A life consumed by food. A lifetime consuming food.
After wracking my brain (and the internet) trying to figure out where to go for dinner I decided to try Aoyama Cafe, a place that had been on my to-try list. I had a hankering for Hong Kong style cafe food so I thought it would be good choice. I knew that the Aoyama in Richmond is actually the second location of the chain, the first being in California. I was a little surprised when I learned the restaurant is owned by a Filipino family because it is in a Chinese dominant mall.
Getting to the restaurant required walking through the mall past the atrium where it was hard not to notice the giant m&m sphinx sculpture on display. I was at Aberdeen a few days earlier and witnessed the painstaking construction of the sculptures as people glued on each candy on, one by one. It must have been difficult to glue them on well without the candies melting in their hands (or their mouths). I took a several photos of the fully constructed display to continue to teach myself how to use my camera properly and not to rely solely on the ‘auto’ function.
Aoyama wasn’t too busy that evening, being a stat holiday, so it was easy to get a table. I looked over the menu and quickly noticed that it was a more Japanese cafe (Yoshoku) style menu. I expected Aoyama to be a Hong Kong style cafe, but I was thrilled when I saw they have hamburg steak, a Japanese style salisbury steak. I used to love going to Barefoot Kitchen for their hamburg steak, curries, and their delicious onsen tomago, unfortunately they have closed down and I have since been on a mission to find a similar restaurant.
A call button on the table summoned a waiter to the table and he took an order of Squid and Cod Roe Spaghetti as well as a Japanese Hamburg Hayashi-Curry Rice. When asked for a description of Hayashi the waiter was unable to describe it. The picture of the Hayashi looked harmless enough, so why not give it a try.
I liked the Spaghetti because it tasted like it was bathed in butter. The squid ringlets were tender; perfectly cooked. Bright orange Cod Roe always adds a nice little POP when they break between your teeth. The shredded nori added that Japanese touch, setting it apart from an Italian Pasta.
The Hayashi sauce turned out to be a gravy, which proably was probably made from on of those premade boullion type cubes. The sauce had a flat, processed can food kind of taste. The curry was a bit spicy, which is unusual for Japanese style, but it had similar characteristics to the Hayashi. I won’t order the Hamburg again because it was a bit dry, although it was less noticeable with the sauces. I also thought it was very unusual that the plate was garnished with raisins. I tasted ate them since they were on the plate but didn’t find them to compliment the dish in any way. The unique crunch of the red fukujinzuke pickles is always a nice addition. Th pickles, with their salty, sweet, and sour flavor are common as an acompaniment to curry in Japan. Barefoot Kitchen, how I miss thee…
Now that I’ve tried Aoyama I can cross it off my list. I thought it was a bit pricey for the quality and portions they served. However, there were a few other items on the menu I would be interested in trying. It will be a while before I do so.