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Cafe Chopsticks, Downtown - Closed


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Due to my wife's new found obsession with this place's udon soup, I've now eaten lunch here 4 times in the past two weeks. It is a counter service place that issues numbers and delivers your tray to the table (you get your own water and cutlery from two stations). The food is alright, probably a step above for lunch, but not at all a destination place. The prices are a bit high but still reasonable $8-14/entree. As I said my wife loves the tofu and vegetable Udon noodle soup, which comes with lots of semi-firm tofu, some shredded veggies, lots of good noodle and a light, but tasty broth. I've tried it and it is very good.

My choices so far have been hit or miss (probably depending on my personal tastes). Best have been the bento boxes - 1) organic tofu box comes with good amount of decent sticky/sushi rice, a nice green salad with a great dressing, a bit of good seaweed salad, some spicy pickled green beans, and a large amount of grilled/lightly fried squares of tofu. Overall pretty good, but the tofu was alittle bland - needed sauce. Soy sauce on the table worked ok. and 2) Sushi Roll bento - same green and seaweed salad, but with a good california maki roll and a so so tuna roll (it typically comes with spicy tuna, but I asked for it without because i think spicy sushi kills the flavor of the fish) as well as 3 pieces of good nigiri - yellowtail, salmon, and good tuna (not sure why the maki tuna wasn't the same quality). There are also a bunch of other meat, sushi, etc bentos.

I also had the bibimbap which is very popular. It is a big bowl of sushi rice with little piles of different diced vegetables from shitakes, cucumbers, carrots, etc. with your choice of topping - tofu, seaweed salad, plain, or korean meats - bulgogi or galbi. I had the bulgogi which I found to be not as flavorful as other places due to the lack of sauce - it was marinated, but dry when served and the cut of meat was kind of fatty. The galbi looked better in hindsight. They also serve the spicy asian bbq sauce on the side for you to mix in which is good because it packs a punch, but I liked it. I think the non-meat bimbimbap options might be better in the future.

Lastly, my least favorite was the spicy vege ramen soup which is really really spicy. My lips were burning afterwards. The noodles weren't great either - they looked and tasty like they were from one of those bricks you buy for a quarter. Also I disliked the lack of veggies except shredded carrots and a few super tiny pieces of shitake. I would definitely pass on this dish, unless you really just want a mouth full of spice.

We also had so so edamame, great seaweed salad, and ok veggie gyoza appetizers.

it is down on 19th between K and L, next to Java Green (which I may try next because it is always packed) and is a nice addition to the lunch places - even if its dishes are hit or miss.

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I agree with KeithA that it's on the pricey side, and for carry out, I don't think it's worth it; but I've only been once, so my opinion is currently inaccurate. I had the organic tofu bimbimbap and the rice was too soft and "fluffy" for a bimbimbap. The sauce was the better part of the meal. The tofu had zero flavor. :lol:

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The one great thing I can say about Cafe Chopsticks is that I could pick up Java Green's WiFi while waiting for my miso ramen. Unfortunately the positives stop there. As mentioned above the noodles are nothing special, actually I would say that they are no better than what you get from a package of dried ramen. But I could look past the lame noodles if the broth were any good, unfortunately it was flavorless, even a dash of soy couldn't bring it back to life. Also, what is ramen without decent toppings? For $8 you might expect something more than bean sprouts, shredded carrots, zucchini, frozen peas and corn.

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