Find Comfort From the Elusive Spring Inside HanaMichi

In need of a warm culinary hug from all the bipolar weather recently? Impatient to see some blossoms and leaves on the trees already? HanaMichi comforts the senses on all those fronts. And with too many lunch specials on 32nd Street in the $15+ range, Hanamichi’s menu is a sight for sore eyes with several options within ML budget.

Okay, so the photos on the menu drew us in, even more than the price. Who doesn’t like pics, especially in the age of Instagram? But how often does your food actually look like the menu’s perfect depiction? Happily, HanaMichi is one of these rarities.

I attempted the fried shrimp udon for $10, which I saw on a LOT of other tables. It was served in a surprisingly deep conical bowl, actually better than the menu photo. With this bowl you think you’re done, but no. There’s more hiding all the way at the bottom. Don’t need to worry about being hungry after this.

Best part? Huge juicy prawns, perfectly breaded and fried! None of that oil-soaked or under-fried crap from the corner deli. The bowl also had fried tofu strips, watercress, bok choy, roasted seaweed, enoki mushrooms, fish cake, and scallions to play with. Never heard of watercress or bok choy in udon soup, but we’re in Ktown, and I’m not one to complain about extra veggies.

Since the closing of Onya, it’s been tough being an udon purist. I still prefer Udon West, but for Midtown West/South? I’m more than happy to take Hanamichi’s version.

My coworker went for the yakisoba with chicken at $10. Can’t get anymore standard than that. No creative embellishments, just good texture on the noodles, crunchy bean sprouts, sauteed onions and cabbage, finished with pickled pink ginger and bonito flakes waving around. If you want a more interesting version, they have a Soba Mesi, fried rice mixed with the noodles also for $10. I’ve never been a fan of any yakisoba because of the Worcestershire sauce and oiliness, but HanaMichi does a proper rendition which hit the spot for my coworker.

Her yakisoba also came with a decent miso soup on the side, but oddly enough, the portion didn’t even fill up half the bowl. We also couldn’t figure out why a miso soup came with her meal, but not with mine. Maybe any non-soupy order receives a free miso soup? The three banchans (pickled, napa, onion, and radish) seemed like an afterthought that neither of us bothered with. It merely served as a reminder that we’re at a Korean-owned Japanese restaurant.

Many people also ordered the traditional katsu with rice, which had a whole menu page devoted to it. If their tempura is fried this well, the katsu has potential. Definitely enticing enough for a second visit.

Despite all the comfort their food brings, the whimsical decor takes it to another level. Didn’t make it out to DC for the cherry blossoms this weekend and wishing spring would stop playing hard-to-get with New York? Well, get yourself to Hanamichi with its year-round cherry blossom “tree” in their escapist garden interior. You’ll almost forget there’s still no blossoms or leaves outside.

Hana Michi, 28 W 32nd St (btw. B’way+5th). 212-736-5393


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