April 8, 2010
172 Wayland Ave.
Providence, RI 02906
The first day of spring break should be savored. For me that meant a lazy morning of catching up-with chores, correspondence, and on sleep. It also meant a chance to try out the lunch special at Haruki East (which thankfully lasts until 3pm for the ultra lazy), a Japanese restaurant only two blocks from my apartment.
I'd never been to Haruki before, though Rhode Island is home to three Haruki Restaurants. The manager on duty told me that the Cranston restaurant is known for offering "authentic" Japanese dishes, while my neighborhood Haruki offers Japanese fare "with an American kick." I appreciated this insight, though I don't think someone like myself- whose Japanese culinary experience has mostly come in the form of supermarket sushi, droopy rice rolls found smashed between plastic- would be able to tell the difference.
Haruki's lunchtime special offered a variety of meals, perfect for the cash-strapped and indecisive graduate student looking for a lunch out. Most meals come with a small bowl of salty miso soup (mostly broth with tofu, scallion, and seaweed bits). Looking for maximum food variety, I opted for the bento box, a popular Japanese lunch meal that comes in a segemented box with room for several different food items. Unlike the family style of eating at my favorite Southeast and South Asian restaurants, I received my own box of food-no need to share. The largest portion consisted of tempura (battered and fried) seasonal vegetables with a dipping sauce. The box also included gyoza (fried crimped dumplings), a hearty rice roll, fruit, and sesame green beans. My dining partner opted for the Wayland Maki sushi roll with shrimp tempura and seaweed (sans caviar). The manager on duty told us that Haruki East's sushi chefs have been working their magic for over a decade-but wouldn't go into more detail, stating that their techniques and ingredients are top secret.
Unlike other lunch specials, the meal left me pleasantly full, but not over stuffed. Haruki's bamboo painted walls offered a welcome and relaxing change to my normal Saturday routine, and a chance to taste many different Japanese foods in one sitting. The perfect way to start my break.