Restaurant of the Week: Le Hana
by: JIM CLARK, Royal Longon, lychee fruit stuffed with Dungeness crab (left), is among the appetizers at Le Hana. The restaurant (below) is located in the still-developing South Waterfront.

Going down to the South Waterfront these days you're never sure if you're going to find tumbleweeds or a fleet of electric cars.

The crane and condo jungle is trying to be Portland's hip new urban living space, but it can feel like you've stumbled onto the empty movie set of a futuristic sci-fi flick - where have all the people gone?

Perhaps the residents have moved on to greener pastures for home flippers; others probably would be more inclined to check out the neighborhood if there was some free parking.

It's still hard enough to get to the South Waterfront (it's not on the way to anywhere), that successful visitors should at least be rewarded by free, convenient spaces.

Le Hana is the sister to another Le Hana located in Hillsboro, and there's a suburban feel to this place as well.

The sunken setting means diners have no sense of being in the city. You really could be anywhere.

The staff has the common Portland friendliness though the pace moves slower than the tram is reaching financial sustainability -don't think you're going to get in and out of there for a quick lunch or dinner. You'll have plenty of time to contemplate the hubris of aerial public transportation planners.

The 'le' in the name is meant to demonstrate the French influence in the kitchen, but most diners will have to look hard to find it (though there are some amusing franco-inspired appetizers - monkfish 'foie' pâté, sea escargots, grilled scallop Napoleon).

The bulk of the lengthy lunch menu is taken up by perfectly acceptable versions of Japanese standards: katsu, teriyaki, udon and yakisoba. There are the typical nigiri offerings for both lunch and dinner and they're as fresh and as prettily arrayed as a regular sushi patron expects.

The sushi chefs also produce a variety of popular and complicated specialty rolls. The eponymous roll has shrimp tempura, crab, cucumber, avocado and Hawaiian ahi poke.

The dinner entrees show the kitchen's range - Cajun spiced ahi, Strawberry Mountain rib eye, rack of lamb - but it's hard to imagine being in the mood for those at what is primarily a sushi restaurant.

- Audrey Van Buskirk

3500 S.W. River Parkway, 503-467-7533,, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday-Sunday, $15-$41

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