Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Haruki East (38 of 50)

Restaurant: Haruki East
Cuisine: Sushi
Price: Average
Score: 38
Would I eat there again: Yes

Haruki East is one of the most popular sushi restaurants in the state. It is tastefully decorated, well-staffed, and able to dependably turn out good Japanese cuisine. It has never blown me away, but considering the very reasonable prices (not much more expensive than say Tokyo) it is well worth visiting.

The Haruki group of restaurants has three locations- the original in Cranston, Haruki East in Wayland Square, and Haruki Express just off Thayer Street. Haruki East has a great curved sushi bar that seats ~15, as well as a front room with the ever popular TV/bar setup.

Service is polite if not effusive, waters are kept refilled, and they do have a fun sake list. We dined on an assortment of maki rolls (yellowtail and scallion were particularly tasty) and an udon soup with tempura shrimp and veggies served on the side. Everything was quite good, but a bit less seasoned than I normally prefer. Perhaps Haruki East is just trying to encourage us to appreciate the more subtle flavors in the dishes, which would be a nice change from the usual technique that restaurants take of hitting you over the head with salty, spicy, sweet, and my personal favorite taste, umami.

All in all, Haruki East is a perfectly fine place to eat. Consistently well-prepared food combined with a thoughtful drink list, attractive decor, and a well-trained staff gives Haruki East a pretty high score. Certainly not my favorite, but a restaurant that will stay a part of my dependable eating-out rotation and one that I would certainly recommend to others.

Haruki East on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Seven Moons (35 of 50)

Restaurant: Seven Moons
Cuisine: East Asian Fusion
Price: Average
Score: 35
Would I eat there again? Yes, occasionally

Seven Moons is the second highest rated restaurant on Urbanspoon Providence.  For a young eatery (less than 2 years), this is quite impressive, and given the deserved reputation of most of the other top ranked restaurants, I felt a need to check out Seven Moons.  
My opinion? Seven Moons is your standard east asian restaurant, backed by some very savvy business folk/restauranteurs.  Many eateries are started because someone loves cooking, or just really wants to own their own shop, or thinks it would be fun.  Some of these succeed and become huge hits (normally those from the first group), but most of them fail.  It seems Seven Moons was started by people that wanted to make money, and make lots of it.  

Seven Moons caters almost ridiculously well to what Rhode Islanders love in a restaurant. It has a huge parking lot, many different seating areas to chose from (all brightly lit), at least 2 bars and 3 TV's, and a gigantic menu.  Variety is the name of the game- with a chapter book menu spanning almost every standard asian dish I can think of.  Sushi, bento boxes, pad thai, noodles, soups, house specials, combo plates, family size options- they have it all.  

Service is polite yet brusque, as if they are always about 2 minutes behind a deadline (given their popularity perhaps they are).  They offer a seating area with traditional low tables that you would normally sit at on cushions cross-legged, yet oddly they cut out the platform under the table, so you actually end up sitting just like you normally would.

The food is pretty good.  We got the Seven Moons antipasto (think a pu pu platter on steroids, minus the fun fire) that included nime chow, shrimp, satay, noodles, chicken wings, crab rangoon and a couple other things for $20.  It was fairly intensive on the fried, but not too greasy, quite flavorful and complemented by five sauces (there's that variety again!).  Tom Yam soup was a bit dull but perfectly acceptable and a generous serving at 24 ounces (also available in 48 and 64 ounce sizes!). 

Seven Moons seems to be wildly successful, and I don't see that changing any time soon.  It wants to serve tons of people pretty decent, standard asian food and it meets that goal perfectly.  It will never be the artisan, unique restaurant that I love and search for, but it does what it wants to do very, very well.

Seven Moons on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rosinha's (34 of 50)

Restaurant: Rosinha's
Cuisine: Portuguese/Cape Verdean
Price: Average/slightly expensive
Would I eat there again? Yes

NOTE: Rosinha's has only been open a couple weeks at this point, so any reviews should be taken with a grain of salt- service and food is probably still in a state of high flux.

The Hope Artiste Village is only in its third year since it started transforming what used to be known as the Hope Webbing mill, and has already grown into the home of quite an impressive array of businesses. Seven Stars Bakery, New Harvest Coffee, The Blackstone, and countless retail and office spaces have made their home in the huge red brick building on Main Street in Pawtucket. The most recent addition is Rosinha's restaurant, featuring a huge dining room that can accommodate both regular restaurant dining and large functions (supposedly up to 200 people). The cuisine claims Portuguese and Cape Verdean roots, a combination that I cannot claim great knowledge of- but one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Located right next to The Blackstone, Rosinha's is a single, huge room with high ceilings. Well positioned drapes and colors give the space a cozy feeling, despite the open enormity of the room. The entire dinner was very enjoyable if somewhat rough. Truly fantastic portuguese olives were served as appetizers next to very dull bread with pre-packed pads of butter. We had a perfectly enjoyable bottle of vino verde (for only $14!!) but it was served at room temp much to the detriment of the first glass (an ice bath was provided which helped out the second half of the bottle). The menu was broken into appetizers, meat, and seafood. Vegetarians might have a bit of a hard time here, but that was not a concern for us. We had a seafood stew that included shrimp, scallops, littleneck clams, mussels, and an entire half lobster for ~$16, and the steak Rosinha (steak covered in a rich sauce with a fried egg on top) (~$17). Both were excellent if a bit on the salty side. There is definitely a chef who knows what he/she is doing in the kitchen.

Service was wonderful and attentive. Water glasses were kept full, extra olives were brought out (did I mention how great they are!), and people were friendly.

Rosinha's is doing a great job for being in their first month of service, and brings some unique flavors and tastes to the Providence food scene. While things could change drastically in the coming months, I would give a hearty recommendation for people to check them out.

Rosinha's on Urbanspoon