Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cafe Hiro - Cypress - For the third time!

Yes, I know I write about this place a little too much. And I dine here, a little too much.

By now, I've brought just about everyone I know to this place. Perhaps, at times, I build up their expectations so much that I think some of them don't end up absolutely loving it like I do.

I shouldn't take it personally, I know. It shouldn't come as a surprise that everyone has individual and distinct tastes in food, just as they would in movies. As I cannot expect everyone to love one of my favorite films, "Tampopo", a quirky Japanese food flick, I should not expect them to like every restaurant that I like. After all, I don't think any amount of cajoling will ever get me to like Star Trek movies either.

As I accept this fact, I am unswayed from my opinion that Cafe Hiro is one of the best values for fine cuisine in Orange County. For $15, not only do you get an entree like the one shown above (Seared Diver Scallops on Risotto), but also a refreshing salad of greens in a ginger-miso dressing *AND* a sublime, creamy homemade soup of the day.

The seared scallops dish itself would probably set you back twice as much at restaurants in Vegas. And after spending exactly that much at such restaurants for mediocre food, I always come running back to Cafe Hiro, thanking my lucky stars that it is here in my backyard.

Sure, there are misses at Cafe Hiro, along with the hits. Their duck breast and the hamburger steak are the weakest and most disappointing dishes of the bunch, but everything else, in my humblest opinion, is spot on and perfect.

Their Steamed Wild Salmon, which seems to be permanently on the "specials" board, is almost Zen-like in its simplicity. Presented nakedly on a stark white plate, the pink salmon steak is flanked by four condiments, set neatly in a linear arrangement.

A wedge of lemon.
Sea salt.
A dab of mayonaisse.
A lump of grated green horseradish.

A saucer of yuzu dressing is also provided in case you require any extra "oomph".

The salmon is delicate and pristine; its essence and flavor unobscured. This is, perhaps, a calculated move by the chef. The other salmon dish they offer (Salmon Saiko) is, by contrast, bold and deeply infused with a dark marinade.

So there it is, my third and probably not the last post on Cafe Hiro.

Thanks for listening.

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


At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep 'em coming Elmo - I'm hoping to make it there one day! Believe me I'm not tired of hearing about this place.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Kirk, I'm glad to hear that you aren't getting tired of me raving about this place. I think this place is my Haru Ulala.

At 5:00 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

They keep the same general menu for lunch and dinner actually. Although they do have lunch specials with reduced prices on the weekdays, like pasta dishes and Japanese curry.

On weekends, they have a weekend lunch specials with an appetizer, soft drink, and dessert included for $20 on selected entrees (with soup and salad always included). These basically save you about $10 bucks since the appetizer and dessert if ordered separately will run about $5 each.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Daily Gluttony said...

Elmo! You took the words right out of my mouth 'bout Haru Ulala! Oh well, what can I say, when you like a place, you like a place, right?

At 5:10 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I knew you'd catch that. ;-P

At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elmo - Damn, after looking at the address I just realized that I used to go to Cypress every few months for a disaster recovery meeting. But with the way my luck goes, we changed vendors. Bummer!

At 8:39 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Kirk, I should've written more about it in the past then! Well, I'm sure that Cafe Hiro is going to be around for a while, so it'll be there the next time you are up here. I think it is getting more and more popular actually.

At 4:12 PM, Blogger e d b m said...

That restaurant looks good!

At 12:36 AM, Blogger Xericx said...

Must go here...REALLY disappointed by my last trip to Blue Marlin...need something to smack me up back into place.

At 8:26 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Dylan and Xericx,

Hope that the restaurant holds up to my raves when you guys decide to try it out.

BTW, I think there may have been a connection between Hiro, Blue Marlin, and Nobu at some point in the past.

At 8:30 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

I was's the article about Chef Hiro Ohiwa's story:

Elmer Dills Reviewer on Cafe Hiro

At 10:12 AM, Blogger e d b m said...

just read that article. ok the chef definitely has a nice resume.

At 9:01 PM, Blogger BoLA said...

