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“Japanese jewel” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Hino Restaurant - CLOSED

Hino Restaurant
Dining options: Dinner
Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
52 reviews
25 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
“Japanese jewel”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 4, 2013

Don't overlook this place in the newly-trendy Hintonburg area of Ottawa. We dined here almost by accident and were very impressed -- it's easily one of the better meals we've had in a restaurant lately.

Food: Appealing selection of Japanese-themed dishes with a Hino twist. I had the Miso Chicken and can recommend it. Entreés are $13 and up, appetizers $9-ish. The cook/owner impressively created wonderful meals for our group, almost single-handed. Appetizers were very good. Portions were nicely sized: enough but not too much. I cleaned my plate and used the complimentary fresh bread to sop up every delectable drop of sauce.

Drink: limited selection of domestic and Japanese beer, and red/white wine.

Ambiance: subtle decor -- dark walls and black dining tables. Intimate yet open, with large windows looking onto the street, and only a counter separating the kitchen from the dining area. Part of the experience is watching the cook at work!

Service: very friendly and helpful. Expect the food to take a bit longer for busy times because there is just the one cook. A good opportunity for pre-dinner conversation or to enjoy the super-sized cans of Japanese beer. This is not fast food but I would say the wait was not unduly long.

Extras: ample parking in lot immediately east of the restaurant, as well as on both sides of the street. Bathrooms were clean and nicely scented.

This restaurant seems like a rising star. I recommend enjoying it now, while you can still get a table. I will be back.

  • Visited October 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
2 Thank LuckyBarb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

7 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    3
    1
    3
    0
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
78 reviews
77 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Friendly Service”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 29, 2013

I will begin with the good points. The service was friendly. My friend enjoyed her meal and had been before. The wine was good. The meal was also reasonably priced. The presentation was also nice.

I think I may just not like Japanese food so I do not want to taint my review with personal preferences. My food was decent. Again, I am not a huge fan of Japanese food in the first place, and my friend enjoyed her meal.

The service was quite slow with was probably the biggest negative to my experience.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Ann H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
49 reviews
49 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“Hino”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 8, 2013

I had some stuff I had to do in Parkdale the other day and it was nearing lunch time. I made for my "to eat" list in my purse and zeroed in on Hino Restaurant over on Wellington. From all accounts they had some great Japanese that I "just have" to try. I swear...Google this place and you'll find nothing but sunshiny comments with a few disappointments sprinkled in just for fun. But, the majority of people love Hino or the people who didn't just didn't take the time to whine. It is hard to know for certain.

The hype on this place is EPIC. The people who consider themselves "regulars" are loyal beyond belief. I have my favorites too, so I get that. I read up on Hino before I went, owned and operated by Terry Hino; he's in it for the love of food, etc. etc. Every review you read warns you not to "judge a book by its cover" because the front of house appearance isn't as decadent as you may be used to seeing in the greater Ottawa area. I was really expecting to be wowed with the food and dislike the decor when we walked in. And then the worst thing in the world happened....it ended up not hitting either one of those expectations.

We couldn't find a menu online to look at before we went, so it was kind of an ambush moment when she brought us the lunch menu and there were NO appetizers available except 2 soups. I wanted to try the gyoza everyone had been raving about, but when I asked she told me they only make what is on the menu. Bummer sauce... (no that isn't on the menu, but I got a full helping of it anyhow...)

My "look around" time didn't take much time at all, with the open floor concept they had going on you can see everywhere in the place from any table. But the true, sad thing about the interior is that I have seen worse...WAY worse. In Ottawa. So, it was easy for me to relax a bit as I looked around.

We sent in our orders, deciding that we'd just share what we got with the Sprout. I was troubled a bit when I asked her what was popular off her menu and she said "The burgers." In a Japanese place? Was it Kobe beef?? I explained to her that I was a flogger and I was looking for more of an authentic Japanese experience, she recommended the Curry Shrimp with Singapore Noodles. I wasn't going to challenge that, after all...people DO say "Japanese Fusion" when they talk about Hino. The next thing that happened puzzled me to no end. She brought us a basket of sliced white bread and 4 pats of butter...

I frequently bake bread....from all different cultures mind you. This wasn't Japanese pan...lol...this was from Loblaws bakery section; the butter was obviously rancid. I was very disappointed....and starving. Usually for butter to get rancid the oils have to sit exposed to air for quite some time at room temperature, but our butter was solid and cold. What the?? Man, I would have KILLED for some okazu pan right about then. *sigh* I whiled away my time waiting for my entree by looking around and trying to figure out why the place SO LOVED by all was completely empty except for me, my Mister and the Sprout. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the door open. I thought to myself "Oh, good...some action." because I like to watch how other customers are treated as well. But alas, it was the post carrier; in and out like a flash.

We could smell our food being prepared, being that we were the only ones there and only two dishes were being prepared it was easy to pick out the smell of my dish. It smelled like curry all right. It was to the table in a flash when it was done.

It turned out to be better than I thought it was going to be based on the bread and butter situation, but it was just "okay". It didn't "wow" me, I wasn't impressed and it sure didn't endear the place to me. Most of my shrimp were cooked correctly, luckily any that weren't ending up being overdone, not underdone. But I sat there thinking I could have made that at home. The noodles were not rice noodle. This dish tasted like someone scrambled some eggs and tossed them in shrimp flavored ramen noodles with some curry dusted shrimp. Period. I wanted to love the place, but it didn't happen.

When we walked in and I saw the white board on the wall I was excited to eat, I asked the waitress if those were the specials for the day but they weren't. They were the specials for the dinner hour only. Had I been able to see the lunch menu I wouldn't have gone there for lunch. I would have gone next door to the Alpha Soul Cafe and waited until the dinner hour some other night to go to Hino.

It would seem like Hino only shines at night. I'm not exactly sure that I'd go back to give it a second try though based solely on the butter situation. Details are everything with me, when the smallest things are lacking it always makes me wonder what is being left out in the other elements of my experience of the meal. They weren't too fast about making our meal either...and we were the only people there. Our experience just does NOT match what everyone else has had. I'd like to think the chef just had a bad day, but the lunch menu was so sparse on choice of authentic Japanese fare that I am leaning more towards the menu needing a revamp than anything else. The prices were definitely reasonable, but that isn't enough to get me back in the door. Did I "like it"...I didn't hate it; I just felt let down.

If you have had a different, better experience by all means, let me know. Tell what you had, time of day you went...if you remember tell me the day of the week too. I'm trying to figure out why the experiences were SO different between me and.....well, everyone else.

  • Visited April 2012
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank TheFoodnatic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Hino's on Wellington West -- a Neighbourhood Treasure.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 23, 2012

My husband and I were introduced to this restaurant by a friend of its owner/chef, Terry Hino. We've always loved the food, and sitting at the counter watching Terry cook up a storm is one of the great relaxing pleasures of west end Ottawa dining. We were last there on Saturday night en route to a play. The waitress was friendly, efficient, and made sure we were done in time despite the fact that the place was almost packed. Half of them seemed to be regulars -- greeted by name, wave from Terry in the kitchen, settled into "their" table to check out the extensive list of specials on the board. No, you don't go to Hino's for the decor -- but you sure go for the food! It's mostly Japanese/a bit fusion and always excellent. We've been to Japan and love its cuisine; whenever we're missing that and have a real yen (sorry) for that comfy, tasty, authentic food we head for Hino's. Terry's happy to "customize" dishes for you, especially if he's not too busy, or create combos if you can't make up your mind. A surprisingly extensive menu for a one-man-show! This place should be full every night.

  • Visited April 2012
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank CorazonCubano
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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