Update Jan 8, 2014: This restaurant is now closed.
For O’s birthday she wanted to eat at the new Aoyama Cafe at Aberdeen Centre. They advertise that they serve the Japanese brand of UCC Coffee’s, and that the LA branch was voted top 5 coffee shops over there. Naturally, all of this makes you think they have excellent coffee right? We’ll see.
UCC is famous for their “Blue Mountain” coffee, which probably explains the name of the restaurant- “Ao” means blue, and “Yama” means mountain!
We all opted for the Dinner Special since it seemed like a good deal. The Siphoned Sumiyaki drink is actually supposed to be their most intense coffee. Two coffee drinkers of our group picked this. Another two picked Iced Tea with Milk, and the last two (me including) picked plain Iced Tea.
First up, service. I guess it’s forgiveable since it’s only the second day they’ve opened the full-service dining area. But our server didn’t seem too familiar with the Dinner Special because she got it mixed up with the Lunch Special. That’s ok though, she was friendly and she actually smiled.
Here’s the Siphoned Sumiyaki Coffee. They just bring it over like that and they pour it for you, you don’t get to see it yourself. They’re probably afraid you’ll break it. It kinda sucks that you don’t get to see the “siphoning” action.
Now it’s advertised as their most intense coffee. However, upon trying it, we were told it was far from. In fact, it was quite bland and watered down. The addition of cream obviously did not help.
If their most intense coffee was so bland, what hope was there for the other drinks? I did not have high ones for sure. This was the Lemon Iced Tea. It was weird to me that they would serve it with milk…wouldn’t the lemon and the milk cause a reaction? In case it isn’t clear, the version with milk is the same, they just provide a small pitcher of creamer.
It came with a small pitcher of sugar syrup also but I wouldn’t call it syrup…more like sugar water. You need A LOT to taste any hint of sweetness. They need to learn how to make a proper sugar syrup.
As for the tea itself….what tea?
So, the dinner salad. It reminds of a certain other Japanese-style pasta shop. It tasted like it too. Everything seems premade, such as the corn (canned) and the pineapple (canned). They probably only cut the tomatoes themselves.
We think they need to work on their quality control, as some plates looked presentable while others looked like it was half eaten. Same with the drinks. Out of the four cold drinks, 1 was filled to the top while the rest was only 3/4 full.
So, service. Right after the salads came out, the entrees came out too. We didn’t even get time to touch our salads. The table got pretty crowded pretty quickly. Now I understand this isn’t a fine-dining or even a western casual-dining restaurant, but seriously?
Above is the Chicken Katsu and Hamburg Curry Rice. I didn’t get a chance to taste them but I think they were actually decent since out of the 3 that ordered it, 2 cleaned the plate.
Fannypack had the Seafood Soup Spaghetti. The presentation of the dish wasn’t too admirable. For one, they had the seafood underneath the spaghetti, so it looked like it was disturbed prior to being served. The soup was alright though, sort of like having a slightly watered-down cream soup.
Finally, my choice was the Scallop and Mushroom Soup Spaghetti. The broth was very, very clear and had very little flavor. There were a good amount of big scallops though, but there was some sand in them. The pasta could be a bit more al dente, but overall this isn’t something I would order again, even though it’s an interesting item.
The dessert we were supposed to get were ice cream. But for some reason the manager (at least that’s what we think he is) came over and offered to give us 2 plates of the Choco Banana French Toast instead (he also gave us some coupons earlier for free coffee). We happily obliged.
This was seriously the best food we had all night. The cubes were thick and fluffy, and the chocolate sauce (even though it could be premade stuff) wasn’t too sweet at all. We really enjoyed this. We are now thinking that perhaps they do desserts better than entrees, but then it’s really not hard to do sweets is it?
So in the end, some more things we’ve noticed. Our server was quite inexperienced. When she came to clear our plates, she actually stacked two of the soup bowls together, causing the soup to overflow. Good thing she had her tray under it but it really wasn’t smart of her to do that. One time she also brought a dirty plate from another table and placed it in front of F while clearing our dishes. We thought that was a big no-no.
They also don’t really have a good grasp of where to place the food when it arrives. For instance, when they brought out the dessert, they put it at the edge of the table instead of in the middle between us.
Don’t really know how I feel about the place but maybe I”ll go back to try the desserts. Before the place opened I wanted to try their Sumiyaki Coffee Jelly but after tonight, knowing how bland the coffee actually is, I have a feeling it wouldn’t be that good.
Also, the full-service dining area has a minimum charge of $20.00, which means if there’s only two of you, you probably have to eat in the cafe area instead.