Monday, October 22, 2007

Wait for it, wait for it...Hinode Japanese Restaurant

I've been wanting to give this new Japanese restaurant on the Carroll Creek Promenade in downtown Frederick a try since it opened back in September. I finally had this chance this past Saturday with a few friends on a kid-free restaurant adventure.

I was always a fan of the recently-closed Cafe Kyoko on Patrick Street. The service was never speedy (2 hours seemed to be the norm, regardless of what you ordered), but the food was always very good and the sushi was fresh. Since this Frederick good-old boy closed last month, I've had a hole in the Japanese-side of my stomach.

At first, I was afraid that Hinode would be a hibachi-style restaurant, a la Benihana. Thankfully, that wasn't true. We entered without a reservation right around 7p on Saturday evening, party of 4. We were seated very quickly, which was great. We were all hungry and didn't want to wait too long for our meal.

Our waiter was a really nice guy, but totally weeded from the second we sat down. Now that doesn't mean he was out back doing something he shouldn't -- "weeded" or "in the weeds" or "in the s*&t" is restaurant terminology for being really, really behind. That's never good, but especially at the start of a busy Saturday night.

We ordered our drinks; 2 beers, a margarita, and some yummy, fruity concoction with pineapple juice, Midori, rum, and something else. Unfortunately, it took almost 35 minutes to get our drink order. That was a bummer, but the drinks were really good, so we let it go.

We placed our orders: To start, Butternut Squash Soup (not Japanese, but working with the season I suppose), Crab Cake, & Potato Wrapped Shrimp with "sweet chilly (sic) sauce". The crab cake tasted tinny, but darn, those shrimp were goooood.

It had taken another 30 minutes or so for the apps to show, then another 30 or so after that for the main event. This wasn't careful timing to extend our meal, just a swamped kitchen.

Now don't get me wrong -- the company was great and the mood was relaxed, but we were just a little bit hungry and the food coming out to everyone else looked amazing.

The duck was in a cinnamon-scented sauce. Though cooked just right to a perfect medium-rare, I personally didn't care for the cinnamon. It did go with the figs in the dish, but just didn't work for my taste buds. However, my husband enjoyed it quite a bit.

My friend Ian and I both ordered the Red Snapper with Black Bean Sauce. We actually thought that we received the wrong dishes because of the absence of sauce. After being assured that we had the correct dish, we dug around a little bit and found it (sort of )under the fish. It was delicious, there just wasn't nearly enough. The snapper was cooked perfectly and the dish was really good. With a little more sauce, it could have been great!

Grand total for the evening, including tip, was right around $140. That included almost 2 rounds of drinks (I'm a total lightweight), 3 apps, & 4 main courses. All in all, it was a good experience, if a little slow. Hinode is a good restaurant. I'm anxious to go back in a few months to see how it improves. Maybe next time we'll even have time for dessert! :)


Anonymous said...

I went there in late August and thought the food was decent, but the service was terrible. We attributed it them still working out the kinks of a newly opened restaurant. Sad to hear it hasn't changed.

Anonymous said...

I've eaten at Hinode a few times now and have really enjoyed the experience. The modern decor and furnishings are refreshing in a sea of Frederick restaurants not attentive to their atmosphere. The bento box is an amazing deal and has a great variety; I order the sashimi version. Wait staff is very friendly and helpful! I've never been to Hinode when it's busy, so I'm not certain about the slow service.