Haiku: A Fresh Find
Haiku is a trendy, contemporary pan-Asian Bistro located on Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains. The ambiance is hip and sophisticated, the interior adorned with lovely and subtle Asian-accented décor and dim lights. The reasonably priced menu offers distinctive Asian recipes from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, among other countries in Southeast Asia. The restaurant opened in July 2009 and has three sister locations in Bronxville, Cross River and Woodbury, Long Island.
Upon entering, customers are greeted by young, friendly hosts or hostesses that seat you promptly. If there is a wait, they are quick to let you know. The restaurant is a frequented hotspot on weekends, the majority of customers are in their twenties and thirties. It is also a popular spot for family outings during the early evening hours.
The bar is usually packed by 6:30 on a Friday or Saturday, and can attract happening crowds on any weekday and on Sunday evenings. The noisy crowds can overpower a meaningful conversation; therefore, it is not recommended to bring someone here on a first-date, perhaps a third date. Dine with a group of friends, co-workers or family.
Despite the crowds, you will not feel rushed during your dining experience, even though at times the wait staff may gather close to your table on the main floor. In addition to a lounge upstairs opposite the bar, there is a comfortable lounge downstairs for those that would like a more private and intimate atmosphere, with dimmer light fixtures and its own bar. The sushi bar is upstairs closer to the main dining area. There is also seasonal outdoor seating.
Entrees are mostly traditional with a modern twist and a touch of exoticism. The dishes at Haiku consistently utilize the freshest seasonal ingredients from the land and sea. Recommended dishes include Pad Thai; Asian spicy mango sauce with white meat chicken or jumbo shrimp; all sushi, which is served by the piece, roll, as a combo meal or an entrée, especially Haiku’s version of the California roll made with king crab, and the classic spicy tuna with avocado roll rated “beyond exceptional.” Ask for the day’s fresh fish recommendation. The chef also often creates items for a daily specialty menu. Recommended appetizers include the Grand Marnier prawns, Thai vegetarian spring roll, calamari salad and the outstanding crispy banana shrimp roll. Items that are indicated spicy can be prepared not spicy.
The sushi rolls are presented lovely and are always fresh and tasty. A recommended accompaniment is the seaweed salad. The chef’s special rolls are flavorful and include the White Tiger Roll, Rainbow New York Sky Roll, Unicorn Roll and a riceless roll called the Naruto Roll. These rolls are more expensive than the rolls featured on the menu. Pair your sushi with their satisfactory sake and wine list.
Lunch specials are served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. that come with a choice of soup or salad and rice. Choices include chicken or beef with baby eggplant in a mild basil garlic sauce and a Malaysian style red curry with your choice of shrimp, chicken, beef or vegetables. The sushi bar special runs a half hour longer and comes with a choice of soup or garden salad.
The desserts, though not as outstanding as their entrées, are delicious. The best dessert is a warm molten lava cake served with vanilla ice cream that always satisfies. The dessert portions can be shared between two diners, unless you still have a substantial appetite.
Haiku sets their creative standards above and beyond traditional Japanese, excelling in quality and the overall dining experience.