Haru: Overpriced Sushi for the Masses
There are really only two reasons for why you should ever end up at Haru: 1) you’re hosting a business lunch that needs name-brand recognition, high prices, and space for groups or 2) you’re a tourist and might not know better.
If you work in finance in New York, you’re probably intimately familiar with Haru – a favorite for business lunchers in midtown and the financial district alike, this mass-market but ‘upscale’ sushi chain offers reliably average Japanese food in a clean, contemporary, and slightly showy environment. The menu is a greatest hits anthology of ‘modern’ Americanized Japanese food – think: basic sushi rolls, rock shrimp tempura, yakitori, shumai, spring rolls, fried calamari, chilean sea bass or black cod, and chicken teriyaki. None of the food is bad, none of the food is remarkable.
In a city with a sushi den on every corner, Haru blatantly overcharges for average cuisine (read: $15-18 for ‘special sushi rolls’ and $20 for shrimp/vegetable tempura). The sushi is good yet by no means the freshest; the entrees lack inspiration; the appetizers please bland palates but not much else. Haru has made sushi mass-market popular cuisine with little finesse. It is made to accommodate the lowest common denominator in diners (hence, the popularity with business groups seeking anything that will please all tastes).
Unless you have a very good reason for dining at Haru (like a lunch with clients from out-of-town or a large private event or a birthday party with upwards of 15 people), try some of the other wonderful and innovative sushi spots in the city like Tomoe, Jewel Bako, Soto, Sushi Yasuda, Sushi-Ann, or Yama on Carmine. Even some of the big box Japanese eateries like Nobu and Megu offer fresher fish, finer cuisine, and more original fare. Consider Haru a fallback, a “in a desperate situation” sort of place that will always be there, sparkling and schmancy, for you in your time of need.