ($11), the Hino roll ($11) and the Spicy Skittle roll ($12).  I would say overall, the quality of the sushi was good. The fish was fresh and the rolls put together well. 

My favorite (as this kind of roll usually is) was the dragon roll. It was shrimp tempura inside (and it was nice and crisp and you could tell recently prepared) topped with eel, avocado and a drizzle of the slightly sweet eel sauce. The roll wasn’t too big to eat, and they were generous with the avocado, which I love. I love this combo because it has the right mix of crunch and softness.

Next I would probably say I liked the Spicy Skittle, although it was definitely bigger and a little more challenging to eat. It had spicy tuna inside (but it was clearly mainly large chunks of good quality maguro) and was topped with nice pieces of salmon, tuna and yellowtail as well as a bit of mixed tobiko (those teeny little fish eggs that are more for decoration than taste as far as I can tell). The fish was good quality but for me this one just lacked the little bit of texture variation---the tobiko couldn’t give you enough.

My least favorite was the hino roll. I was hesitant, yet excited to try this one described as shrimp tempura inside and topped with spicy crab and tempura flakes and drizzled with eel sauce. I knew it would have the requisite crunch I like (it did) from the shrimp and the tempura flakes but the spicy crab didn’t come across as real crab. I know it is common for sushi places to use fake crab in sushi, and this one listed “krab sticks” several places on the menu, but it also listed real crab in several items (using “crabmeat” or the particular kind of crab in the descriptions) so I was hopeful. But this was stringy and not very good. By the end, I just knocked the top off and ate the roll by itself. I would skip “spicy crab” on this menu and go with something else. Heck, the “spicy tuna” was much better.

All in all though I liked this place. The have a nice menu of not just sushi and the hibachi items, but also things like ramen and other noodle dishes. I would like to go back and give some of them a try.

Hino Oishi 
10491 Walnut Creek Drive, #160
Carmel, IN 46032
Hino Oishi on Urbanspoon


  1. Must have missed you posting this, was going to report back to you on twitter. I went today for lunch and was impressed. I'm not a sushi guy, so I had the Katsu Don (fried pork tenderloin with omelette over rice), and it was really tasty. I'm going to try and drag the family here for the Hibachi grill side sometime to check it out.

    1. Blake--I meant to tweet you about it too. Yeah, I want to try the hibachi with the fam too. If you get there first, let me know!