PHOENIX (ARIZONA HIGHWAYS TV) - Near the Melrose District of Seventh and Missouri avenues in Phoenix, the food at Hana Japanese Eatery is a family affair.
"My brother, my mother and my stepfather have been in the culinary world for years and years and years," said owner, Lori Hashimoto.
On the menu, guests can expect a culinary adventure, elegant cuisine and fresh fish in the desert.
"We have octopus. We have surf clam from Boston. We have bluefin tuna from Japan. We get what's called walu, which is a deep-sea white tuna from Hawaii, and we get spot prawns from Canada," said Hashimoto.
She spent 15 years in corporate America but gave it up to work with her parents, who are teaching chefs, and brother Rick, a sushi chef of 29 years.
"It was either become a chef or become a farmer. And I think the chef is a little bit easier," Hashimoto said.
Bringing their heritage and the authentic flavors of Japan to the Valley has been their lifelong dream.
"It's been a lot of fun because what it's brought is multiple generations of our family together, doing different cooking styles, and allowing us to open each other up to different creativity. I wanted the community and Phoenix to be able to see the type of food that we could create for them," said Hashimoto.
Creativity in cooking is one of the most important traditions in Japanese culture.
"This isn't just eating dinner. This is dinner and a show!" said Hashimoto.
The preparation and presentation of food are considered a form of art and expression.
We found out the tradition behind the boat platters, and idea that Lori and Rick borrowed from a childhood memory.
"The boats would come out with an assortment of all kinds of food on it, with little fire, with flame on it. So when we were little, we thought it was the coolest thing and we decided that if we ever opened up a restaurant, that's what we would do," said Hashimoto.
At Hana, their intricate designs are almost too pretty to eat.
Hana has been serving up sexy sushi to a packed house for six years. In fact, Hashimoto says 90% of her customers are regulars.
Not only is it work they enjoy, but it's also work Hashimoto believes here in the Valley, is long overdue.
"What's been really nice is in the last decade, I feel that a lot of small, family-run Japanese restaurants have sprung up. We're one of maybe six in the Valley, in the metropolitan Phoenix area, that are (sic) really bringing back some of the traditional food, with traditional techniques as far as cooking is concerned," said Hashimoto.
And with good food and friends, you'll definitely have a hana of a time, which in Japanese means beautiful.