I had dinner with the husband at Cha Fahn in JP on Wednesday, which is the night for the three course $25.00 prix fixe. We both left wondering why it'd taken us so long to come back (aside from the uncomfortable chairs). We both tried shots of sake for the first time, and the waiter asked good questions to elicit what we might like-- and we both liked what he brought us very much, total novices as we were. Shots range in price from $2-5 depending on how deluxe the sake is. The "well of wisdom" that I tried was so different from wine-- dry and grapefruity up front, rich and sweet in the finish. I don't recall the husband's sake, sorry. It had cocoa notes, though, which was fascinating.
The husband had the vietnamese summer rolls with peanut sauce (fresh, crunchy, delicious, great sauce), beef braised in soy and citrus with braised red cabbage, and the pear-almond tart. The beef was fall-apart tender, and very richly flavored, but not overwhelmed with soy-ness.
I had the seaweed asparagus shrimp wrap with a cilantro/lemon/pine nut mayo to start--it was roll-your-own, which was fun, if messy. The asparagus were perfectly steamed, the sauce was tasty and different, and the nori sheets were nicely toasted. My main was the miso-glazed salmon with braised red cabbage. The salmon was perfectly cooked, richly seasoned, and hit the spot. The glass of bonny doon riesling I ordered went well with the meal, too, and it was a good-sized pour for $6. I had the ginger tea cake for dessert-- it's a simple tea cake, but with nice chunks of candied ginger on top.
Bowls of sticky rice, topped with the green tea/sesame/seaweed sprinkles were perfectly cooked and accompanied both entrees.
My dark oolong was a nice finish, and complemented the cake. The husband's "Iron Goddess of Mercy," a black chinese tea, hit the spot, served "gong fu" style (i.e., repeat steepings). The presentation and ceremony of serving the tea was lovely, without being pretentious.
Total bill (3 shots of sake, 2 teas, a glass of wine over and beyond the prix fixe) plus tip was $90.
It's a little on the slow side, service wise, but that seems more a philosophical approach than a service thing. We were never looking for our food, and were enjoying the atmosphere, the relative quiet, and the difference from our usual choices.