Monday, June 25, 2012
Hinomaru - A Taste of Japan at Last!
I'm so happy that at last, I've found a little slice of Tokyo right here in Astoria. The locale of this ingenious little Japanese haven isn't a surprise, but it's taken me a little while to get there, so I've been missing out on its enlightening cuisine. So...the place I speak of is no other than the newly opened Hinomaru Ramen Shop in the Ditmars neighborhood, not far from Watawa, another Astoria-Japanese staple. Even though I didn't fully tap into their cuisine this time, I had a little taste that certainly whet my appetite and curiosity for more.
Located in a heavily trafficked area of Ditmars, Hinomaru is positioned perfectly for the lunch and the dinner crowd. In fact, it's super convenient to get to from the train, so a lot of people may just be stopping in on their way home from work.
The dining room is spacious and casual - there's a blackboard to your immediate left, announcing the day's specials and a large open kitchen towards the back. There's about 30 or so seats up front, both with small 2 person tables with low stool seating or others fit for slightly larger groups. I like that there's another section to the dining room all the way in the back of the space, which allows for nice privacy.
I was impressed to see the menu, which consists of Japanese tapas, dumplings and of course many variety of ramen. Even though the latter was tempting, I was just here for a small bite and ordered a pork belly steamed bun. One word...spectacular - here's why:
Pork Belly Steamed Bun - I had high expectations for this little plate, and Hinomaru totally delivered. The bun was as soft and light as can be, with the smoothest exterior. I couldn't imagine what the pork belly would be like (I was thinking it'd be placed into the bun in bigger pieces), but to my surprise, it was finely diced up and dressed with a slightly spicy gingery sauce, along with thin slivers of cucumber, which gave it a clean freshness. It was a great little snack to tide me over before my next meal, and I'd highly recommend it if you're on the go, or simply for an appetizer if you're dining in.
Service and Cost:
I found the staff really cordial and professional, and even though I decided to take out, I didn't have to wait too long, which was nice. Things seem to run efficiently, which is nice to see.
Costs are reasonable and my pork bun was just $4, whereas ramen dishes will cost you anywhere between $9-$12.
Hinomaru Ramen - 33-18 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria NY 11105
N/Q Train to Ditmars Blvd