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Horinoya and Sporting House Cafe (Lafayette @ O'keefe) info?

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Horinoya and Sporting House Cafe (Lafayette @ O'keefe) info?

foodmuse | Mar 5, 2004 03:18 PM

Due to the recent death of my faithful automobile, my lunching habits are finally starting to adapt to life in the downtown/CBD area. Sushi was my choice for the day, being the happy nexus of lenten duty and gustatory imperative. Since my usual places are all far too distant to bike to over lunch, I was heading over to Tchops to have hipper-than-thou warehouse district fish at Rock-n-sake, when I slalomed by Horinoya.

I'd been before, when they first opened up, but wasn't impressed enough to alter my Uptowner habits---and i still wouldn't endorse a drive down for lunch, parking and other hassles being what they are---but the food was some of the best i've had in months. The fish was beautifully presented, and more importantly, impeccably fresh. The sashimi lunch came with the usual complement of supporting dishes: a lovely, light miso and the obligatory western salad of shredded iceberg lettuce, with ginger dressing. The main dish was a selection of salmon(3), tuna(3), whitefish(4), yellowtail(4), and octopus(3), all nicely bedded down in nests of shredded daikon and kombu. And there was shiso, lots and lots of shiso! (FYI it's a ambrosial herb that tastes kind of like a mix of basil, mint, and lemongrass. It grows like a weed, and reseeds vigorously, but i could eat it by the bushel, so i don't mind. You can buy plants at the ARC garden Uptown...i don't know why so few sushi bars keep a proper stock of the stuff, but i digress.) The wasabi was not at all overpowering and the ginger, which seemed to be house cured, (not that dyed-pink stuff) was a bit sweeter than my accustomed variety.

Aside from my own food, i kept a close eye on the other dishes that drifted past me. The bento box lunch looked tasty, and as did the myriad forms of fish/seaweed salads (sunomuno, nuta ae, etc.) Also, i caved in to the siren song of novelty and tried an unusual (at least to me) fish called kanpachi. It was to yellowtail what chu-toro is to maguro... a more buttery, succulent slice of fish i can't imagine.

The prices were a bit higher than ninja's or kyoto's...i don't know if that's because of the CBDness of the place, or the superior quality of the ingredients, but all-in-all, $20 for the luncheon sashmi didn't seem that far out of line. My kanpachi excess/extravagance was a pricey 8 bucks for a two-slice serving, but how could the foodmuse resist a new pleasure, i ask?

Now, on to other matters.

In an effort to avoid the worst of the traffic on my way back to the lab, i winded my way through the back-streets of the CBD. Lafayette was not exactly the most direct way to get back to the med center, but it was blessedly free of marauding city busses, hell-bent on crushing me. It was here, tucked away in side alley, that i discovered The Sporting House. The overall theme from the street seems to be bordello-chic (ed. confirmed by the website), which i find generally objectionable, especially when it comes to food. . . certain kinds of commercial carnality simply ought never to mix (also confirmed by the site's menu listings--- catfish crispies AKA "pussy fingers"! and "ho-made" crabcakes? Spare me. I'll give them points for teh Rubensesque). However, the cooking smells that wafted out into the street were quite enticing, and the gentle thrills of music were equally nice. So, the big question: who's been? what's it like? and if i can put aside my reflexive distaste for the theme, will get some good chow?

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