Cafe Japengo: 22 years and still fresh
by Mariko Lamb
Published - 05/09/12 - 03:57 PM | 6384 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Café Japengo's albacore rolls
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Having recently celebrated its 22nd birthday, award-winning sushi and Asian-fusion restaurant Café Japengo shows no signs of slowing down. The restaurant rolled out new menu options in February and has added a slew of new events — including a sushi-making class — for a dining experience like no other.

To spice up the restaurant’s lineup of famed signature items, executive chef Jay Payne and executive sushi chef Jerry Warner have added zests of orange, kicks of jalapeno and fresh micro-cilantro to some of its traditional dishes like sashimi to add extra pizzazz to the Pacific Rim cuisine.

“The key to our success has been the ability to continually evolve and create new flavors while simultaneously staying true to our Pacific Rim roots,” said Payne. “Much of our inspiration comes from customer feedback and experimenting with new ingredients.”

A few of the restaurant’s featured changes and modern twists, he said, stemmed from patrons’ input.

New gluten-free items include miso butterfish with sautéed vegetables, truffle miso broth, micro basil and tobiko; seared jumbo scallops served with pineapple bamboo rice risotto, bok-choy, opal basil and salmon caviar beurre blanc; and prime kobe beef and prawns served alongside wasabi mashed potatoes, long beans and demi-glace.

Other new menu offerings range from Hawaiian beef and udon noodles to traditional street foods like beef yakitori and bahn mi char siu pork sandwiches.

The restaurant’s award-winning sushi bar has given a boost to its always-fresh fare by allowing the sushi chefs’ creativity and culinary expertise run wild with new sushi options behind the bar.

“Every couple of months, I ask one of our chefs to tap into their culinary imagination and conceive a new sushi roll,” said Warner, a 22-year veteran at the restaurant. “For the next several weeks, we’ll be featuring the summer roll, which consists of spicy crab, broccolini, grilled shrimp and avocado on the inside with salmon, lime and sweet ponzu on the outside.”

Cafe Japengo is located at 8960 University Center Lane in the Aventine complex. For more information or to view full versions of the lunch and dinner menus, including gluten-free menus, visit of call (858) 450-3355.

Mother's Day sushi class

For a unique Mother's Day weekend experience, try Café Japengo's sushi-making class on May 12 from noon to 2 p.m.

Learn how to handle sticky rice and how to form a roll and hand roll; receive hands-on sushi-making instruction; learn where to purchase sushi items in town and a brief history of sushi and of Café Japengo; and learn the basic characteristics of various kinds of fish. Plus, taste sake and sushi!

The cost is $60 per person. Call (858) 450-3355 for more information.

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