If you’re in the mood to try something new, but not sure what exactly you want, try Hokkaido’s! They offer a wide selection of dishes that range from fresh sushi, piping hot soups, fresh entree’s, and even a large dessert section that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth! This along with their friendly staff will have you coming back for more and the best feature is the fact that their menu consistently offers new dishes all while keeping your tried and true favorites, meaning you’ll never get bored by trying the same thing twice. But don’t take my word for it, stop by and see for yourself!
Much like other hidden gems, Hokkaido’s in Swansea, Illinois doesn’t seem like much upon first glance. However, you would be remiss to not give them a try. The outside is under renovation, which might not make it seem like much when you pull up in their ample parking lot, but once you are inside, you can see all of the hard work that has already been put in to make this one of the most inviting dining establishments in the area.
The first thing you notice before going inside are the steel heat lamps which definitely help to take a bit of the winter chill away before making your way inside through lovely etched glass double doors. Once inside, you immediately notice a lovely stone mosaic behind an ornate steel tree that is dotted with red gems and I must say that the art piece complements the entryway quite nicely. Just beyond this, you are greeted by well-dressed hostesses who waste no time in seating. I requested a table that was just off the main path and was taken directly without fuss which can be a refreshing change from most establishments which can sometimes turn a table request into a bit of an ordeal.
Drink orders were taken promptly, and before sitting with my party, I noticed both the tables and chairs had been refinished recently and that almost everything inside of the restaurant seemed to be new. This lent such a nice quality to the atmosphere that it certainly did not go unnoticed. The restaurant was full without being to capacity and I liked that even with the other patrons, there was still enough space throughout to allow for eating without the feeling of being too close to others.
I have to admit, I was a bit trepidatious of the idea of eating at a buffet given the fact that we did come in at what most would consider a dinner rush, but surprisingly all of the dining utensils and plates were very clean and the food that was on display was all very fresh, to the point of offering copious amounts of steam. Everyone seemed very content with the wide variety of dishes on display. This place truly did seem to have a bit of everything from 3 different types of soup to multiple appetizer and entree selections and even going so far as to offer a Hibachi chef! Personally, I was more interested in the sushi and being concerned with freshness is a commonality among those who enjoy it as well, and this is one place that did not disappoint.
As I glanced around, I saw the sushi in its own section of the dining area as it was being rolled and presented. All of the ingredients that were being used were pulled out of a chilled area and set on display as they were being prepared. I felt confident as I made my selections and the wasabi proved to be equally as fresh.
Throughout our meal, our drinks were never in need of a refill, and any finished plates never lingered long on the edge of our table. Between the attentiveness of the staff, the cleanliness of the restaurant and the dishes that were both fresh and deliciously prepared, all of my companions were in agreement that a return trip in the near future was in order. I’m truly glad I didn’t ‘judge a book by its cover”, and you will be toi if you decide to give this hidden gem a try….
Author: Jessica Kirk-Gregory