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Hana Zushi; La Petite France

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Simplicity, harmony, restraint: These Zen ideals along with the paramount virtue of freshness are the guiding stars of Hana Zushi.

Under the careful and skilled hand of master sushi chef Sato, who trained in Japan, the octopus is firm and not chewy with a touch of brine; the sea eel sweet and sliced paper thin; the tuna, generous, uniform and a clear and lively red. Sit at the sushi bar and you can watch the master at work — he's the one in blue. The two window-side tatami tables can also be fun — just be sure to remove your shoes.

Though most people go straight for the maki sushi, narrow strips of raw or marinated fish rolled in vinegar rice and nori, you can't hide a bad cut or poor quality in the chirashi presentation — several slices of various types of fish scattered atop a bed of sushi rice with daikon, wasabi and pickled ginger served in a decorative enamel bowl.

For folks still working on the transition to raw fish, there are plenty of other items on the menu from udon and donburi to tempura and teriyaki. — N.P.

At La Petite France, Chef Paul Ebling has presided over the kitchen for 30 years. It's French and much is traditional, but much also fits our new way of eating.

The extensive regular menu has a fair number of classics, many updated, including their signature dish of sautéed Dover sole. And of course there are escargots, lobster bisque, and onion soup, among a dozen other ways to start ($4.25 - $12.50).

The entrée selection ($17.50 - $29.50) is extensive, almost two dozen between the regular and special menus, from sole to lamb shank. The filet mignon of Virginia bison with shiitake mushrooms and a rich brown sauce was almost fork tender and quite delicious. A grilled tuna steak with traditional Provencal flavorings was also on the mark.

A dinner like this needs a soothing conclusion and there are many desserts ($7.95 - $12.95). The soufflés ($12.95) are a house specialty, but I was perfectly content with a house-made lemon sorbet with fresh blueberries.

The wine list is extensive and interesting, particularly with wines from Chef Paul's native Alsace. If you enjoy good food in splendid surroundings and have never been to La Petite France, go celebrate. — Davis Morton

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