Monday, October 22, 2007

Horoki - Part 3

I asked my friends Emmanuel and John to go for dinner on Saturday. Upon Emmanuel's strict regulation, I had to find a place around $25. So Horoki popped into my head immediately as it always cost about that much when I went previously. The fact that the food is fantastic and I gave it rave reviews helped to make it an easy choice.

Emmanuel drove by in his new snazzy Skyline to give John and I a lift. The night was really warm actually and having the sunroof open is just so cool. I love the feeling of the air blowing my hair around.

As I have written in my previous posts, Horoki is a tiny restaurant in Liverpool Street. This year, they have made it from the Cheap Eats guide last year into the Good Food Guide this year with a score of 13. Well the previous two times, I gave it a score of 16. I'm much more lenient with my scoring. However, I think I will have to change my score this time. More on that later.

When I eat here, there are two must have dishes. The first is the Daikon Sashimi Salad. The second is the Beef Tartar. I didn't bother taking more photos of it since it still looks the same. To read about those dishes, go to the previous post I did. I can happily say that both dishes are still fantastic, with the Daikon Sashimi Salad being my favourite salad of all time so far. The Beef Tartar is also the best I have ever tasted. Maybe when I try some Wagyu Tartar I might change my mind. But for now, both these dishes are brilliant in their simplicity and stunning flavours. Even John and Emmanuel were pleasantly surprised how good the dishes were. They both were a bit icky about eating raw beef, but I kept insisting. In the end, they both liked it.

We then got some "mains" dishes. Horoki doesn't really do mains, just a lot of tiny dishes, but these were closer to mains than entrees. Emmanuel chose the Duck with Eggplant. I wasn't a huge fan of this last time, but it was better this time. The duck tasted better and I knew not to dip too much of the sauce, which was quite sweet.

John chose the Lamb Cutlets, which is new to the menu. The cutlets were excellent, so soft and dripped with a tangy sweet sauce. The mash was really good too, very creamy.

I chose the Horoki Fried Rice as I really like their "Nasi Goreng" style fried rice. This is better than any Nasi Goreng I've tasted though, even the Nasi Goreng I had in Malaysia. I love the spicy flavours and the chunks of meat they put in that add a lot of flavour. Even the prawn cracker adds another dimension to the flavours.

Finally, we all agreed on the Japanese Style Spaghetti. This place is really not a traditional Japanese restaurant. It's all about fusion food here, with everything having a slight touch of Japanese. The spaghetti too was good, nice and firm with lots of meat and vegetables.

Service as usual was good. The authentic Japanese waitresses were polite and efficient. Even when Emmanuel asked one of them if she was related to the other waitress, she just smiled and said that quite a few customers thought that.

So what was wrong this time. The food is still fantastic and there's even more choice now. My problem is that since they have now made the Good Food Guide, they have jacked up all their prices. I didn't pay too much attention to the prices when I was looking at the menu. When we got the bill and it was $40 each, I was a little surprised. As John said, that's still a good price, but compared to previously, it's not as good value. I dug deep into my memory and was sure most things was cheaper. When I got home and looked at photos of the menu I had taken previously, it affirmed that indeed the prices had gone up. And quite dramatically too. With most things going up between $2-$4. That's like 20-40% for some dishes that used to cost $10. Even the sake we had gone up $1 from last time. So this time, I'm going to drop their score by 1 point as it's not as good value for money. For this higher price, they are now competing with other Japanese restaurants for my business. Previously they would have been a no-brainer due to the exceptional value.

Overall Rating: 15/20, Food and service still excellent but not as good value for money anymore.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

After dinner, we dropped by the ever popular Koko Black for some drinks and dessert. We all got the Ice Chocolate, which was delcious but so decadantly rich that by the end of it, we were moaning a bit. We also shared the Belgian Spoil. Despite my insistance that "I'm really full and can't eat anymore", I ended up eating most of the Spoil. It was all really rich and gooooooood.

Just as an aide, here are some other interesting things. I really liked how eerie this church looked at night so I took a photo. I wonder if the Rose Line and Cryptex are inside this church???

