Hibino is a sweet little Japanese restaurant on the corner of Henry and Pacific Streets in Cobble Hill. They don’t accept reservations, so on a Friday night, my companions and I waited for a good hour before being seated at this bustling, minimalist (it’s truly clean and simple, as opposed to designed to look clean and simple) neighborhood restaurant.
I knew I had to try Hibino when I learned that they serve obanzai ryori (Kyoto home-style daily side dishes). Having lived in Kyoto for a year, I am always nostalgic for the poetic delicacies that come from the ancient Japanese capital (hence Omen being one of my favorite Japanese restaurants in town). The “obanzai” at Hibino, however, is not traditional Kyoto-style but rather the name used to describe the restaurant’s own daily home-style side dishes. Today the specials were pork kakuni (a thick cut of pork belly stewed in a mixture of soy sauce; mirin, a rice-based Japanese cooking wine; sugar and sake), takoyaki (octopus balls), and a nimono (foods simmered in a seasoned broth) of sliced eringi mushrooms (a type of oyster mushroom) with renkon (lotus root). While these are not considered traditional obanzai, all three dishes were excellent and delicately prepared.