Great post! And GREAT MOVIE - Tampopo is such a classic! ;) And I have to agree w/Pam...when you like a place, you like a place!

At 10:19 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Yup. Tampopo is a gem of a movie. Kinda sums up everything I love about food and how it touches every aspect of life.

And Pam *IS* right...when I like a place, I like a place...and shouldn't stop writing about it until we're blue in the face...

BTW...I'm planning a trip to Haru Ulala in the coming week or two. Cameras primed, as are my tastebuds!

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thanks for turning me on to Cafe Hiro... the out-of-the-way location delayed my test drive until last Sunday. I'm headed back for lunch on Friday. 'Nuff said. Will do my best to spread the gospel to my north county minions.
Still dreaming of the seabass,

At 11:23 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


You're welcome! It's great to hear you had such a memorable experience that you are returning!

Stay tuned, because I just tried another Chowhound tip on "Park Avenue Dining" in Stanton. I'll do post on it soon. Suffice it to say, I loved it.

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey i went to cafe hiro for the third time recently, ordering my favorite dishes--diced ahi tuna with japanese yam and poached egg, seabass roll and the beef tataki. but the beef tataki was rather disappointing that night. since i take pictures almost every time i dine out, i noticed that there were fewer pieces of beef that night. yes the pieces were slightly bigger and thicker but i'd rather they were not, because the texture was actually far less tender than before. i almost suspected that the hiro san might be absent that night.

but we tried the other uni spaghetti that night and it was AH-MAY-ZING! (how HK chinese would say when they were truly amazed...haha!)

have you tried the pasta there yet? if you're not a uni lover, try the one with manila clams. the clams are super fresh and their juices blend in perfectly with the al dente spaghetti.

now that i consider myself a cafe hiro fan, i always try to predict whether i will be seated at a table with blue/white checkers or red/white checkers. just a little game i play with myself. well, red or blue, that remains to be one of my favorite restaurants. :-)

p.s. i LOVE tampopo and watched quite a few of Juzo Itami's other films, which are all great. btw, there's a new shinsengumi ramen branch in san gabriel, so my alhambra/san gabriel/monterey park friends are all delighted!

At 3:40 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

I *still* haven't tried the Uni's so hard to wean myself from the regular entrees! They're so goooood!

But I did try the ahi tuna with poached egg appetizer. It was one of those "why did I wait so long to try this dish" experiences.

Thanks for posting your most recent experiences! I liked reading about the little game you play. Funny!

At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

from yum-eee: absolutely luv this place, like u do, always a pleasure to dine there. us gals can dine on wonderful appretizers and be satisfied & happy! beef salad is amazing w/tad of potato salad on top! dim sum pork w/small buns + sauce is always to die for. a friend goes back 4 the bacon-spinach pasta & now i know why i do too--ditto for clam pasta. marinated cod divinely melts in your mouth--ask for the rice accompaniment for sure. enjoy!!!

At 4:56 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Yup those apps are always tasty! i liked the poached crawfish with fresh mozzarella, avocado, mesculin salad and miso vinagrette...Here's a picture of it! Delish!

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wandered in there for lunch today because I work in the neighborhood and was feeling nostalgic regarding my youth and the short two weeks that I was in Japan (cool, cloudy, threatening-to-rain days do that to me). Anyway, it was great! I had the chicken curry (a touchstone for me for Japanese restaurants, much like tamales at a Mexican restaurant or matzo ball soup at a Kosher deli). The chicken curry was only $7.95 and it came with soup and salad. When they brought me a bowl of minestrone soup, I was a bit incredulous, 'cause well, I was at a Japanese joint and it was the last thing I expected but lemme tell ya', it was marvelous! The simple salad was very tasty as well as unexpected . . . ya' see, I hadn't really read the menu thoroughly and I totally did not expect soup & salad with my meal for that price. There are a few places in this neighborhood to get Japanese curry and this blew them all away. The sauce was obviously and wondrously homemade (unlike some of the aforementioned competitors) and the mélange of spices was sublime. It would have been a relatively inexpensive lunch had I not ordered two large bottles of beer but I did and I do not regret it in the least. This place rocks and I will be back.


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