Elementary school does all it can to make kids into picky eaters. Dried out, old-tasting versions of pork and fish consumed in my childhood left me thinking I didn’t like them for another decade after I’d moved along in my education. So as a child, I stuck to vegetarian sushi. As much as I love a slab of otoro now, I still always like to order a veggie roll to go with it. But usually there are only a few options. Not so at Hama Sushi in Herndon, where vegetarians can feast on the same epic scale as fish lovers.
I was thinking of trying the Veggie Combo, which includes avocado and cucumber rolls as well as six pieces of vegetarian nigiri. I had never seen vegetable nigiri before. I couldn’t even picture it. But my server recommended the even more substantial $22 Madam Butterfly combination plate.
Even before the bento box appeared on my table, I was treated to a tofu-filled bowl of miso soup, cloudy with the soybean paste. The box was a colorful assemblage of dishes both familiar and new to me. The new included a piece of the vegetable nigiri that had piqued my curiosity. It was two long strands of oshinko (pickled radish), bound together atop a finger of rice by a belt of seaweed. I also enjoyed the new-to-me shiitake roll, meaty with marinated mushrooms. I would happily eat a full plate of them.
A mountain of tempura varied in its success. Green beans and a slice of yam were thinly, crisply coated–other veggies, including broccoli, were a bit doughy. I also wasn’t fond of a bland stir fry of mixed vegetables, mostly onions. The box was rounded out with a piece of inari and a veggie roll filled with oshinko, cucumber and spinach, a combo that I hadn’t tried before, perhaps because it turns out spinach can be difficult to chew in a sushi roll. But chew it I did. And the old school bento box brought me back to my elementary school days, complete with a sushi feast that didn’t have a single flake of fish. // 2415 Centreville Road, Herndon
For more foodie news, subscribe to our Food newsletter.