Review of Era Asian Cuisine / Hinata (6 Bond Street, Great Neck) – CLOSED

Era Asian Cuisine

Decent Asian fare with an impressive all-you-can-eat option

Most all-you-can-eat restaurants are characterized by mediocre-to-poorly prepared food and a literal lack of service, making you go to a trough to collect your own food. Era Asian Cuisine does the impossible: combining high quality food with table service, all at a fixed price.

Rating by steve: 4.5 stars

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Era Asian Cuisine (formerly Hinata) is a sushi restaurant on Bond Street that like most Asian restaurants in Great Neck seems to have jumped on the “Fusion” bandwagon. “Fusion” is another way of saying “whether you’re in the mood for Chinese, Thai, Japanese, or sushi, hopefully you’ll find a dish you like here”.

We came on a Friday night. The restaurant wasn’t easy to find, despite being smack in the middle of Bond Street. The culprit is some very unfortunate signage. The name of the restaurant is hardly visible within a bright orange logo.

Hinata great neck outdoors

I hear that they are in the process of rebranding their restaurant; hopefully the next time they’ll display the name of their restaurant much more prominently.

Inside the restaurant the decor is very simple and understated. There’s an outdoor seating area, a more casual area as you enter with a TV, a more formal area inside with a sushi bar, and on the other side of a dividing wall a kotatsu-style seated Japanese dining. We weren’t offered the chance to sit on the other side of the wall; I suppose you have to request it or book it for an event. We sat in the middle, “more formal” area. There is a lot of room to move around, and the seats were comfortable, high-back leather chairs.

inside hinata restaurant in great neck

If the picture looks dark, it’s not because of my camera. The lighting was very dim, which made for a nice romantic setting. Well, romantic except for the fact that the restaurant was very child-friendly. There were at least 2-3 families with kids who were very, very loud, and they were seated in all areas of the restaurant. I don’t blame the restaurant so much for this, but on the other hand, it would have been nice for them to separate families with kids from couples who were looking for a nice quiet evening.

As for the food, we decided to try one appetizer, one hot entree, and two sushi rolls. Sadly, the appetizer I wanted (duck wraps) was not available.

For our entree, we chose crispy noodles with chicken, a decidedly Chinese-inspired dish.

crispy noodles at hinata

The dish was definitely unique, as the dish is traditionally made with seafood, not grilled chicken. That said, the chicken was grilled perfectly and had a wonderful smoky flavor. The vegetables were very fresh, and the noodles crispy as they should be. My only pet peeve was the sauce, which was extraordinarily salty to the point where it overwhelmed the flavor. Still, we cleaned our plate.

As for the sushi rolls, I asked our server what their most popular rolls are. Without skipping a beat, he said there were two: the “Fantastic Roll” and the “Amazing Tuna Roll”.

This was the “Fantastic Roll”:

fantastic sushi roll at hinata great neck

It consisted of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, avocado, cucumber, and tobiko wrapped in a very unique white seaweed wrap. It came served with a house special sauce, which was sweet and had the consistency of soy sauce paste.

The first thing that struck me was the freshness of the fish. I don’t know if it’s just because we came at a good time or if their fish is always this way, but the fish seems exceptionally fresh, even more so than I’ve experienced at other Great Neck sushi restaurants thus far. The tobiko had a wonderful “snap” to them, as did the cucumber, and the tuna, salmon, and yellowtail had a very delightful chewy texture and a total absence of any fishy smell. The three fishes worked together well.

The second roll he recommended was the Amazing Tuna Roll:

amazing tuna roll great neck

This one really was amazing. If you love tuna, this one has it all. Inside is spicy tuna juxtaposed with something I’ve never seen before: cooked white tuna tempura. It was topped with fresh tuna sashimi with black pepper and scallions sprinkled on it. Again, it came with a special spicy and sweet sauce for dipping, which I preferred to soy sauce.

Overall, I think in the Great Neck sushi wars, Hinata is a dark horse. The other sushi places arguably get more attention, but Hinata definitely holds its own. I would easily place it toward the top of the list. Overall, I’d give Hinata a solid 4 of 5 stars.

UPDATE 1/2012

As I promised, this site won’t be your typical restaurant review site. If I revisit a restaurant and have a different experience, you’ll read about it. And that’s exactly what happened to me at Era Asian Cuisine.

I’ve decided to bump my original review from a 4 to a 4.5 due to four little words they just recently added as an option to their menu: “all you can eat”

The price of the all-you-can-eat option is around $25. That’s comparable to buffets like The Harvest Buffet down the street and the excellent Mizumi in Little Neck. The difference is, the food here is definitely a big step above those establishments, and unlike an all you can eat buffet, you don’t have to go to go through a dehumanizing experience of fighting over the last crab leg with some cranky lady. No, you can dignified, courteous table service as if you’d ordered any other dish on the menu.

Once you tell them you want the all you can eat option, they’ll give you two pieces of paper to choose from. You check off everything you want. Choose carefully, as you have to finish all the food that’s put in front of you!

all you can eat menu 1 at era asian cuisineall you can eat 2 at era asian

Here’s what we ordered:

era asian cuisine hot food

We started with some hot food, which included shumai, tempura, duck spring rolls, and a lobster pizza (yes, that’s real lobster)

Next came the sashimi:

sashimi at new era

I wouldn’t say the sashimi is the absolute freshest I’ve had in Great Neck (that title goes to either Miraku or Matsuya), but on the other hand, it was definitely fresh, and much fresher than what you’d find in a typical sushi buffet.

And then came the rolls:

rolls at new era

The rolls were most definitely a huge cut above what you’d find at sushi buffets; of the same quality of the rolls you’d order from Era Asian Cuisine’s regular menu. We had spicy tuna hand rolls, along with a mango mania roll, fire roll, yummy roll, and I think a Nemo roll.

We were all getting a bit full, but I decided to polish the evening off by asking for a plate of udon noodles and then having some fried ice cream for dessert.

Overall, the food was excellent. If you’re hungry, it is by far the best deal you can get on sushi in Great Neck (this same meal ordered in any other restaurant would easily have cost well into the hundreds of dollars). If you haven’t checked out Hinata/Era Asian Cuisine since they introduced this option to the menu, definitely get over there as soon as you can!

Era Asian Cuisine

4.5 stars of 5
6 Bond Street
Great Neck, NY 11021

(516) 829-3811

Price Range: $$ (Rolls range from $5 to $15, entrees from $15 to $20)
Takes Reservations: Yes

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