ozarks Weekend Published Friday, March 9, 2007  
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Finding Nemo (and a lot more) at Haruno

Haruno offers an ocean's worth of options for the discerning fish fan.

Jennifer Muzinic
For the News-Leader



Some folks splurge on a spa day. Others find a pick-me-up in a new pair of shoes. But when Kathy Gassenberger wants to treat herself, she heads to Haruno.

Kathy's take

Kathy says she started coming to Haruno when the restaurant first opened its doors. And while she's sampled the sushi at other Springfield venues, she always comes back to Haruno — at least once a month.

"We blow our allowance here," she says, laughing.

There's just something special about this restaurant; it's the cleanliness of the place, the professionalism of the staff.

"Some of the servers I think I've seen working here for a long time," Kathy says.

It's also an ideal place to bring friends and family members who aren't so fond of sushi, she notes, because there are a lot of other options on the menu. Kathy, however, sticks to the sushi.

When her daughter Eva joins Kathy for a meal, the two can easily end up going overboard. They've tackled the Haruno's Big Boat ($42), a combination of more than 30 pieces, in the past — and still ordered extras, she says.

But it's the Finding Nemo roll ($8.50) that tops Kathy's list of favorites.

She likes everything about this roll, she says. It's the five different kinds of fish, wrapped in seaweed, then flash-fried and served with two sauces.

"It has a unique taste, and it's pretty," Kathy says.

We didn't stop at one roll, of course. We tried three different kinds of nigiri: unagi, or eel ($3.95, two pieces), kani, or crab ($2.75, two pieces) and hamachi, or yellowtail ($4.50, two pieces). And while Kathy enjoyed all of them, the unagi is probably her favorite nigiri.

The soft-shell crab roll ($7.50) was another standout, Kathy says. Mostly, it's the quality of the crab. She and her husband, Pete, lived in New Orleans for a while, where soft-shell crab is second only to oysters, she says.

"This is one of the only places Pete's found that has really good soft-shell crab," Kathy says.

Only the spicy tuna roll ($4.95) slowed Kathy down — for a second.

"It's a little too spicy for me. I think it was that first bite; I didn't realize the sauce was so hot," she says.

For others, she's quick to point out, the heat level is probably fine. And once she scraped the dollop of red chili sauce off her remaining pieces, she says she thought the roll was good.

Jennifer's turn

I'd heard somewhere that you should eat a piece of sushi in a single bite. Most of the time, that's a manageable (if a bit unattractive) task.

It's an impossible feat with the Finding Nemo roll.

It's all the ingredients that make this roll so large. And even though it's flash-fried, the fish in the center remains raw. I couldn't distinguish every flavor, but did taste tuna, masago (flying fish roe), and the crunch of asparagus. For those who don't mind raw fish, this is an excellent choice, and one I'll certainly be ordering again.

As for the other items we ordered, they also held up to Haruno's reputation for excellent sushi.

And like Kathy, I thought the quality of the soft-shell crab was top-notch.

The dish, restaurant

Owner Young Jun says the Finding Nemo roll isn't the most popular item on the sushi menu, but those who like it really like it. Raw fish, she notes, is not for everyone — and there is white tuna, snapper, salmon, crab, masago and tuna in this roll.

Within the next 30 days, Jun says she hopes to open her second restaurant on Campbell Avenue in downtown Springfield.

Named Kai, the restaurant will offer sushi as well as fine-dining options.



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• GRAPHIC: Haruno's



The "Finding Nemo Roll" is just one of a plethora of reasons that Kathy Gassenberger frequents Haruno.

Jess heugel / News-Leader

Wanna free meal?
Nominate a favorite entree from an area restaurant. We'll select the best and arrange a visit for a reader (without close ties to staff or owners) and reviewer to dine unannounced and compare impressions. E-mail breigel@News-Leader.com or call Becky Reigel at 836-1272.

OUR GUEST

Kathy Gassenberger

Age: 57

Occupation: Retired

Recommended dish: Finding Nemo roll at Haruno

Quote: "We always get the Finding Nemo roll -- and then a ton more."

Just the facts

What: Haruno Japanese Sushibar & Grill

Address: 3044 S. Fremont Ave.

Info: 887-0077 or www.harunosushi.com

Cuisine: Sushi, contemporary Japanese

Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; dinner, 4:30 p.m.-midnight Monday-Saturday

Price range: $6 to $10 for lunch; $10 to $20 for dinner

Accepts: Cash, major credit cards

Reservations: Recommended; required on weekends

Services: Carryout, banquets, catering

Parking: Strip-mall lot

Seating capacity: 100

Family friendly: High chairs, booster seats, child-sized portions available

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Alcohol: Full wine and martini bar

Smoking: Section


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