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Last Friday night my wife, sister-in-law and I wanted sushi so we headed over to Haruno on South Fremont.  I had been there once several years ago.

We didn’t make reservations, the parking lot was full when we arrived and we wondered if we were going to have trouble getting in.   When we spoke to the hostess, she said there was going to be a table opening up soon – so we found a place to sit and waited.  If you need to spend anytime waiting for a table you need to be aware that the seats for waiting are under the big screen TV in the bar.  Smoking is allowed in the bar – and while the ventilation was pretty good – you still get exposed to second hand smoke while you wait.

One thing I noticed on the way into the restaurant was that the little entryway was full of plaques indicating “Best of….” by a variety of organizations (417, News Leader, Springfield Magazine, etc…).  I’m always a bit leery of these awards as I often don’t agree with their selections.

We were seated after a short wait and while we were being led to our table, we noticed quite a few empty tables here and there and we wondered what our wait was all about.  My guess was that they were being held for people with reservations for a later time or they didn’t have enough servers working.

For dinner we decided to order a couple of appetizers and several rolls instead of regular entrées.  For starters we selected egg rolls ($3.95) and spring rolls ($3.95).  Of the two, we liked the egg rolls better as you could taste the filling in them.  The spring rolls were mostly just wonton wrapper.  There was nothing special about either one of them and I wouldn’t order them again.

The sushi order sheet has codes on it that indicate whether the roll is cooked, spicy and/or popular.  We selected the top 3 popular rolls which according to our server are – the “Sex in the City” ($8.95), the “Jurassic Park” ($9.95) and the “Oh, my God” ($13.95).  All were cooked rolls and all spicy except for the “Jurassic Park” roll.

The best roll we had was the “Sex in the City” roll.  I don’t remember what all it had in it – but it was really good with both a sweet and spicy flavor.  It was also the spiciest of the three rolls when you dipped it into the red hot sauce that was layered on the plate.

The next favorite at the table was the “Oh, my God” roll.  It was served in an aluminum foil boat surrounded by flames as it was brought to the table.  Yes, the plate was on fire.  Several of the rolls that are served this way and it is fun to watch them being carried across the dining room.  This roll was also a bit spicy and was very good.

The least favorite was the “Jurassic Park” roll.  I thought it had a fishy taste to it was bland and just wasn’t very exciting compared to the other two.  I wouldn’t get that one again.

We finished up dinner with the crème brulee ($6.50) and a slice of Irish cream chocolate cake ($7).   I thought the portion size of the crème brulee was too small for the $6.50 charge but it tasted good.  The cake was ok – but I didn’t get much Irish cream flavor out of it.  I wouldn’t order either one of those again.

The décor of Haruno has changed significantly since my first visit several years ago.  The inside has been enlarged and transformed into a very dramatic place to eat.  Huge lighting fixtures hang from the ceiling, areas of the restaurant are sectioned off by translucent panels, and colors are dark & warm.  Overall, the look of the place is probably one of the nicest I’ve seen in Springfield.  You would never know that you are in a strip mall once you step inside.

Service on this evening had some low points.  We waited about 5 minutes after being seated before our server showed up to take our drink orders.  Our server was helpful and very nice – but she also disappeared for very long stretches of time.  Twice we got help from other wait staff.  My most frustrating moment was when I decided I couldn’t operate the chopsticks to eat our rolls.  It felt like I waited 10 minutes before I got a glimpse of our server to ask for a fork.  It also took a long time to get settled up with the bill.

So does Haruno have the best sushi in Springfield?  I’m not sure about that but then I don’t have a lot of experience with the cuisine. Two of the three rolls we had were very good.  The rest of the food we ordered wasn’t anything special.  The service issue put a pall on the whole experience however.

3044 S. Fremont Ave – (417) 887-0077

Link to Health Inspections

Link to Website (note: the web site is very out of date)

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