19 Liverpool St
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9663 2227
Thanks to exams, I have not been watching much of the World Cup apart from the Aussie matches. Now that I’ve dusted off my last exam for the semester (and hopefully NOT for my degree, God-willing I don’t fail any!), I’m hoping to feast my eyes on some hot soccer players exciting games. Although it will not happen in 2010, a match-up that I would have loved to see would be one involving Italy and Japan, the two countries that have produced some of the world’s finest dishes. Combining the Japanese team’s structured cohesiveness with bursts of brilliant individual performances from the likes of Nakata with the Italians’ flair for theatrics (hahaha sorry, it had to be said!), a cuisine that married both cultures together would always be one that excited the tastebuds.
Enter 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 choice of three dishes from a list of ten, plus your choice of either rice or ciabatta – sounded good to me! I chose:
-Spicy prawn and avocado sushi roll: I must admit, this wasn’t the best sushi I’ve ever had. While all the ingredients were fresh, I thought the flavours were somewhat bland and the addition of capsicum pieces was just a bit too bizarre for me. You know when the sushi is lacking something when you eat all the gari (pickled ginger) on your plate.
-Tofu and tuna salad: the highlight of the meal. Seriously, this wonderfully fresh salad was so awesome that I could eat this every day and not get sick of it. Fresh silken tofu + slivers of cooked tuna + chopped cherry tomatoes + daikon + salad greens mixed by a thick sesame-miso dressing = a WIN combination.
-Horoki-style braised Hamburg steak: served with mashed potato and steamed vegies. This was advertised as being served with a ‘rich tomato sauce and cream.’ I could certainly taste the tomato but not the cream. I did like the Hamburg steak though, it was soft and pulled apart easily – reminded me of my mum’s rendition of the Hamburg steak which she cooks in a Indo-Dutch-style stew consisting of soy sauce and Maggi sauce (oi, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!).
Lunch was good for what I paid for – I wasn’t full but I wasn’t left hungry either – but I definitely prefer dinner at Horoki as they serve much more interesting food as you may have read from my other Horoki post. For a more recent write-up though, please read on…
So Shirley and I were planning to have dinner at Aka Tombo one Monday night, only to find that the place was closed when we arrived (for no apparent reason) so we decided to head right next door to Horoki. With our butts plonked on the bar stools and drinks in our hands (an apple iced tea for myself), we ordered a selection of dishes to share.
Even though Shirley hates raw things, I made her try some of the tuna carpaccio ($14.80) – haha, yeah I’m mean. It was as good as I remember, each fresh slice of raw tuna was covered with an amazing dressing of light soy and mayonnaise, sprinkled with grated parmesan and crowned with cherry tomato halves.
I’ve heard good things about the daikon and sashimi salad ($14.50) so I made sure I ordered it. Well, the punters were right about the awesomeness of this salad – it was a study of fresh flavours and contrasting textures of the slippery kingfish sashimi and scallops and crunchy shredded daikon and greens that made this refreshing dish work miracles.
On the fried end of the spectrum was the ebi mayo ($14.80), another successful dish. The deep fried prawns were drizzled in a sweet sesame mayo which was sticky to the touch and covered with almonds to balance everything out. I was surprised by how sweet the mayo was, yet it really made the dish sing. The sweetness was offset by the saltiness of the batter which remained crispy the entire time as well as the crunchy bitterness of the almonds.What I also liked about this dish wasa the crisp rice paper ‘plate’ that the prawns were served in – I was breaking bits off and popping them into my mouth between every bite of prawn.
Unfortunately, they were out of garlic octopus that night so we ended up getting the diced Scotch fillet steak ($15) instead. It was served with potatoes aas well as unexpected hints of fresh wasabi which I was initially apprehensive about. Now, I’ve only JUST gotten the hang of wasabi after disliking it for so many years and can only handle a little bit of it at a time. What I liked about the wasabi here was that it was the fresh stuff rather than the rancid packaged stuff that smelt like turps so the taste was more subtle. Nice. It went really well with the sweet onion sauce which covered the beautifully med-rare pieces of steak. Not sure about the addition of bean shoots though – they didn’t really add anything to the dish.
Our final hot dish was the roasted duck breast on eggplant in miso Sauce ($16.80). The sauce was likened to a slightly nutty version of kecap manis which cut through the gamey-ness of the tender duck breasts, the overall taste of the dish being lifted by the smoky roasted eggplant. Yum.
Finally, we decided to share a tiramisu ($7) and a scoop of green tea ice cream (an extra $2). It had a lighter texture than most tiramisu’s I’ve had which was a good thing. A great way to end the night’s proceedings.
We ended up paying around $95 for dinner which is understandably not on the cheap side to a lot of people. I came into Horoki feeling extra ravenous and given the fact that we weren’t being fed a LOT of food, I was surprisingly satisfied to the point where I did not have to go to Maccas for a cheeseburger afterwards. Unless the ten items on Horoki’s lunch menu changes, I’ll most likely seek other places to eat when I feel like fusion food for lunch but I’ll definitely be coming here more often for dinner if I’m not feeling too hungry.