The Coast News Group

Enough food to split but too good to share at JF Japanese Cafe

Lately, it seems to us that living up to our “budget meals” increasingly means menu manipulation.
To be specific, we admire JF Japanese Café, a convenient step from the Krikorian movie house, and enjoy eating there after an early morning show. But the Sushi and Sashimi Combo, which is excellent, is also pretty pricey ($25.95). A party tray, which is a tasty treat and a work of art, weighs in at $70 for a small, $120 for a larger.
Here comes the menu manipulation: we ordered a Special Bento Box, a delicacy-laden enameled and compartmentalized platter for $10. We got California Rolls (nine pieces) with heavenly tempura, miso soup, rice, pickles and green salad. The five pieces of tempura included squash and shrimp, the latter of which we split. He got the soup, we split the rice, pickles and green salad and the California Rolls. A very tasty and pretty filling compromise.
We contemplated splitting a vegetable yakisoba ($7.75) with a side of rice ($2) but we were up against one of us hankering for JF’s tempura. We think it’s the best we’ve ever tasted. Similarly, we could each have had a vegetable teriyaki rice bowl for $4.95. It is on the small side but adequate. We further toyed with splitting a shrimp fried rice for $8.95.
We’ll do that next time.
For the tipplers of our acquaintance, we report that JF has Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo beer and hot sake, all for $3.75 or $6.95 depending on size. Iced green tea, fountain drinks and hot tea all come for $1.75. Salads range from $3 to $12.95 for Chef’s Seafood.
Among the cut rolls of sushi is a Vista roll for $10.95. At a party, that could be a showstopper.
To learn all about the place, visit
The lovely menu and the Web site are works of art, as is the bamboo and colorful interior and exterior of the restaurant. The Vista location is one of three; there are others in Del Mar and in Oceanside, all with the same owner. The sushi bar is a bar, indeed, with a skilled fabricator making fish, rice, avocado, eel, seaweed into just what we want.
If you can’t tell, we love the place.
Occasionally, when we don’t want a meal, we stop and split a shrimp and vegetable tempura for $8.50. Pure heaven.
JF’s is tucked kitty-cornered to the movie theater at 35 Main St. in Vista and is open for lunch and dinner.