Dining

Take comfort in Cafe de Japon

Chinatown’s newest Japanese joint separates itself from the pack

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Despite being a Japanese restaurant, Cafe de Japon has the best flan in town.
Photo: Beverly Poppe

Just when you think you’ve had every type of Japanese food imaginable, along comes Cafe de Japon. The new Chinatown joint is a kissaten—or Japanese-style coffeehouse—serving strangely familiar comfort food.

At first glance, the menu isn’t terribly exciting; Hamburg steak and tomato sauce pasta are among the offerings. But looks can be deceiving. Even these traditional dishes—whose origins actually date to Japan’s post-WW2 American occupation—are afforded special care by former Sushi Roku chef Kiichi Okabe.

The Japanese-style Hamburg steak ($13) is particularly interesting. It’s topped with ground daikon and shiso, so the initial acidic/vinegary onslaught quickly mellows into an amazingly balanced dish. Your mother’s hamburger steak this is not. The demi-glace version ($12), which abounds with panko breadcrumbs, is also memorable. Both steak options are served with a surprisingly tasty potatoes gratin (I say surprising since this, again, is a Japanese joint).

Restaurant Guide

Cafe de Japon
5300 Spring Mountain Road, 341-8038.
Monday-Thursday, noon-midnight; Friday-Saturday, noon-2 a.m.

Equally unexpected is the Neapolitan ($10)—pasta with tomato sauce. The sauce itself, a light mixture of homemade ketchup and tomatoes, is mixed with green peppers and onions that provide both textural and flavor contrasts.

Still, Cafe de Japon is a kissaten, so don’t overlook the coffee. They serve two types, hot siphon ($5) and iced drip ($6). Both are somewhat laborious—the made-to-order siphon takes 10 minutes, while the drip runs for six hours during the day—but the preparations result in less-acidic versions than you’ll encounter most anywhere else. Both pair wonderfully with the housemade desserts ($5-$8), including what might be the Valley’s best flan. Who knew Japanese desserts could be this good? Yet one more surprise from Cafe de Japon.

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Jim Begley

Jim Begley is an avid food lover who began writing about his Las Vegas dining adventures to defray his obscene ...

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