There's something great to be said for a well-balanced lunch. That delicate association between salt and sweet, tangy sharp and bland, cruspy and soft -- the more you put on each side of the see-saw of the tastebuds, the more exciting a meal can be.
That's one reason I dig on Hanaroo's lunch. The size of the restaurant and the stiffness of the Japanese-style seating notwithstanding, there's still a delicious level of comfort and joy to be found within its menu.
Dropped in the other day, and was shocked at the near-empty eatery (it was, after all, 12:30 p.m. -- no lingering lunches that day, apparently. I gave the B-10 Bento Box ($9.50) a whirl. Of course, miso soup came out first -- very brothy with well-saturated tofu and tiny slivers of onion for texture and taste.
The box itself arrived with little fanfare; that's okay, it made its own. The salad (which included tomatoes and cucumbers in addition to the standard lettuce) was topped by a refreshing orange-ginger dressing. The edamame was nicely salted. I had gone for the Beef Tataki, which came to me in a broth of its own (I'm used to seeing it in a dryer preparation) and chose a Double Punch roll as my variety for the day. The Tataki was nicely peppery with a "wow, spicy!" kick about two seconds after a bite -- but that was great to try alongside the unexpected dollop of horseradish potato salad paired with the box. I quite approved of the tempura shrimp and crab in the roll, enhanced with the texture of "crunchies" (what in the world should we be calling those bits of tempura batter, anyway?)
The freshness of the three pieces of sashimi? Excellent -- not a hint of fishiness, just firm and smooth slices of delicate fish.
You'll find Hanaroo a couple doors down west off the corner of Capitol and Louisiana. Lunch runs 11 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. There's also dinner available 5-9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. No website that we know of, but you can always call (501) 301-7900.