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PHL

Review

Matthew Williams

Hiroki

$$$$
Written by
Matthew Williams

Sometimes it’s nice to let somebody else take care of you. Even if it’s just for an evening, it feels great to forget about everything you should be worrying about, like filing your taxes and making sure the address on your license matches the address where you actually live. How about instead of thinking about all that, you get served some of the best sushi and Japanese food in Philadelphia while simultaneously being pampered like you’re a celebrity’s five-pound pomeranian? That’s what you’ll be in for at Hiroki, a small omakase-only spot in Fishtown.

Since there’s only one option for dinner, a 9-course omakase that’s $135 per person, you’ll only need to make two decisions before you enjoy your night of luxury. The first is whether to sit at the sushi bar or a regular table. At Hiroki, half of the experience is watching the sushi chef up-close slice 10 identical pieces of fatty toro. You’ll want to have a front-row seat at the sushi bar - sitting at a normal table is like paying the same price everyone else does for a Bruce Springsteen concert, but choosing to sit in the nosebleeds and watch him do ”Born To Run” through binoculars. It’s just not worth the cost.

Max Grudzinski

The second and final decision you have to make is whether you want to add the optional $60 sake pairing. You can certainly have a good meal without it, but if you want the full Hiroki experience, we recommend getting the sake pairing - especially since your glass seems to magically refill itself with rice wine every few minutes. At $195 with the pairing, it’s an expensive meal, but it’s not a bad value compared to other fancy omakases in town. At most high-end sushi spots with a preset menu, a “course” really just means one piece of fish. But at Hiroki, each course is broken down into multiple different plates - meaning by the time you leave, you’ll have eaten over 20 different items ranging from a piece of mackerel nigiri to crispy tilefish to miso soup.

Everything you eat at Hiroki will be delicious, like the zensai (appetizer course) which consists of four small bowls, each filled with a few ingredients that can all be eaten in one bite. You might have a quail egg in a soy vinaigrette, and another dish of a pickled bamboo shoot or some cured abalone. The best bite of food, though, is a sweet and tender piece of medium-rare wagyu steak marinated in soy, topped with a sprinkle of sea salt. It’s so good, you almost don’t want them to take your plate away after you’ve finished the last remaining piece of salt on the plate. But as soon as you’re done, your plates are whisked away and seamlessly replaced with something new and just as good.

On any normal night, you could probably have a cup of coffee and go home full and ready for bed. But after the steak, you still get to eat 12 pieces of nigiri that range from thinly-cut snapper to barracuda, all served with a soy wash and dot of wasabi, plus an uni handroll, tamago, miso soup, and fluffy strawberry roll cake for dessert.

During your meal, it really feels like you’re the most important thing in the world. You’re served, fed, and fawned over like a gout-ridden 17th-century king. For a couple of hours, your only responsibility in the world is to eat excellent sushi - at least until you have to go home to change your Brita filter and pick up the dry cleaning.

Food Rundown

Your only choice is the 9-course omakase that begins with four small appetizer bowls and ends with a strawberry shortcake roll. But everything that’s included in the meal, about 20-or-so plates, is excellent. Below are some examples of things you might see.

Max Grudzinski
Zensai
Max Grudzinski
Soy-Marinated Wagyu Steak
Max Grudzinski
Nigiri
Max Grudzinski
Strawberry Roll Cake
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