hiro japanese cuisine
Story by Shaila Creekmore Photo by Dero Sanford
Eel, squid, sea urchin and octopus are not typical components of traditional southern fare, but when combined with ingredients such as avocado, cucumber or cream cheese and rolled in nori, Jonesboro residents are giving the unusual a try.
Co-owner and manager of Hiro Japanese Cuisine, Dinah Agustin said she and owner Liedy Handoko have been very surprised at the response to their new Jonesboro restaurant.
“The response for sushi has been amazing,” said Agustin. “Jonesboro people actually love sushi more than what you can imagine. People want to try something new here.”
Handoko and Agustin opened Hiro on July 8 on the southwest corner of The Mall at Turtle Creek shopping center. The restaurant is the second for Handoko, who also owns Red Sun Buffet across from Wolfchase Galleria in Memphis.
“In Memphis there is a lot of competition and too many Japanese restaurants,” said Handoko. “We chose to open a restaurant in Jonesboro because it is a growing city and there is not too much competition here. At that time, we only had two other Japanese restaurants here.”
Handoko and Agustin said their location at The Mall at Turtle Creek is a big plus for the business and makes it a convenient location for customers. “Especially during the holiday seasons like Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Before or after shopping at the mall, people like joining us for a delicious Japanese meal,” said Handoko. “The business in Jonesboro is very good and we believe it will be better in the future.”
Hiro offers two primary types of Japanese food, hibachi and sushi, on their menu. Unlike other Japanese restaurants in Jonesboro, however, Hiro has one primary hibachi grill rather than cooking the meals at the table.
“That’s what makes us different from our competition,” said Agustin. “We want to give our customers more privacy with their family, friends and co-workers.
With a private table, our customers don’t have to worry about the smell sticking to their shirt or dress caused by the smoke from the hibachi table. Customers don’t have to wait for other people until the table is full and it saves time especially during the lunch rush hour. Plus, they don’t have to sit with other people they don’t know.”
Hiro has two trained hibachi chefs with 20 years of combined cooking experience. Each hibachi meal is cooked to order and is served with vegetables and fried rice. Steak and chicken is Hiro’s most popular hibachi item, but they also have seafood items such as scallops, shrimp, calamari, salmon and lobster.
Alongside the hibachi grill, Hiro offers a sushi bar with an extensive menu of sushi rolls, nigiri, sashimi and temaki.
“The sushi bar is a must for Hiro’s customers,” said Agustin. “Both the hibachi grill and the sushi bar have an equal and very important part in our restaurant. We are very surprised by how much people here like sushi.”
Hiro has 54 different sushi rolls on its menu along with specials that are offered at various times through the year. One of their most popular rolls is the Hiro Roll that has spicy crab, cream cheese and avocado topped with shrimp avocado, masago, tobiko and Hiro sauce. Agustin said the locally named ASU roll is also a popular one among guests with cooked salmon, cream cheese, crunchy toppings with avocado, honey and wasabi sauce. A few more locally named items include the Jonesboro roll, Arkansas roll, Red Wolves roll and Turtle Creek roll.
For the more discerning sushi eater, Hiro offers nigiri and sashimi with both cooked and uncooked choices on the menu. A few of the 22 fresh seafood selections include salmon, octopus, red surf clam, crab, tuna, red snapper and conch.
“A lot of people that like to try new things sit at the sushi bar so that they can talk to the chef about what they would like to try,” said Agustin.
To complete the meal, Hiro offers three flavors of ice cream and a Hiro favorite, tempura ice cream. Two other tempura desserts include cheesecake tempura and banana tempura with vanilla ice cream.
“A dessert I think people should really try is the strawnana. It’s a sushi dessert with fried banana and cream cheese rolled with soy paper and topped with sliced strawberry.”
Hiro Japanese Cuisine, 3006-B Highland Drive, is open for lunch Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., for dinner Mon.-Thurs., 5-9 p.m. and Fri.-Sat. 5-10 p.m., and on Sun., noon-9 p.m. For more information, call 268-6622.