ABOUT HARUKI EAST
PROVIDENCE -- Restaurateur
Haruki Kibe has been defining Japanese food in
Rhode Island for 17 years at his restaurant, Haruki.
in the space that was Maverick's in Wayland Square, Kibe has opened
a second restaurant that elevates Japanese dining in Rhode Island
to four-star status.
addition to a squad of sushi chefs at the sushi bar, he has hired
the formidable Etsuko Kurosaka in the kitchen. Born in Japan, Kurosaka
spent the last three years in California and many of her dishes
reflect the varied flavors there -- a Japanese-style chile relleno
stuffed with crabmeat, thinly sliced sirloin rolled with cheese
and asparagus, carpaccio-style salmon and tuna, with Japanese salsa
and Balsamic dressing.
decor is upscale and minimalist, yet comfortable, with a chi-chi
bar in one room and a sleek, curved sushi bar lining one side of
the dining area. Walls are bathed in soft greens and blues, with
a large, round, etched-glass window as a focal point.
in Cranston has established a reputation for authenticity, and the
same remains true at the new location. Yet here the menu has been
refined and tweaked, with a contemporary, American edge. There are
fewer selections and no bento boxes. Kibe and Kurosaka interpret
classic Japanese with a flair for the fusion between East and West.
chile relleno is a perfect example of this. When I saw the description
of this classic Mexican stuffed pepper on the menu under hot appetizers,
I thought I had misread something. But there it was -- a mildly
hot Anaheim chile stuffed with feathery shreds of crabmeat and wrapped
in an egg, omelet style.
served this way, especially to enrobe another ingredient such as
rice (or in this case the crabmeat), have become very common in
Japanese cooking. With a spicy remoulade-like sauce, too, it's more
Japanese in preparation than ingredients.
appetizer that fits that description is something called a "volcano."
Here, a sweet, hefty seared scallop rests underneath a tower of
flavor -- from a peppery mayonnaise-inspired sauce to a perfectly
fried, tiny quail egg -- plump and full of rich flavor, dotted with
the saltiness of pretty caviar.
a selection of cooked maki (stuffed, seaweed-wrapped rice rolls)
I winnowed the ample list down to an inside-out roll stuffed with
fleshy shrimp, finely sliced strips of cucumber and bits of buttery,
nutty flavored avocado. On the outside, nestled into the rice, was
colorful masago, the tiny, orange fish eggs. These rolls are almost
impossibly large to eat, but fun to try.
is a term used for pickled things, particularly vegetables. Daikon
(radish) is pickled until it is salty, with a bright yellow color.
Here, its earthy flavor is captured in the rice of a maki roll,
perfect when dipped into tawny soy sauce.
now the waiter had proven himself in spades. Being well-versed in
the depth of Japanese menu selections is, I imagine, difficult for
the average American. But he let us know that he had lived in Japan
for two years. It was a blessing to have him guide us to many items,
such as the ume-shiso, that were unfamiliar.
ume shiso, the Japanese (and Haruki) blend the two most important
qualities of their cuisine: flavor and beauty. Rolled like a cone,
ume shiso is rolled nori (seaweed sheets) wrapped around plum paste
(ume is plum in Japanese), oba (or shiso, a mint-like herb) and
sliced cucumber. It's a sweet-and-sour treat, and meant to be eaten
with your hands, like a wrap.
also brought us a tiny tasting of sesame string beans -- a side
dish on the menu -- that turned out to be one of the tastiest things
I tried all evening. Crunchy, bright-flavored beans are lightly
bathed in a sesame dressing that is nutty and sweet at the same
the sushi craze hit the United States back in the '80s, sushi has
gotten the bulk of the attention given Japanese food in this country.
But there are so many other aspects to this vibrant cusine: teriyaki,
udon (wheat noodle) dishes and donburi (fried foods that usually
are lightly breaded cutlets) as well as tempura, are all on the
menu at Haruki East.
is a must for me, and a benchmark dish as well. In an entree, big,
fleshy, butterfly shrimp are fried in a lacy batter, as are sweet
potatoes, carrots, eggplant and peppers, their crunchy sweetness
balanced by dipping them in a soy-laced sauce.
dessert at Haruki East is a revelation. True, most Japanese restaurants
offer green-tea flavored and ginger flavored ice creams. But here
-- as it is with the rest of the offerings -- the musty sweetness
of the green tea, with its astringent, cleansing after bite, is
head and shoulders above the rest.
menu has many sections, from a la carte sushi to maki and sashimi
entrees. Non-sushi entrees are $13 to $16.50. Sushi entrees are
$14 to $21. sashimi entrees are $18 and $24. Sushi and maki, cooked
and fresh, are $3.50 to $11.50 per order, with usually four to six
in a selection. There are varied specials, such as shitake shrimp
and toasted rice tofu, are $4.25 to $11. Hot and chilled appetizers
are $6 to $14. Desserts are $3.50 to $5.
By MERIDITH FORD
Journal Restaurant Critic