With all the new restaurants popping up in Omaha, it’s important to remember the amazing ones that have sustained the test of time. Hiro 88 in West Omaha was the first Asian restaurant I ate at when I moved to Omaha over five years ago and the excitement it ignited then has not dampened today. I am a regular here and have my favorites. However, for this visit, I decided to pretend as if I was a newly landed resident to Omaha and order dishes that I have never tried before. I wanted to experience it all for the first time…again.
I always tell people who don’t eat sushi to try Hiro. You will be amazed at the creations they make – some with even cooked seafood and meats for those hesitant to eat raw fish. However, if you still aren’t a fan of sushi, don’t count Hiro out. Their Asian Fusion menu features dishes from China, Japan, & Korea with a modern flair that brings a fresh and highly appealing taste to diners.
For my foray into items I haven’t tried on the menu, I started with the appetizer of Asian Short Ribs. In speaking with the manager, John Horvatinovich, I learned that both kiwi and pineapple are used in the marinade, along with other “secret” spices and ingredients which marinate the meat for over 24 hours. The taste is amazing. The thinly sliced pieces of beef are light, juicy and full of flavor. The small pieces allow diners to just pop them into their mouths as a great start to a meal.
Because I wanted to experience a world beyond sushi, I ordered off their entrée menu and chose the Sesame Chicken. Sesame Chicken might sound like a Chinese food staple to you, but to me, it’s something that is hardly done right. I find that folks douse it with sauce and lose the taste of the chicken. This wasn’t the case at Hiro. The dish is so light and subtle in its sauce that you get to experience the other flavors in the meat, and not just a bowl of syrupy sauce. It was perfectly fried to a light crispness and ends up tasting fresh and delicate, rather than heavy and soupy.
For those new to sushi, I highly recommend starting with the Husker Roll. It combines tempura beef tenderloin, asparagus, cream cheese, and eel sauce. Having no raw fish in it is a great way to experience the beauty of sushi. The beef tenderloin is tender, yet still with a crunch from the tempura batter, and the combination of cream cheese and eel sauce blends into a sushi roll that practically melts in your mouth.
Then on to the Firecracker Roll. A combination of tempura shrimp, spicy tuna, cucumber and avocado. The result was a spicy but not overpowering taste. Once again, the tempura batter is light and allows the taste of the shrimp to come out. The shrimp and spicy tuna balance perfectly with the creaminess of the avocado and fresh snap of the cucumber. A great sushi roll with a bit of a kick.
The most surprising roll I enjoyed was the Crazy Horse roll. When I saw it on the menu I thought it might be filled with too many things and seem convoluted. I was absolutely wrong. The tuna, salmon, white fish, crab, masago, avocado and cucumber all work together. This is a great roll for those who might not be fans of fish. The tastes from the fish are not overpowering and you find a great combination made that is refreshing and enjoyable.
However, my favorite of the night goes to the Hiro Special Roll. It is a roll full of all my favorite things; tempura shrimp, crab, cucumber, masago, cream cheese, unagi, avocado, and eel sauce. Think that all
sounds crazy to put together? You are wrong. Dead wrong. It is a piece of sushi genius. It mixes the warmth and flavors of the seafood with the freshness and chill of the cheese and avocado. The result is perfect. I could have eaten a dozen more of these.
After finishing the meal, I had a chance to talk again with John Horvatinovich and find out more about where Hiro has been and where it is going, which includes adding a new restaurant in May called Salt, located in the same complex as Hiro, as well as adding a gluten-free menu for patrons and a new line of salad dressings based on the same ones served at the restaurant. John talked about these plans and explained “It is quite amazing to think about this group of restaurants. Between our families, the community and a lot of hard working staff, we are on the cusp of celebrating our 10 year anniversary this year. What better way to celebrate than with the expansion of Hiro 88 in Lincoln and our new concept Salt.”
It’s thrilling to see all the new restaurants opening in Omaha. However, I’m happy to be able to know that there are those restaurants that stand the test of time. Hiro 88 is definitely one of them. With growth and new developments, they have truly figured out the formula to success, a rarity in this industry.
Hiro 88 West
3655 N. 129th
Eagle Run Square
Omaha NE 68164