Hana Sushi chef Andrew ParmeleeíS finished rainbow roll, above. Below, Parmelee creates the roll on the restaurantís second day open after a fire closed the business located on the Ashland Plaza. Bob Pennell photo - Bob Pennell

Hana Sushi

Hana Sushi finally has reopened on the Plaza in Ashland.

A fire allegedly set by a homeless man in a nearby stairwell in late March shuttered the restaurant and other nearby businesses until the scorched building and smoke-damaged spaces could be restored and refurbished. With multiple insurance companies wrangling over the damages, the process took longer than anticipated, restaurant owner Bill Barchet reported. Aiming to welcome customers back in June, he opened the doors this month on the elegantly revamped space he designed himself.

The dining room is sleek and spacious, with a vaulted ceiling, warm, bamboo accents and a gleaming sushi bar. However, at this time of year, seating along Ashland Creek beckons, so my husband and I pulled up aluminum stools at an outdoor bar built around a tree. Perched in sun-dappled shade, we had a perfect place for watching people passing through the Lithia Artisans Market on Calle Guanajuato.

Hana's menu remains the same as it was before the fire. It offers a healthy mix of Japanese and Korean fare with Hawaiian accents. While I'm sometimes temporarily tempted to try spicy, Korean-style, grilled meats or hearty noodle soup, I can't skip the sushi here.

Prices for rolls start at $4.50 for basic cucumber or avocado and top out at $14 for specialty rolls such as a black spider roll, which includes a fried soft-shell crab and layer of grilled eel, or the red dragon roll, featuring spicy tuna, crispy shrimp, cucumber and avocado. The menu includes both baked and tempura-fried rolls for those who shy away from raw fish, as well as an array of sashimi platters for those who want nothing but fish straight from the sea.

My husband and I decided to try the $9 Hana roll, a tasty-sounding combination of spicy tuna, salmon, avocado and tobiko. Those just happen to be some of my favorite sushi ingredients, and the tastes and textures were combined in perfect harmony in this flavorful roll.

We rounded out a light meal with a few pieces of nigiri, selecting salmon belly and yellowtail, each priced at $6 for two pieces. Large slices of rich salmon draped over nicely cooked rice formed into neat ovals. The yellowtail looked a little ragged but tasted good.

A side of house-made kimchee added extra zip to our meal for just $3. The spicy melange of chopped napa cabbage and julienned daikon radish got a hint of nutty flavor from sesame seeds.

Hana offers a selection of local and imported beer, including a $1 beer special, which was Pabst Blue Ribbon on the day we visited. My beer-snob husband noted that hipsters might be on to something, as the PBR's clean, subtle flavor nicely complemented the sushi.

I opted for a sake flight, featuring 1-ounce samples of four sakes from Hana's list: a clean classic from Japan, a slightly sweeter, organic sake brewed in Oregon (my favorite), a mild and milky, unfiltered sake also made in Oregon and a fruity plum option, also from Oregon. For $4, it was a fun way to sip different types of sake, comparing how they tasted on their own and paired with food.

We got friendly and knowledgeable service from returning employees and a new trainee, all of whom were kept busy by customers in the dining room and across the creekside seating area. Staff said that many regulars who frequented the restaurant before the fire are back.

Hana Sushi, at 29 N. Main St., is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

— Anita Burke

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