Hazuki Japanese Fusion's chirashi, with finfish and tamago arranged on...

Hazuki Japanese Fusion's chirashi, with finfish and tamago arranged on a platter of rice garnished with pickled vegetables. (Oct. 14, 2013) Credit: Barbara Alper

Hazuki, embedded deep within a Glen Cove strip mall, is that suburban essential: the good, reliable neighborhood Japanese restaurant. It does the genre credit, despite the presence of a few Thai items on its menu and the use of the term "fusion" in its name.

Decorative flourishes are few: A sailfish stuffed and mounted on one wall. A small Buddhist shrine in one corner. At the heart of the place is the sushi bar of chef Tank Gao. So what if Gao's roots are in China, not Japan? What counts is the quality of his raw fish and the presence of seasonal blackboard specials. There's scallop sashimi, pearly, pristine and plated in petal formation. And also amberjack, or kampachi, similar to yellowtail, the buttery slices drizzled with a yuzu-based sauce. Ikura -- big globular salmon eggs -- have just the right salty-sweet pop.

At dinner one night, a gratis appetizer of fried white fish is drizzled with spicy mayonnaise and a sweet soy-based sauce. A lovely gesture. For those who like maki rolls but eschew raw fish, there's a fine dragon roll -- eel, avocado and cucumber -- as well as a similarly well turned out spider roll made with deep-fried soft shell crab. A maki roll combo of spicy tuna, salmon and yellowtail rolls has a gentle kick.

Better yet is Gao's chirashi, a plentiful array of fresh finfish (with the obligatory piece of surimi and cooked shrimp) and tamago (sweet omelet) arranged on a platter of rice garnished with pickled vegetables.

From the kitchen comes a subtly spicy stir-fry of noodles and chicken with vegetables marred only by the intrusion of canned baby corn. Here, soba (buckwheat) noodles are interpreted to mean Chinese egg noodles; even so, the dish succeeds. But a Thai massamun curry with chicken lacks sufficient sauce and tastes more Chinese than Thai. And teriyaki-glazed salmon has spent too long on the grill. On the other hand, tofu teriyaki showcases the creamy soy product in a paper-thin batter fried to a light crackle and drizzled with teriyaki sauce.

Dessert choices don't surprise: fried banana, fried ice cream and mochi ice cream. But surprises -- and dessert -- aren't why you've come to your neighborhood Japanese restaurant. What you seek is freshness, familiarity and friendliness. On all three, Hazuki delivers.

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