Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Say hello to Haru

MONGOLIAN BEEF:  Asian fusion at Haru
Sushi? In Cabot? The heck you say.
But indeed, there is another sushi bar to replace the departed KoPan on Cabot’s main strip. Japanese fare can now be found at Haru Asian Bistro… and at lunch it can be found relatively cheap.
Though, to be honest, the lunch boxes at Haru are more Asian fusion than any one particular sort of cuisine.
Took the girlchild with me for lunch the other day. I was just driving through town checking things out (like the fact that the former Grandma’s Butter Lovin’s is now a Shipley’s Donuts) and saw the sign. There weren’t many cars, but it was worth a stop-in.
Hunter, of course, had her current favorite, seaweed salad ($3 as a side). Took nothing at all to figure that out. One of the waitresses gave her chopsticks that had been banded for her ease — which fascinated my girl to no end.
I had a harder time choosing. Haru offers 18 different lunch boxes for $6 (Salmon Teriyaki is $8 and a Sushi and Sashimi box is $10) with items ranging from Beef Bulgogi to kebabs to General Tso Chicken. I settled on the Mongolian Beef.
My box was large — more what I had come to expect from a dinner serving than a lunch serving. It included a number of items — a ginger dressing soaked salad, fried rice with plenty of sesame seeds, orange slices, four pieces of California roll, a cucumber kimchi and the entrée. The rice was nutty, very separate (I prefer stickier rice, but this was all right) with bits of egg, pea and sesame seeds in it.
I feel I need to mention the sesame seeds — they were present in the rice, in the seaweed salad, in the Mongolian Beef. They seemed to be everywhere.
The little cucumber kimchi pickles were fresh, crispy and spicy from the red pepper flakes they’d been prepared with. They didn’t really go with anything in the box, but they were tasty.
The California roll was just a bit on the tiny side. The avocado seemed fresh enough, indicating it had been made that morning, but it was just sort of there — not really adding anything more than a bit of starch to the meal, filling one of the many segments of the box.
So, how was the Mongolian Beef? Sweet. Very tangy, sweet and a little peppery — the caramelized flavor of the white onion overcoming any of the sharpness you get when sautéing green onions for the same dish. It had a strong flavor of hoisin sauce. But it was tasty… the beef wasn’t overcooked, it was soft enough to be easily chewed and it was fun to pick up with the chopsticks.
I’ll have to go back and try the dinner menu. I suspect it’ll be quite a bit more expensive than the lunch menu, but I could be wrong. I’m glad to see this continued Japanese presence in the Cabot cuisine scene; I just wonder how much more the restaurant is going to merge offered cuisines. It’s not offensive. Maybe it will survive where its predecessor failed.
You’ll find Haru Asian Bistro at 701 West Main Street in Cabot. (501) 843-8898 or check out the Facebook page.

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