East Hana: A Jersey City Sushi Spot Born During the Pandemic

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Sushi might be one of the ultimate comfort foods. Although the purest form of the dish still remains a somewhat luxury food for aficionados and connoisseurs, it has also become a go-to takeout, dine-in, and comfort food experience that can be found in neighborhood restaurants and grocery stores.  And in Jersey City, East Hana, the newest sushi restaurant downtown that opened in the summer of 2020, has been serving up delicious dishes at its new space. Here’s more about this new sushi restaurant in Jersey City, located at 103 Montgomery Street.

east hana jersey city

{Photo credit: @easthanajc}

According to Warren Rene, East Hana’s owner, the origin story of East Hana is simple. He loves Jersey City. Sushi is popular among local young eaters. And a space near Jersey City downtown happened to free up in late 2019. 

The grand opening was originally scheduled for March 2020, but the global pandemic and the ensuing lockdown put everything on hold until it finally opened its doors on July 4th. 

“We are the first new restaurant that opened in Jersey City during the pandemic!” Warren said proudly.

Running a new business during a pandemic is no easy task, but Warren brushed it off with a “you do what you gotta do” attitude. Nevertheless, a lot of thoughts have been put into the restaurant’s brand positioning and the food itself.

Read More: Best Ramen Spots in Hoboken and Jersey City

There are Japanese restaurants of various calibers, Warren explained, but he wants East Hana to be at the sweet spot that holds the widest appeal — to make sushi and sashimi of high quality but at very reasonable prices. When it comes to food, he stressed the importance of fresh ingredients. “We use fresh fish every day. Never frozen fish. If people like sushi, they can taste the difference.”

The Food 

{Photo credit: @easthanajc}

Even some of the most basic sashimi options taste extremely “clean” — and the sushi rolls are delicious, even after a delivery trip.

The list of house special rolls — “fusion” style overloaded sushi rolls stuffed or topped with raw fish, tempura, and sometimes tropical fruits — reads not dissimilar to those of other sushi restaurants. Warren acknowledges this willingly but is confident in his recipes.  “Food in many Japanese restaurants are very similar,” he said matter-of-factly, “But our secret is the sauce. We make our own condiments and sauces.” Unmentioned but equally noteworthy is the presentation of the dishes, which are a treat to the eyes even in take-out orders. Sushis and rolls are not simply stuffed into the delivery boxes. They are spaced out elegantly, sometimes adorned with plate drawings and colorful decorations. 

east hana

{Photo credit: @easthanajc}

Plentiful as the selections are, the menu is not without focus. Sushi and sashimi dishes take up the lion’s share, and the hot food mainly focuses on ramen. The decision is out of consideration for both kitchen efficiency and the chef’s culinary expertise. 

“Our ramen is heavy and light at the same time,” Warren explained. Heavy because of the richness of the soup base, which is made by simmering chicken bones or tonkotsu {pork bones} for hours; light because of the simplicity of ingredients — only bones, no extra grease or other seasonings. 

See More: Asian-Owned Businesses in Jersey City to Support

“The restaurant business is always tough,” Warrant said clinically. There is plenty to worry about even in normal times. Not to mention food delivery platforms and the impossibility of eating alfresco on cold days.

Talking about these, Warren is upbeat but still modest. “The food is good. The location is good. We are popular among local, young customers. With these, we can survive.”

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Yiwei was born and raised in China. She has lived extensively in Beijing and Hong Kong, before finally settling down in New York. She moved to Hoboken after a few years in Westchester and immediately felt at home here. Two years ago, she left her job at an investment bank to travel the world and explore her interests, and has since then taken on a few freelancing gigs in career coaching, college admission consulting, and writing. When she is not wandering wildly in the streets of Europe, Asia, or Latin America, she can be found sipping an espresso in one of Hoboken's coffee shops or trying out restaurants in Hoboken and Jersey City area.