Upon entering the cafe, I was very apprehensive and unsure about what to expect. Having only eaten sushi a few times, I was actually nervous. Scheer Restaurant group owns eight local chains in Fargo- Moorhead and now I can see why they do. Some of their restaurants include the critically acclaimed Thai Orchid, Wasabi and downtown favorite Drunken Noodle.
Cafe 21 is the newest chain added to the mix and is referred to as the little sister of Wasabi. This Asian bistro and sushi bar has a unique menu of Vietnamese cuisine with an underlying tone of French influences.
One specialty that the cafe offers is the lava stove. After the chef cooks the meat to a servable temperature, the customer gets to be the next chef and cook their meat to their preference. The atmosphere of the cafe is classy yet laid back.
The chef doesn’t mind cracking a few jokes here and there. Head chef Kabo has 13 years of experience in the kitchen, five of those being dedicated to sushi.
While eating my special salad, I got to chat with him about his experience cooking as he cut salmon. Although he wouldn’t give me the recipe to this freshly crisp salad, he did tell me the tale of how he made 2,000 sushi rolls in one day.
Formerly, the cafe location was occupied by Yuki Hana, but the Scheer restaurant group saw an opportunity and in December of 2012, Cafe 21 was born.
The items that line the menu are an array of fresh vegetables, hearty meats and unique Asian spices. With great service, Cafe 21 is the place any college student or Fargo-Moorhead native would want to go for great sushi.
Head manager Keng welcomes customers of any age, but believes their target audience is younger professionals. The classy aura the cafe gives off is obvious upon walking in. For intimate dates, business lunches or even a hang out spot with friends, this is the place to be.
After eating my salad, I had some miso soup that piqued my appetite and interest with its aroma. I couldn’t resist having more than I should. My order was filled with familiarity, spice and difference.
I was surprised and in awe of how blended the sushi was. Dabbling into the specialty rolls, I couldn’t resist the idea of the Broken Heart roll and with Valentine’s Day still lingering in my mind, I was interested in this idea. The spicy tuna that lined the roll was apparent right away, as was the jalapeno but I found myself mesmerized for some reason.
Not being a big spice eater, I was surprised at my inclination towards the roll. Along with the Broken Heart roll, I ordered a salmon roll and a California roll to refresh my senses and add a smokiness to tame the flame.
Visiting with other patrons, I ran into Amelia Davis, a long time sushi lover and former MSUM student.
“This is some of the best service I’ve ever gotten at a sushi restaurant,” Davis commented. Amelia has had sushi from all over the United States such as Denver, Minneapolis and even San Francisco.
In my search for opinions, I also found Emily Trottier, an apprehensive first time sushi goer being brought her first sample.
“Doesn’t look very attractive but it taste like heaven,” Trottier said, biting into her first piece of her Red Dragon specialty roll.
Cafe 21 is located on 25 street in Fargo, and offers lunch specials with pleasant service and convenience. To get authentic dining experience, Cafe 21 is the place to go. You will be enticed by the flavors and drawn in by the service of the traditionally dressed servers. Cafe 21 offers not only exotic sushi and amenable service, but also gives you a look into Asian culture that will have you leaving with a big smile and full stomach.
STORY AND PHOTOS BY JANAE BOSWELL