Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hiro Primo, Tokyo (キッチンストリート)

Hiro can't get a break...from me at least. When I went to his Maru Biru branch (Hiro Centro; good lord, I think I didn't write a post on this!) I found it to be over-priced and under-serviced, but such things are natural for the upper floors of the Maru Birus. Today I tried (again) to continue the campaign to eat under the tracks, was again rejected on the grounds that all the places I haven't tried look crappy (true, true), and ended up on Kitchen Street. Again. Seeing Hiro Primo, I thought, I dunno, let's give it a try. I was prepared to be snippy, but it wasn't bad.

The small space has been decorated in very modern glass 'n' steel fashion with several long, high, shared counters. The stools swivel a bit but are otherwise fixed to the floor. And the air conditioning was unfortunately on a mission to phreeze me and my phood, but that was probably not a problem for anyone else. It had a busy and crowded feel, despite not being that bad.

The two daily specials were already done (12:40), so we settled for a meat sauce and a carbonara (do Italians eat these things?). The meat sauce (not mine) was enlivened with some white beans and looked pretty good (aside from the well-deserved comment on arrival: "That's it?!"). The carbonara featured store-smoked pancetta (probably 'chain smoked' would be better, since they probably smoke it for all five restaurants in one warehouse location) and a lot of cheesy sauce; faintly artificial but not bad. In an odd way, once the flavor built up, the pancetta became slightly cloying. The last few pieces reminded me of, get ready, burnt marshmallow. The chain-baked focaccia was pretty good - bits of fresh-ish rosemary and crunchy salt.

So compared to the closest similar place, Bravo, how does this perform? Definitely tastier, a more stylish but less acomodating environment, and equal to worse cost performance considering the extra 40% price increment (bread surcharge included).

I'd rather be eating a Primo Old Italian from Pal Joey's than eating at Hiro Primo.

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