In this special He Said, She Said, we sent a busy couple of two young boys out on a surprise birthday outing for sushi in southern Chester County.
Job: Continuing medical education grant writer
Interests: Running, listening to music, laughing, spending time with my husband and children
Job: Environmental consultant
Interests: Fishing, canoeing, playing with my kids, going to bull fights on acid and skinny skiing
821 W. Baltimore Pike
ERIN: We have been together for 12 years, so nothing really fazes me; he lifted some weights before we left and when I asked if he was going to shower, he said, “phbbbt – no.” It was his birthday and he didn’t smell, so I let it slide (he did shower when we got home). He wore one of my favorite shirts of his – a light-blue, button-down model – and a newsboy hat he got for his birthday.
JOHN: We were both dressed casually but she still looked HOT in her jeans and sweater.
ERIN: I had told him we were going to a restaurant in Kennett Square that we had a gift certificate for because I really wanted to surprise him with going to Sake Hana. We haven’t been out together in months and months (we have 3- and 1-year-old boys), so I wanted it to be a special birthday dinner. I do not eat sushi, but he loves it, so I thought this would be an extra-fun treat for him, especially because he hasn’t stopped talking about the place since the sign went up months ago. I went in the opposite direction from Kennett and told him I needed to hit the ATM … then pulled into the shopping center with Sake Hana and he looked confused. Once I said where we were eating, he seemed excited, but I knew the change in plans had thrown him.
ERIN: We had planned to go to dinner and then swing by Lowe’s, if there was time. I know – we’re pretty crazy. We actually ended up going to dinner at Sake Hana’s, stopping in at Buck’s hunting/fishing store next door to look at sunglasses and fishing reels, and then going to Lowe’s right at closing time for bird seed. So we know how to shake things up.
JOHN: I thought we were going to another restaurant in Kennett Square and knowing that Erin doesn’t eat sushi, Sake Hana was the last place I thought she’d want to go with me. It was a wonderful birthday surprise.
ERIN: We were commenting a lot about the restaurant and the food throughout the meal, talking about the décor, the fun tables, the lighting, etc. We aren’t often out in public after 6 p.m. these days, so it all felt like a novelty and we certainly didn’t feel like we were in a restaurant only miles from our house. I was asking him questions about sushi and he was drawing comparisons between his favorite sushi places and Sake Hana. A few texts with the babysitter assured us the boys got off to bed with no problems, so we didn’t have to focus on that.
JOHN: We talked about our day and then talked about what looked good to you on the menu. I was looking forward to trying the fluke sashimi and we discussed what things would be good for her to try as her first sushi experience. It was great to converse without being interrupted mid-sentence every two minutes because our 3-year-old wants our attention.
ERIN: Sake Hana just opened in Avondale on March 1 and is a Japanese restaurant. We learned from our waiter that the owners are two brothers who have a successful restaurant in Lancaster and decided to branch into this area at the suggestion of a customer. I am so glad they did because there really is limited Asian cuisine around here. Everything in the restaurant was new and felt fresh and deliberately chosen yet perfectly fitting.
JOHN: The atmosphere was really cool, the lighting was nice, it wasn’t too loud and was very clean. We were led around the dining room to a row of sunken tables with built in steps and platform seating and oversized individual cushions. I liked the footwear options. We were to take our shoes off and put on geta (are a form of traditional Chinese footwear also adopted by Japan that resemble both clogs and flip-flops) with Mickey Mouse heads on them! We were cracking up at a businessman eating nearby with his wife and daughter who shuffled past us in geta and socks to get to the bathroom. It was awesome.
ERIN: In a word: amazing. We felt very special. Our waiter, George, was extremely attentive, knowledgeable about the food and enthusiastic about answering our questions. He was very patient and explained anything we asked about, whether it was the food, the owners, his background, etc. He asked John about the ingredients he enjoys in sushi and had the chefs make something just for him. He was patient with my lack of knowledge about sushi and made excellent suggestions for things I could try.
JOHN: George was attentive, knowledgeable and we had fun talking with him. They all sang “Happy Birthday” to me and they were all great singers, too!
ERIN: I stuck with Captain and Coke and John tried a Japanese beer. I, however, got two drinks and felt the Captain and Coke complemented the cuisine well.
JOHN: They had a great import beer selection and Dogfish 60 IPA, but I decided to try the Asahi, a dark Japanese beer. I really enjoyed it but only got one because I didn’t want to take away from enjoying the sushi.
ERIN: The manager, William, suggested we snack on edamame to start. I was picturing the edamame I have tried to make at home, so was less than excited; however, when it came out and we tried it, we were so glad we did. Served warm with coarse salt sprinkled over the pods, it was the perfect finger food to just pop the beans in your mouth. It totally reminded me of having peanuts at a bar, or chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant. Delish.
I tried a mix of tempura vegetable rolls. My favorite was the toro. Then I also tried a green paradise roll, which comes with avocado, mango, etc. It had a smooth taste and texture. I also tried a sweet potato roll, which was my favorite, dipped in tempura sauce. I also ordered grilled salmon in a ginger garlic sauce with a little heat. The portion was so large that you could absolutely take it home for a second meal, or split it. The salmon was cooked perfectly, with just a hint of carmelization to offer a yielding crunch on some bites. It was served on a bed of wilted spinach and served with white rice sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
JOHN: All of the food was wonderful, fresh, creative, presented well and was filling. Erin experimented with some veggie sushi rolls and they made me custom rolls based on my fish preferences. They were all excellent and even larger than other rolls I’ve had. The tempura was tasty, the fluke was presented like a flower and was light and delicious.
ERIN: Of course – you don’t stay together for 12 years if there is no chemistry. But we know each other so well that it’s an easy exchange when we get a chance to be out together; it was a relaxed evening.
JOHN: There is always chemistry with us — bow chica wow-wow.
DID YOU EXCHANGE NUMBERS?
ERIN: I have more than his number.
JOHN: We are now friends on Facebook.
WAS IT A MATCH?
ERIN: On both parts – the restaurant and the handsome guy.
JOHN: Jury is still out, but I’m hopeful.
WAS THERE A KISS?
ERIN: Sake-it to me, baby!
JOHN: Again, bow chica wow-wow.
WILL THERE BE A SECOND DATE?
ERIN: Oh, man – if we are blessed with coordinating babysitting again, there will absolutely be another date.
JOHN: Definitely — hopefully back to Sake Hana.
HOW DID YOU LEAVE IT?
ERIN: I said that I would share my leftover salmon with him the next night for dinner. THAT is love.
JOHN: I left the restaurant full, and left the date wanting more.