SeoulFood Spotlight: Hana (하나) Japanese Sushi
If you know me well, you know that I loveeeee sushi. After I became a pescatarian a couple years ago, sushi practically became its own food group for me. When I moved to Korea, my pescatarianism had to take a back seat to survival. Shortly after arriving in the land of ChiMak and all you can eat barbeque, I realized it was going to be pretty impossible to keep up my pescatarian lifestyle while living here (plus, I didn’t want to miss out on trying all of the Korean foods).
Though my diet changed, my unyielding and extreme love for sushi did not. To say I was happy when I finally stumbled upon a decent sushi joint right in my neighborhood would severely downplay my (extremely elated) feelings.
Hana (하나)Japanese Sushi is quite appropriately named. In Korean, Hana means the number one, and this is hands down my number one, favorite place to eat in Seoul. My coworkers can attest to this, as I eat there at least 4 times a week… (and suggest it literally every time someone asks who wants to go for dinner). Hana has everything you’d want from a sushi spot and more: It’s quick, it’s affordable, the staff is friendly, and the food is delicious.
I’m such a frequent flier at Hana, the ladies here not only know my order, (spicy salmon roll… and fried green tea ice cream, if I’m feelin’ frisky), they also know my name, where I’m from, and what I do in Seoul. They greet me with a wave, and a pure kindness that makes me feel so welcome it could turn just about any bad day around. Then they feed me delicious food. Basically, they're my Korea moms.
The feeling of anonymity you have in a big city can be nice, (especially when, like me, you come from a tiny town, where everyone knows everything about everyone). After a while it can be hard living in such a fast-paced city environment, where no one knows, or cares to know, your name. Having a place where I’m remembered and always greeted with warm smiles is such a blessing in this massive city, even if it’s just a teeny, cozy sushi spot.
As if the amazing service isn’t enough to make you want to try this place, their food is phenomenal. With a wide variety of choices, and fresh fish, straight from the nearby Noryangjin Fish Market, there is something to satisfy everyone. My personal favorite, and usual go-to, is the spicy salmon roll. The roll is eight pieces, and, when you dine in, you also get a salad and miso soup… all for ₩5,000 (or $4.29USD).
Not a fan of sushi? They have plenty of other options on the menu too, (like fried green tea ice cream which is only ₩4,000)! Overall, the quality, service, and price is absolutely unbeatable.
This hole in the wall spot has a small bar for seating, a few tables down stairs, and a few larger tables in the upstairs loft. Hee-Soon Moon, the head chef, is one of the kindest people I have met in Korea, and makes incredible Japanese food. I don’t just come here for the sushi… I come for the amazing people who make this tiny restaurant feel a bit like home.
If you're ever in Gwanak near Seoul National University, or are just craving some solid sushi rolls, I highly recommend checking out Hana Japanese Sushi. They’re located near SNU Station on line number 2 – just take exit 2 and walk straight until you see the Subway restaurant on your left. Turn left like you’re going into Subway, but, instead keep walking straight inside the building. Hana Sushi will be the first place on your right. Tell em Kirstie sent ya – and eat all the sushi and green tea ice cream your heart can handle!