Living in Vermont, there isn’t an abundance of Asian food, but the places that do exist are phenomenal. In this taste test, we compared Hana and Koto on the following:
Beef negimaki, chicken katsu, california roll, shrimp dumplings, miso soup, salad with ginger dressing, and Spicy Girl maki.
Located in the Blue Mall plaza, it’s easy to overlook Hana. We tried it one day when Koto was busy, and didn’t notice any quality or real price difference between the two (hence this taste test to confirm our hypothesis).
Bento Box (includes miso soup, house salad, shrimp dumplings, California roll, Beef Negimaki, Chicken Katsu, and fruit) $22.95
Spicy Girl Roll $13.95
Bento Box (includes miso soup, house salad, shrimp dumplings, California roll, Beef Negimaki, and Chicken Katsu) $25.00
Spicy Girl Roll $15.50
Miso Soup – A lighter, sweeter miso than we are used to, but not in a bad way. Erik preferred this Miso.
Salad – This salad was very classic, had cherry tomatoes, and came with an orange peanut dressing. It was not bad, but also pretty forgettable and definitely not the star of the show.
Spicy Girl Roll – This maki had an incredible sauce and was Erik’s preferred Maki. The ginger was also sweeter.
California Roll – Hana’s California Roll had sesame seeds on the outside and more veggie flavor. Kayla preferred this California Roll.
Shrimp Dumplings – These shrimp dumplings’ filling was more uniform in texture but the sauce they were in was not as interesting as Koto’s. Erik preferred these to Koto’s.
Chicken Katsu – Hana’s Chicken Katsu was amazingly crispy, and the meat was not dry at all. The sauce, however, was very sweet and didn’t have the depth of flavor that we were expecting a katsu sauce to have.
Beef Negimaki – If you like flame-broiled, charred negimaki, this is the one for you. It personally was a little too charred for our taste. There were also no onions, which we really like with our beef negimaki.
Miso Soup – The typical depth of flavor and tang of miso that we are used to. Kayla preferred this Miso.
Salad – This salad had cut tomato and came with a ginger dressing. By far, both Erik and Kayla preferred both the salad and the dressing (we later ordered an entire quart of the dressing).
Spicy Girl Roll – This Maki had a very fresh tuna taste and was Kayla’s preferred Maki. The ginger was spicier.
California Roll – Koto’s California Roll had a very sticky outer coating of rice and more hearty taste. Erik preferred this California Roll.
Shrimp Dumplings – The filling of these shrimp dumplings was comprised of bigger chunks of shrimp meat. The sauce was rich and had lots of body. Kayla preferred these to Hana’s.
Chicken Katsu – Koto’s Chicken Katsu was not as crispy and the meat was not as flavorful. However, their katsu sauce was rich, tangy, and bold. We loved pairing the Hana katsu with Koto’s katsu sauce.
Beef Negimaki – This beef negimaki was tightly wrapped and perfectly cooked, served over a nice bed of onions. We unanimously preferred this one.
The results are in, and the two restaurants are neck-and-neck. What does this mean? That they are both amazing, and it really comes down to personal preference. Across the board, Hana seemed to serve sweeter dishes, whereas Koto served more deep flavors. We ultimately decided that we prefer Koto, and it really came down to the salad dressing (if you’ve not tried Koto’s salad dressing, you are SERIOUSLY missing out!) and the beef negimaki. We really hope you’ll give both a try and support them through this trying COVID time so that once we establish a new normal, both of these restaurants are still able to serve their amazing food!