I’m trying hard to be good to my bod this week, which means fewer deep-fried foods, and (siiigh), fewer sweets.  I’ve been drinking my tea, consuming way too many cough drops, and craving very particular foods.  Yesterday was gorgeous, so I walked and transited to Terra Nova Plaza at the corner of Westminster Highway and No. 1 Road.  It’s the complex that Pisces is in, and while I was there the last time (eating fish and chips and butter chicken) I noticed a Japanese restaurant called Hananoki.  Yesterday I gave it a try.

Hananoki is a large, bright, and new-looking space; it wasn’t too busy when I was there, but I was eating a rather late lunch.  I took ages to decide what to eat; I saw other diners having bento boxes, and while they looked like a good deal, I couldn’t muster the appetite for tempura or sashimi.  Like I said, my appetite’s a bit wonky, so forgive me for only ordering one roll!

I decided on the Ebi Sunomono Salad ($4.50), the Asari Miso Soup ($5.95), and the Imperial Roll ($10.95).

The soup and salad were just what I wanted.  If you’ve never had ebi sunomono before, I’d suggest trying it while the sun’s still out – it’s a cold dish that, at least in my opinion, is especially good during the summer.

It’s made by marinating prawns or shrimp, thinly-sliced cucumber, lemon, and cooked rice noodles in rice wine vinegar that’s been sweetened with sugar.  It’s light, healthy, and refreshing, and the noodles taste almost pickled.  I loved Hananoki’s version.  Does anyone have any tips for making it at home?

The Asari was an amped-up version of a basic miso soup; it had seaweed, mushrooms, small cubes of soft tofu, fish cakes, and clams.

Sometimes I find miso soup to be too salty, but this broth was just right.  The clams were perfectly cooked, too.

The Imperial Roll was a bit of a mis-order, I’m afraid.  I hadn’t realized there was cream cheese in it, and that, in combination with the avocado and a generous squeeze of mayo on top, made the whole thing far too rich for my cold-weary body.

The thinly-sliced mango on top of the roll wasn’t soft enough, either.  If it’s ripe and juicy it’ll part in your mouth like butter, but this was a little tough.

One thing I thought was lacking from Hananoki’s menu was explanations for each of the specialty rolls; there’s photos, but no ingredient explaining what’s in each one, and while you can ask your server, that’s a bit tedious.

Despite my poor choice of ordering, the roll was beautifully presented and easy to eat.  I’ve also been told by several people that this is a great place for takeout, and with Terra Nova Park just nearby, you’ve got the perfect setting for lunch.

When I got home, there was a package waiting for me – my beloved PLENTY cookbook had finally arrived!!  Or, as my Mac’s Photobooth program calls it, “YTNELP.”  This was a book I promised myself an entire year ago, and I finally got around to treating myself.  It’s everything I’d hoped for and more –  time to make roasted eggplant with buttermilk sauce and pomegranates!

While I haven’t had a chance to cook anything out of it yet, I have had a hankering for Irish brown bread.  That’s thanks to The Gouda Life’s Kelly Brisson, who posted a photo of some Brown Butter Sage Soda Bread she made a few weeks ago.  Inspired by her autumnal baking and craving my own bread with butter, I got up this morning and baked some.  I used a recipe posted on browneyedbaker.com, which was adapted from a recipe on David Lebovitz’ blog, which was adapted from Longueville House in County Cork.  Ahhh, the baking chain.

This is truly one of the quickest, easiest breads you can make, and it’s healthy.  I particularly love it spread with butter and drizzled with honey, or toasted and dipped into soup.  Enjoy!

Irish Brown Bread

Yield: 1 loaf

1 cup + 1½ teaspoons whole wheat flour

½ cup + 1½ teaspoons wheat bran, oat bran or wheat germ, or a combination

2 cups all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces

1¼ cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon molasses

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and put it on the center oven rack.

2. Whisk together the whole wheat flour and wheat/oat bran or wheat germ in a large bowl.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the wheat flour mixture and whisk to combine.

4. Add the butter pieces and rub them into small pieces with the flour mixture using your fingers, until as small as possible.

5. Stir in the buttermilk and molasses until the dough is uniformly damp. Turn out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead gently, until the dough forms a smooth ball.

6. Use a sharp serrated knife (or a lame) to slice a cross deeply into the top of the bread, about 1-inch deep. Place the loaf on the hot baking sheet.

7. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until the loaf is firm on top and when you tap the bottom, feels hollow.

8. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about one hour before serving.

Hananoki Japanese Restaurant and Cafe

3679 Westminster Highway, Richmond BC


Cash and cards accepted

Vegetarian options available