Hana Japanese Eatery

Recently we had the chance to eat at a well known establishment in central Phoenix. Hana Japanese Eatery is tucked away into a small strip mall along 7th Avenue.

Thankfully, we go there just in time because the restaurant filled up quickly after we got there. Hana isn’t very large. It’s got about 20 tables in it and the sushi bar. Upon walking into the restaurant, you can tell that this is a local establishment well loved by its patrons. The hostess greeted people with familiarity. Several people were conversing with the sushi chef at the counter.

The menu had a good amount of variety for being such a small place. You can get everything from the standard pieces of nigiri to bowls of filling ramen. Thankfully, Sean and I met up with 2 other friends when we went which meant we got a nice variety of food to try out. Amongst our orders were the
Yakibuta Ramen
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nigiri
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Hana Tempura
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Hana Bento and a couple of their specialty rolls
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The service was actually pretty good even if they were very busy from the moment we walked in. Our teas and waters were kept filled. Food was brought out promptly. Everything was fresh, so you knew that none of our dishes had been sitting in the kitchen for too long. The food was delicious. I got the ramen because bowls of ramen are like chicken noodle soup. They’re soul comforting and this definitely hit the spot. The roasted pork in my soup was very tender and perfectly cooked. The tempura that one of our friends got was crispy with just the smallest coating of tempura batter so that you could still enjoy the vegetable itself. They didn’t just use the standard set of boring vegetables in their tempura. There were a few we actually had to think on what they were. I’ll never turn down a tempura fried carrot again. Sean’s bento box was the perfect amount of food considering the variety that he had. All of us left pleasantly full without being stuffed which is always a plus in my book. The staff also didn’t try to rush us out the door once we were finished and had paid our bill which was great since we wanted to catch up with our friends.

Overall, Hana Japanese Eatery is a great restaurant with good food and good staff. I’m looking forward to getting another chance to eat there.

his name was marvin

I sold my Miata yesterday. That was the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time. I bought my Miata 7 years ago. It was my graduation gift to myself for having slogged through 5 years of getting an engineering degree. I traded in my plasticky Saturn for a 1997 Mazda Miata M-edition. It was a beautiful dark green with a multi-colored fleck in the paint that just shined in the sun. It had a tan top with tan interior, leather seats. It was an awesome car for someone who was still adjusting to not being a student anymore and who actually had a steady full-time job.

The car started off with 49,000 miles from a previous owner who had also owned the car for the other 7 years of its life. Last night, when I signed the title over to the new owners, the mileage was 114,900. The car had been well loved over the 7 years that I had owned it. Sean and I drove off as a new couple in that car. It drove countless miles along back roads in both Alabama and Arizona in the constant search for the newest fun road to drive. We went on drive outs with the Rocket City Miata Club. It spent countless hours being raced around cones in autocrossing. We replaced the clutch and flywheel in that car (our first clutch that we ever replaced!). We learned a lot of our car know-how on that car.

Somewhere along the way, my Miata earned a name. I called him Marvin the Miata (Marvin the Martian was green with a tan Roman-ish top to him). It stuck pretty quickly and I always referred to him as Marvin after that.

Unfortunately, along the way, Marvin quit being a really good daily driver. When I was in Alabama and only drove 3 miles to work it wasn’t a bit deal. When I moved to Arizona and had a 40 mile commute each way, it became a bigger deal. I finally bought the Fit to become my new daily driver but I was insistent on keeping Marvin around so that I still had a sporty car to drive on occasion. Then, Sean needed the Fit for his daily driver and I got the Mini Cooper S. It’s kind of hard to justify keeping a Miata around when you’ve got another sporty car again. We haven’t autocrossed in a while due to Sean’s rather busy school schedule. Marvin just sat in our garage for the most part and for a car to just sit in a garage is a travesty to me. Cars are meant to be driven and enjoyed.

So, late last week Sean posted an ad on Craigslist for the car. We got a response pretty quickly from a family that was looking for a small 2-seater that didn’t have a lot of power but was still fun to drive. It was primarily for the husband, but their 16 year old would be able to drive it every once in a while. It’s nice because with only two seats, teenagers can’t get into too much trouble with it. Last night, we met at a bank. Money was exchanged, a bill of sale was signed and the title was signed over to the new owners. It was so simple. You’d think for something that you love as much as that car that it would be harder, but that’s not always the way it is. So now I don’t own a Miata anymore. I have finally passed him along to a new family that will hopefully love him in time as much as I did.

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Chihuly at Desert Botanical Gardens

This past Thanksgiving weekend, Sean and I took my parents down to the Desert Botanical Gardens to see a Chihuly exhibit. Chihuly is an amazing glass artist from the Seattle area. He’s been doing glass exhibits at botanical gardens around the country for several years. In fact, he did one at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens while we still lived on the east coast and we enjoyed the exhibit a lot. He’s finally come to Phoenix, so we eagerly took the opportunity to go see more of his work. Needless to say, this exhibit didn’t disappoint at all.
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everyone stinks on camelback

Every October, one of my coworkers starts coordinating weekly hikes up Camelback via the Echo Canyon trail. They’re always on Saturday mornings, first thing before the heat of the day kicks in and before college football games start. Seriously. We have die hard college football fans in my office. Anyway, I digress. This Saturday was the first hike, but since Doug was in town and we had our fruit and veggies to pick up, Sean and I opted out. To make up for having opted out of yesterday’s hike, though, we decided to hike up Camelback this morning. Instead of torturing Doug with Echo Canyon, which is an incredibly difficult climb, we decided to try Cholla Trail, which is supposed to be at least a level of difficulty easier.

My comments on Cholla? Don’t ever hike it if you’re afraid of heights or falling. Seriously. I have a fear of falling, that most of the time I can keep under control, but there were a couple spots on the trail where you’re hiking a very narrow ridge and it’s a nasty drop off on both sides that nearly had me in tears. Other than that, it was honestly a pretty good trail. It’s 2.8 miles as opposed to Echo’s 2.2 miles. The first half of the hike is actually pretty mild. It’s a steady incline with a pretty well-defined and laid out trail. The second half of it is where it gets kind of hairy. At that point, there’s no good way to lay out a trail because you’ve hit granite at this point and the only way to get around it is to climb up it. I made it, though. So did Doug and Sean (my resident mountain goat).

Here’s Sean and Doug harassing each other at the top.

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The link will also take you to the other few pictures I snapped along the way or at the summit. Next week? I think I’ll stick to Echo Canyon trail from now on. Oh yeah, you can thank Sean for the title, too. It was a comment he made on the trail today and it was too funny not to share with the world.