Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while would probably know that I’ve been to Japan quite a few times. I’m not sure why I keep going back there, even though my relatives and friends warn me about the dangers still lingering after the big Tokyo earthquake in 2011. Yuye and I chose to stay there even though our flight in was one day after the earthquake and this year, we chose Tokyo again as our holiday destination (in between seeing family in Beijing and Shanghai).
There’s just so much to see and eat in Japan that I don’t think it would be enough to spend even a whole year there. But of course, I’m starting to feel a bit more anxious about the radiation still present after hearing some horror stories (some of which I’m sure were created to scare me).
Since I probably won’t be returning to Japan any time soon, the next best thing is to find food in Melbourne that resembles the authentic tastes we came across on our journeys across Japan. On our most recent trip, we went to a restaurant that served Japanese styled pasta dishes. It was such an interesting and delicious blend of flavours (think shimeji mushrooms on lasagne) that I’ve been craving for them ever since we got back. One of the dishes I loved to bits was the spicy mentaiko (cod roe) spaghetti.
It’s not a hard dish to make at home, although cod roe is slightly harder to find here and a lot more expensive than Japan when you find it (imported varieties are available in Japanese supermarkets). So I was overjoyed when I finally found out that Horoki in the city served this dish and the taste was sensational as well.
Winnie had invited me and another friend to Horoki for lunch, but as it turned out we were only given lunch special menus. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to order my long awaited mentaiko pasta, but that worry was quickly dismissed as the waitress handed me the dinner menu upon request.
I must say, if I wasn’t so keen on ordering the pasta, the lunch menu would have been appealing as for $15 you can select 3 small dishes to go with rice or bread and miso soup now comes free with the meal. I have noticed however that the prices have increased by $2 all round which essentially makes it mandatory to order the miso soup (which is $2 by itself).
I totally enjoyed my mentaiko pasta though so I’m glad I ordered this and not the lunch set. Although I was expecting a small serve, I could hardly say what I received was enough as a meal ($15.50 for the pasta). If you’re very hungry, it might be worthwhile to order something else (or order 2 servings of the pasta). The taste really had me though. The sauce was smooth and creamy, the spaghetti was al dente and it had a fair amount of the lovely mentaiko to keep me satisfied. I just love the popping sensation of eating roe.
However, you won’t be able to imagine the price difference of these fresh roe to Japan. Cod roe was only 500yen (roughly $6AUD) at the markets in Tokyo and the same amount would likely cost over $15AUD here. Same goes for salmon roe which we bought a box in Tokyo for 500yen and I saw a box half the size in Melbourne for $24! Shock horror.
Since I was only able to sample one dish from the whole menu that day, I’m keen on returning with a bunch of friends to try the rest of the dinner menu. Horoki serves up some interesting modern Japanese dishes and although small, taste wise the dishes seemed to be quite good. At least I was quite happy with my spicy pasta with cod roe butter.
Question time: Have you ever tried roe? Do you like it?
Horoki Casual Dining Bar
Phone: (03) 9663 2227
19 Liverpool St, Melbourne VIC 3000