Hiroko's Place is a comforting, welcoming spot with overstuffed couches, Japanese reading materials, a smiling staff, and a windowed kitchen where you can watch the chefs make all the home cooked meals. The menu is very unlike the Japanese cuisine that most Americans are familiar with and would probably confuse anyone who's only had sushi and hibachi (including myself before I moved to the city).
Instead it's real Japanese comfort food that a few spots in the city are great at introducing us to: try Aburiya Kinnosuke – for the high end, Uminoie – for a great unpredictable place that, unfortunately takes forever (hours actually and the only reason I've yet to recommend it) and Cafe Zaiya for cheap and excellent snacks (the spicy cod roe nori pizza actually makes me miss working in midtown).
Jim tried omurice – the ultimate comfort food for a little kid, even right down to the funny face drawn in ketchup on it – a perfect example of the cheery joy the restaurant exudes. The thin omelet shell opens up to a pillow of ketchup flavored rice and chicken. My dish, a very simple spaghetti, nori and spicy cod roe combo was right up my alley flavor wise, the kind of dish I would make for myself on rainy Sundays all the time if the roe were easier to come by (note to self to find some for my fridge).
You'll really want to give yourself some time to enjoy Hiroko's Place, the home cooked meals take their time (which shows in the quailty) so, sadly clock-wise, it's only barely doable for a lunch hour. The environment too, really spacious and open in start contrast to most bustling spots that cram as many two tops in as possible, begs for?relaxation. It's only been a day between eating there and writing this and I am already craving it.
So I went back and I reordered that amazing dish and Jim got to try what my future brother and law raved about during his trip to Japan a few months ago, the egg salad sandwiches (fried scrambled eggs, mayo and thin cucumber slice with spicy Cheeto type things). As the weather gets crummier there's no way I will not be heading back to try the hamburg rice.
While I wish it was just a little cheaper and quicker for a speedy workday lunch, as a restaurant without those needs, it's truly, truly a wonderful find in the neighborhood.