This is one of the places I wanted to visit when I started browsing through the pages of Chowhound for the first time last year. I finally had the opportunity to visit when I had family visiting for the week, although it took a bit of arm-twisting to persuade the relatives to come when I didn't know exactly how to describe the type of food that is served at Cafe Hiro.
What type of fusion is it? French/Japanese fusion? Italian/Japanese fusion? California/Japanese fusion? Who cares, when the food is good. But when persuading others to come to a new place, it's helpful to give them a clue as to what to expect. I just said it's fusion, and it's really good, because the Chowhound folks know what they are talking about.
And we weren't disappointed. I'd actually visited other restaurants in this little strip mall years earlier before Cafe Hiro opened. We liked the funky decorations and vibe of this place, which I noticed most of the other customers were Japanese or of some Asian descent. That's always a good sign that the food is good.
We did start with an appetizer of fried crispy tofu, which was a slight variation of deep-fried tofu appetizers I've had at Chinese restaurants. The tofu wasn't stuffed with anything, which I was hoping for, but it was light and crispy.
My brother and I both ordered the roasted Chilean seabass with mushroom risotto, while my father went for the kobe beef curry with rice. I wasn't brave enough to try the seabass with uni (sea urchin) risotto. My brother, who is a Chowhound-type of eater, was surprised to see that on the menu, and I told him that was the type of fusion food that you can expect at Cafe Hiro.
The Chilean seabass was absolutely wonderful. My brother agreed, as he ranked the quality up there with a recent fish entree he had at Antonello's. The mushroom risotto was a perfect complement to the fish, and I gobbled up my entree with eager delight. I also sampled the kobe beef curry that my father ordered, and that beef was very tender and flavorful, very much like what I had at Roy's Hawaiian last month, but the curry sauce was nothing special.
This is a gem of a restaurant for us OC residents to have nearby. I still don't know how to quite describe the type of cuisine at Cafe Hiro, but I can't wait to go back.
10509 Valley View St.
lunch Tu-Fri 11:30AM-2:30PM, Sat-Sun 12PM-3PM
dinner Tu-Thu 5:30-10PM, Fri-Sat 5:30-10;30PM, Sun 5-9:30PM