Last but not least, here is photographic proof of Stalactites closed. Stalactites being closed is a real rarity. They are open 24 hours a day and never close throughout the year. I think I read an article somewhere that said they have only closed like 4 times in the past 20 years. I've only ever seen them closed once when they were doing renovations. This time, I'm not sure why they are closed, but I snapped a photo anyway. This is the gastronomic equivalent of taking a photo of Loch Ness or Big Foot hahahaha.

Horoki Casual Dining Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. Tan

    That friend of yours Emmanuel sounds like such a cheapskate. Can't he afford an expensive meal with his six figure salary, 2 cars and 3 houses.


  2. Hi Thanh,

    Yes, I went past Stalactites the other night and realised it was closed to- so shocked were we that we pulled over to see what was wrong. They had black plastic drapped all over and I wondered if it had anything to do with that article recently in the Age about the grek precinct being on the slide. Anyhow, there was a small sign saying it was closed for renovations- I hope it opens again soon. I miss this landmark!

  3. M's, my friend Emmanuel (who's Greek) and I were just talking about the same thing. The Greek precinct is really on the slide. It's so quiet on Lonsdale now and not much atmosphere at all. Compare that to Lygon and it's bursting at the seams there. Similarly Glen Waverley and Box Hill are so crowded on weekends now.

    I hope some new life is breathed into Lonsdale so that it becomes a vibrant cultural street again.

  4. Tech,

    I like how you can call fat boy Do TAN.

    That's a good name.

  5. Anonymous, it's Mr Tan to you. Now go and drink yourself silly.

  6. Hey Thanh, the folks at Blogger must have been reading our comment-conversation the other day! I'm just noticing a new checkbox that says, "Email follow-up comments to [my email address]".

    I'm gonna tick it right now... :-D

  7. Cindy, I know what you mean. I just noticed it yesterday too. I'm going to try it out as well and see how it goes.

    Let me know if you get this reply as then we will know it works.

  8. Yep - it works! I received my comment and your follow-up as separate emails. I expect to continue receiving comments made to this post, but not other ones in your blog.

  9. I totally agree with you about Horoki. It is one of my fav restaurant and last time I visited, I was delighted with new additions on the menu and was quite surprised when the bill came to $140.00 for two. (with warm sake, a rally smooth one) I never consider Horoki to the cheap side though due to its serving size (why woulnd't they make the steak tartare bigger... yumm)
    I think I would still visit Horoki quite often until something similar open up. :)

  10. Cindy, now we can really follow a discussion that interests us without having to try and remember every comment we ever posted.

    Glamourette, I agree that the sizes are really small. The previous times I went though, it still cost about $30 each person, which I think is very resonable. What bugs me a little is that the same dishes haven't changed at all but have gone up in price just because they made the Good Food Guide this year I suspect.

    I couldn't agree more with you about the Steak Tartar. Theirs is definitely the best I've tried, but definitely way too small. I'm thinking about it now as I type, mmmmmmm.

    Doesn't the addition of the quail egg also add a different flavour to it. Usually people use chicken eggs, which is fine, but the quail egg adds another dimension of flavours. I went and bought some quail eggs and tried to replicate the dish at home. It was good, but I can't get the sauce like they do. A friend working at a Japanese restaurant told me that you use one part white vinegar to one part soy sauce with some whole garlic cloves and you let them soak at least overnight. It produces a very nice sauce but not as good as Horoki's.

  11. Stuck up fake bitch10/29/2007 9:41 AM

    Thank You....

  12. Thanh, were three of you sitting at the table against the wall in Horoki? I noticed 3 happening looking dudes there, and I think Mr Stickyfingers and I were there the same night - LOL! We were sitting at the counter in front of the espresso machine near the window.

    I posted too - glad you got a photo of the duck, ours had less sauce, but the photo wasn't great so didn't post it.

  13. Stickyfingers, there was three of us against the table at the wall. We were there on the 20th of Oct to be precise, about 7:30pm to 9:30pm.

    I don't know about happening though. We're engineers and pretty uncool generally.

    I think I do remember a couple near the coffee machine, right up against the wall and facing in towards the rest of the restaurant?

    Your blog has more posts now. I remember looking at it a while back, following a link from Ed's blog post comments. It only had a few posts at the time so I just bookmared it and said I will go back when there are more and read it all at once. I will go through your blog and read it all now.