19 Liverpool St
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 9663 2227

Adam and I had been wanting to try Horoki for a while so we made plans to have dinner there tonight. It’s situated in one of Melbourne’s alleyways and it’s a bit of a walk from all the action at Swanston St (especially in my pink heels!) but it’s well worth it. Although Horoki is first and foremost a Japanese joint, most of their dishes have Western elements in it so yes, I guess you could say that it’s a fusion restaurant. Now, even though I know a lot of people hate fusion, I actually find fusion food rather interesting and if done well, can be delicious. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if the food is not REAL Japanese or REAL Italian or whatever, if the flavours work well together, I don’t see why they shouldn’t serve these foods. After all, cooking isn’t about sticking to rules and procedures, I think that it’s got to do with creativity and to be able to pull something special out of a few wtf ingredients is worth commending. And besides, given that Melbourne is so diverse when it comes to people and restaurants, it seems fitting that some of these restaurants should serve remarkable fusion cuisine.

We started off with a tuna carpaccio which, I think, is one of Horoki’s signature dishes. Thinly-cut slices of raw tuna marinate with soy vinaigrette, streaked with mayo and topped with shaved Parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes. I’m sorry about the awful photo (blame my peasant Cybershot). This picture really doesn’t do this dish justice, it was that good.

This was one of the specials – creamy crab dumplings. This reminded me of those Shanghainese dumplings – Xiao Long Bao – where you have the meat and a bit of “soup” inside the dumpling. The “soup” in this dumpling was very creamy, the texture not unlike carbonara sauce. It was very nice!

Korean beef tatare. I’m not sure what made this dish Korean but it was very yum. The quail egg made for great presentation – it made the whole dish look so damn cute that I was reluctant to “ruin” it by eating it! – and also gave it a more delicate flavour than a normal chicken egg would. This dish was great but it doesn’t exactly beat Izakaya Chuji’s yukke in terms of value and taste.

I can’t remember what this dish was called – something-something prawns. If you are at Horoki and see something that looks like “peri-peri” on the menu, then this is what you will get. You get a terracotta dish with eight decent-sized prawn pieces swimming in a broth of garlic, parsley, chilli and melted butter. I’m sure I would’ve consumed my recommended weekly intake of calories just by eating my four prawns and scooping up the melted butter with my bread but damn, it was worth it.

Horoki-style pasta. We were given the choice of a tomato, cream or a Japanese-style sauce. Given that we had already ordered several things that had cream in it, we decided to go for the tomato. This dish was alright enough but I didn’t think it was worth paying $14-odd for because compared to the other stuff we had, it was bland. In fact, it was something that Adam and I could quickly whip up in 5 minutes at home. Will definitely give it a miss next time.
Garlic bread with pesto. I think this one cost $5.50. I know that you can get a soggy roll of garlic bread for about $3 at Pizza Hut or buy a bag of it from the fridge section of your supermarket but I thought Horoki‘s garlic bread was nicely done – crispy without falling apart and the garlic butter had so much flavour. My only vice about it was that they put too much pesto on it.

Soft shell crab with sour cream mayonnaise, yuzu and baby capers. The flavours of the four pieces of crab are tangy with the yuzu marinade but the mayo neutralises its sharpness by making it sweet. Very nice.

I think each dish shown here cost $13-14, apart from the garlic bread which was $5.50. Adam and I both ordered iced tea which brought the bill up to $93.80, which really isn’t too bad given how satisfied we were. I think we paid a similar price for the meal we had at Movida not too long ago, the only difference being that we were happy with our Horoki experience and not-so with Movida. Yes, the main reason why we both liked Horoki was because the food was awesome – it was daring but it delighted whereas most of Movida‘s food just stayed on the mehhh level. Another thing about Horoki is that it isn’t pretentious and doesn’t try too hard. Its settings are humble, its people are friendly and the atmosphere relaxed. Movida, on the other hand, is a bit of a show pony with waiters who are friendly enough but have that I-work-here-therefore-I’m-so-cool attitude.
And getting back to what I said about fusion food too. When you go to a Japanese place like Koko, you’d expect to eat food of very high standards. However, their food will not make you go WOW because you know what to expect and they deliver. At Horoki, on the other hand, you don’t know how the cheese and the tuna will actually taste when combined together so you don’t expect anything. But when you pop a tuna morsel into your mouth, your tongue will taste something very very different – and awesome – and that will make your eyes pop out like a character from a bad anime movie. Highly recommended.
I eat too much.


  1. KeLlY_Siew
    April 12, 2008

    I loved Horoki, haven’t had the chance to visit it again for a while, seems like they have added a lot of new dishes! I can’t wait for my night shift to finish so i can have NORMAL SOCIAL LIFE again!

  2. is_sa
    April 12, 2008

    omg, im so hungry now.  will definitely try this out. time to drag some friends out for dinner. hehehe.

    no, you haven’t turned boring….you’ve turned….OLD! hahahaha only jking. 

  3. icesabre
    April 13, 2008

    Hrmmmmmm fusion… oh well, giving it a try…

  4. peach_water
    April 13, 2008

    damn those photos are making me drool! Hahaha. I wanna go eat Japanese food badly now ๐Ÿ™ Doesnt help either when Im watching a HK documentary on Japanese food from Hokkaido too! ARGH!

    Re: the nissin seafood noodle. It’s not too bad actually, I actually enjoyed it. I expected some sorta kick to it since it had XO sauce in it, but couldnt really taste it?

    Oh, I was actually thinking of doing JD at RMIT [yeah, i know RMIT sux for law, but it was like 50% less than what you expect to pay at melb uni or so!], but I was kinda put off by the fact that it would take me 3 years as opposed to 1.5 years if i do masters in accounting! But hey, it’s very rewarding doing masters coz it’s alot quicker to complete although 2x the workload, possible higher pay, the students doing masters there are alot more mature than the people in undergrad! Alot more hardworking! ๐Ÿ˜€ So, dont be put off ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. […] Horoki. Adam and I went to this little laneway eatery a few years ago and loved it. And when I heard that they also did a special lunch deal, I knew I had to return. $13.90 got you a […]


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