It's like Sex and the Suburbs and 30 Rock all rolled into one…
Saturday, due to a mix up of some Ellie proportions, I ended up having to kill two hours in the mall before my shift at work started. Normally mall food, unless the wonderful and delicious Taco Bell, holds little appeal to me. However, I had some time and rather than getting a cocktail and app at The Standard or Pizza Uno, decided my book and the food court was the place to chill. And yet I was hungry and didn’t feel like trying to microwave the lunch I had brought. Besides, it was ghetto food – broccoli and cheese rice from the packet and frozen veggies stirred in. (When I cook, I really don’t know how to cook.)
Enter Hana Express: the little sister to the Hana Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar on Western Ave. Unlike the other counters in the food court at Crossgates, Hana has some charm and character. There’s tile, and a glass window where you can actually see the fish being served. The entire set up is open so as you wait, you can see the Hibachi chef prepare your food. Yes. Yes. They prepare your food in front of you; you see how they cook what you’re about to eat. The sushi is made fresh while you watch.
And guess what? It’s really good!! Having never been to the Hana on Western Ave, I can’t compare. However, I ordered the hibachi veggie platter and some veggie rolls and it was really good. The vegetables were sauteed nicely and had a good flavor, but let the natural tastes of carrot, squash and onion come through. The fried rice was delicious, with real chunks of egg in it. What I liked the most was that the veggie roll was so fresh – the cucumber snapped a little and the avocado wasn’t discolored at all. What set Hana apart was that the ingredients were fresh, something only the wrap place can boast, and that the food didn’t sit under heat lamps. However, what I think I liked the most was how clean everything was. The staff was dressed in black pants and dress shirts, the chefs in white chef clothing. And because you could see everything, they were super careful to handle the food properly.
What startled me was that with no lines and prices better than the chinese food counters, there was hardly any wait to place an order. No lines! Come on people, let’s get with it. What would you rather eat? Seasame chicken left to sit out for hours or a freshly cooked steak? Oh Albany, don’t fail me!