Second Place

Second Place

Hachiroku is on a roll, opening a second restaurant with the same name as the downtown flagship, this time at 966 State Street, on East Rock’s main drag. Unlike Orange Street’s Shokudo-style approach, this new upper State Street spot specializes in handrolls, in a way Nutmeggers probably aren’t used to.

Past an all-black facade with a heavy door, I was greeted by owner Yuta Kamori and grabbed a perch at the 12-seat bar. Light wood tones and simple design are a minimalist’s dream and convey a sort of austere confidence reflected in the sleek menu. The space consists entirely of the bar, served directly by executive chef Gen Hashimoto, who elegantly prepares all dishes to order in view of the guests.

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The approach is a departure from the popular sushi flourishes—sweet sauces, tempura crunch, gobs of kewpie mayo—often enjoyed in the West. Rather than piling on flavors, Hachiroku’s menu is a matter of subtraction and refinement, letting the ingredients stand in their purity. “We’re going for Tokyo-style sushi,” says Kamori, which he describes as “more traditional and less sweet.”

Though the Orange and State street locations feature similar ingredients, “the preparation is totally different,” Kamori adds. Tokyo-style sushi, which emerged about 200 years ago, utilizes quick simmering, marinating and salt curing of fish, all common practices before refrigeration. The first dish I went for was the Bluefin Tuna Prosciutto, a shining example of the Tokyo style (despite the Italian naming). After curing in salt for three weeks, thin slices are served just as they are, with the simple addition of some (crazy delicious) roughly chopped wasabi.

I then watched Hashimoto assemble a pair of “box-pressed” sushi dishes: the Oshi Sushi (cured yuzu salmon wrapped in kelp) and the Battera (saba mackerel, also in kelp), both served as “two bites.” I’d recommend either or both, as they’re a delicious, economical ($7 each) way to get acquainted with the style.

The Lobster Roll, like a nori cigar packed with seasoned rice and poached lobster dressed in butter (a nod to a downeast lobster roll), is a clear crowd-pleaser. My last and favorite bite was the A3 Wagyu Sushi ($19), consisting of slices of beef that melted into pure umami goodness over seasoned rice.

Some fish is sourced locally, the rest imported straight from Japan, and offerings are contingent on the quality of available ingredients. So the menu you find might differ from the one I did. Still, if my experience is any indication, you can order confidently.

Written and photographed by Katie Lloyd.

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