Western cuisine with Europe
Western cuisine with Europe

Western cuisine with Europe

Western cuisine with Europe

Western cuisine with Europe

Western cuisine with Europe

Western cuisine with Europe
By Keiko Fukuda

The featured restaurant, “Café Hiro” is located in a small shopping mall in the city of Cypress in Orange County, and is a bit away from the freeways. Despite the rather inconvenient location, this restaurant is always our first choice whenever I want to meet up for lunch with a friend who works in a Japanese company in the area. It is also the place to meet with a gourmet friend who lives in Irvine because it is located at the middle point between Irvine and South Bay where I live. The reason for us to choose this restaurant every time is that we know everything is guaranteed to be tasty. Basically, the dishes served there are Japanese-style Western dishes with a hint of European essence as described in the catch phrase of this restaurant: a collaboration of Japanese and French cuisine with a hint of Italian. Another pleasing factor is their reasonable pricing.

The owner/chef, Hiroto Ohiwa has 33-years of cooking experience. He grew up in the United States for a while because his father was assigned to work for the American division within a Japanese company. After going back to Japan, and turning 20 years old, he spent 4 years working in a Japanese restaurant in the Aichi Prefecture. After that, he attended a cooking school in London, England, and then spent the last few months in a school in Paris, France, which gave him a chance to serve his apprenticeship in a restaurant in Paris for the next 2 years.

After coming back to U.S., he worked in a various first-class restaurants including “Matsuhisa” and “Café Del Rey”. He was then assigned to be responsible to kick off a restaurant in West Los Angeles. Then, in 2002, he finally opened “Café Hiro” which holds part of his name.

Hiro’s such unique experiences in Japanese and French cooking show in his free-spirited and creative dishes. He says, “When I cook, I only think about making the customers who taste my dishes smile. Of course, I want to keep creating dishes that I, myself, think are tasty as well.”

So what kinds of dishes does Hiro remember as most delicious from his past? “First that comes to my mind is the sautéed shrimp topped with curry sauce that I had at Robuchon in Paris. Next one is the risotto- stuffed pig ear topped with sautéed halibut that I had also in Paris”, was his answer. He said that there are a lot more than he can remember.

The current richly diverse menu has been created by slowly adding dishes over the years to the original menu they had at the opening. Most of the customers are people who work or live in the area. The risottos with mushrooms and scallops are popular among Caucasian Americans whereas Asian Americans prefer the sea urchin spaghetti, hamburger steak, and pork cutlet. The curry dishes which are cooked with a lot of spices, vegetables, and fruits that taste better than the specialty stores, are paired with various ingredients such as pork or chicken cutlet, wild mushrooms, beef, chicken, or vegetables. The high ceiling provides a casual and open ambience, and you feel very comfortable inside the restaurant.

It has already been 14 years since the opening of Café Hiro. I asked Hiro what the secret of the long running success was. He said there was really nothing.
“When we first opened, we placed some ads in magazines, etc., but what really helped was word of mouth and repeat visits of the customers. Recently, thanks to Yelp, we don’t need to advertise. The customers spread the good word for us.”
In 2012, Café Hiro was ranked second best in OC Weekly’s “10 Great Japanese Restaurants in Orange County”. However, Hiro, being so carefree, did not even know about it until a while later.

I took his photo with the kitchen staff, Louis and Carlos, who both have been with the restaurant for over 12 years. When I asked Hiro the secret of keeping the employees so long, he said that he would never tell lies. That also must be the secret of the popularity of his dishes. Café Hiro’s dishes do not lie.







2012年にはOC Weeklyが選出した「10 Great Japanese Restaurant in Orange County」の2位にランクイン。それについても「実は取り上げられたことを後で知ったんです」とヒロさんはどこまでも自然体だ。


Café Hiro
10509 Valley View St
Cypress, CA 90630

Mon. Closed