Sunday, November 08, 2009

Cafe Hiro's Steak Dinner - Cypress

There are days that leave me feeling beat up and defeated, when I don't just need comfort food, but a comfort place. Cafe Hiro is my comfort place. My happy place. A few weeks ago, after one of these days, I told her, "I don't want to stay in tonight." And before we knew it we both said, "Let's go to Cafe Hiro."

This would happen two more times in two consecutive weeks. What can I say. It's been that kind of month.

But as soon as we arrive, everything seems to immediately get better. Calming and welcoming -- a refuge as a refuge should be -- it's almost as good as home, this place.

Knowing that we always order the passion fruit iced tea, our waitress already has it ready. Two tall, ice cold glasses of it are poured, even before we sit down.

At the center of it all stands Hiro Ohiwa -- the benevolent owner/chef, a Zen Buddha-figure with a backwards baseball cap -- who waves hello to us as he oversees his dominion. Order tickets go through him before it's fired, and he inspects every plate before it's delivered. If something isn't perfect, he'll make it so.

That night he had a surprise for us: a complimentary amuse bouche. Mozzarella, chopped and formed into two quenelles, sits on a extra virgin olive oil puddle, sprinkled with coarse sea salt and cracked pepper. Just a small token of appreciation, which for me, on that night, counted for a lot.

Her choice of main course, as it always is, was the uni spaghetti. Mine was steak, which comes with a salad and soup -- both gobbled up just as quickly as the salad is briskly cool, and the soup, a liquid-blanket of warmness.

Around the plate and flanking the gorgeously browned slab of meat, there's creamy scalloped potatoes fanned out like a magician's cards, but also a welcome bit of greenery: bok choy dappled with drops of miso.

And the steak? Of course, it carves like a dream, but also has just enough chew so that there's something meaningful and meaty to masticate. 'Neath it a soy and garlic pan sauce mingles and mixes with the escaping juices. But the garlic part of the sauce means business. It explodes in sweet but powerful tiny bursts.

I ate my meal hungrily, as if I were eating the first steak of my life. Good? To me, at that time, it was beyond good. It was more than just a steak; it was soothing balm applied to an open wound.

And it isn't fancy like steakhouse's. If I had to describe it, it's more like "mom's house." Cooked exactly to my liking, exactly medium, not too big, not too small...just right. Kind of like Cafe Hiro itself.

Cafe Hiro
(714) 527-6090
10509 Valley View St
Cypress, CA 90630

THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Javier's - Newport Beach

13 Comments:

At 7:48 PM, Blogger joy said...

Yay! Cafe Hiro is one of my favorite go-to spots, too! My guilty pleasures there are always the to-die-for carbonara and the delectable panna cotta. No one else can make that wonderful dessert quite like that. I try to describe Cafe Hiro to friends and say, "It's a Japanese-French twist on Italian and American fare..just go!" Can't wait to go again, myself!

 
At 10:36 PM, Blogger Exile Kiss said...

Hi elmomonster,

Nice. You just reminded me (again) to visit this place. Hopefully I'll get a chance to visit in the coming month or two. :)

 
At 6:15 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

Now THAT is comfort food!!

 
At 9:25 AM, Blogger polar said...

I Love Cafe Hiro. I found out about it from reading your blog (visit #2, from your review, I think). I have been coming here ever since. I think this one place has been sort of a gateway for my food ventures and increased peak to try new and exciting places. And even still, Cafe Hiro has been one of my favorite places. My guilty pleasure is their Osso Bucco. And of course, I finish every meal here with a panna cotta.

 
At 11:53 AM, Blogger Bill said...

I love this place not to mention their decadent desert. My only regret was not to indulge myself more with Cafe Hirp

 
At 12:22 PM, Blogger Juliet said...

You write about this place so much that I will just HAVE to go there on my next visit. Care to double date with me and Dave? With a couple of kids tagging along, of course.

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger Diamond Dog said...

Thank you for reminding us that Cypress is a city in Orange County. I will have to try Cafe Hiro.

AGAIN because of your review, I tried Cambino's Asian BBQ. It was really good. All the meats are good, but I think the best tasting was the chicken. It just had such a good texture. Another great thing is each meat has a different flavor. Its not like Most BBQ where its the same rub, marinade, and sauce but just of different meats. And the owner really makes it! Nicest guy and talked to us the throughout our stay. Its great to see a guy start a business and see it do well for him.

Read your review on Javiers. You don' go there for the food, you go there for Cougarpalooza!

Its not bad food, just not great. Too much of that fusion/dressing up thing going on and I am just not a fan of that. More of an "authenticity" kinda guy

 
At 4:25 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

Haha, you do love to write more than one post on restaurants you enjoy a lot :). I almost went to Cafe Hiro last time I went to the OC for a full day as I like a blend of fusion flavors (as seen by my reviews of Sesame Grill) and I just might this Thanksgiving weekend. The mozzarella looks so interesting to me. Would have never expected that to be mozzarella!

 
At 5:16 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

joy,

It defies classification doesn't it. It's just good. And my dessert of choice: the croissant bread pudding with that bitter caramel sauce!

Exile Kiss,

Yes! Of all people, you need to try the place. But again, to temper your expectations, I can't stress how easy/casual the vibe is. Nobu it isn't!

christoofat,

It suuuuure is!

polar,

It is a springboard to more adventures isn't it! There are items that I've had here in the past that were on special that were simply revelatory. I wish they brought back the poached salmon they used to do. My, my that was good.

Bill,

Yes! All their desserts are awesome. I place the croissant bread pudding and panna cotta above all others though. In fact, I secure my order at the beginning usually. Sometimes they run out of the bread pudding!

Juliet,

I was going to start this post with "I know I write about this place a lot..." but then I realized I said that when I wrote about it the last few times. I figured it was no secret to those who know me that I adore the place. And absolutely! I'd love to eat with you guys here! Let me know!

DD,

Ain't Cambino's awesome? My favorite is still the pork ribs, slathered with plenty of that hot sauce.

Now when I eat at Cypress, it's usually comes down to a choice between Cafe Hiro and Cambinos.

And like you said, James is a cool dude too.

EatTravelEat,

They do wonderful holiday fixed priced meals usually. Last year's Christmas meal was the best yet! And I'm only assuming it's mozzarella because that's what our waitress said it was...I was actually thinking it might be something else! But dang was it great!

 
At 5:28 PM, Blogger joanh said...

is it related to blue marlin on sawtelle? they also have uni spaghetti and their salad looks identical with the mushy orange dressing...

 
At 5:54 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

joanh,

There's a reason for that actually! Hiro worked at Blue Marlin before starting this place in Cypress!

 
At 8:11 AM, Blogger ChristianZ said...

I was there about a month ago. No, two months ago. Good stuff. Neve would've known about it if it weren't for this blog.

 
At 8:03 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Thanks Christian! It's my honor to introduce this place to everyone!

 

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