Review by Dan Purdon
During one of our frequent visits to Shoga in Orem, we noticed that the restaurant right next to it had turned from a frozen yogurt place to something called the E-Cafe. Upon further investigation, it turned out that E-Cafe is a casual Asian restaurant focusing on the most popular dishes from Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and other Oriental cooking. Who woulda thought?? We got the chance to visit them last week.
The first thing we laid eyes on was a prominent menu of about two dozen different Boba Drink flavors – evidently a specialty of E-Cafe. But on that day, we had no eyes for drinks; it was all about the food!
In spite of its relatively small size, the food menu spanned an impressive number of different culinary regions. They had some Japanese favorites like Chicken Katsu and steamed Edamame, Vietnamese entrees such as grilled pork and Pork Cha Gio, and plenty of Thai favorites like Pad Thai, Satay, and four different curries. We decided to try a selection of Japanese and Vietnamese items.
Everything at the E-Cafe seemed to be geared for diners on the go. Both of our entrees were served in lidded plastic trays that could easily be stacked and carted back to the office. Our appetizers came out in Styrofoam clam-shells, and our utensils came inside to-go packs. They are definitely targeting the quick lunch hour crowd.
I popped open my chicken katsu to see golden-brown slices of breaded chicken doused in the familiar dark brown katsu sauce. It was served with a mound of white rice. The chicken was hot, tender, and made extra-flavorful by the savory-sweet sauce.
My wife had the Vietnamese grilled pork, which had thin slices of pork doused in an Asian-style BBQ sauce. I liked the sauce’s unexpected zip of chile, which complimented the familiar sweet n’ savory teriyaki-style flavor nicely.
To round out the meal, we also got a couple of items from the “Asian Tapas” menu. Namely, a big clam-shell full of Edamame and some Vietnamese egg rolls. If you’ve never tried Edamame, you’re missing out! It’s a simple, inexpensive, and yet surprisingly tasty appetizer that you’ll find on just about any Japanese menu. It’s also a fun way to eat your vegetables – popping out the soybeans one by one from the pod into your mouth and then discarding the husk. At E-Cafe they’re the cheapest thing on the menu, and yet they’re surprisingly fulfilling. The Vietnamese egg rolls came out filled with ground pork and veggies and complimented by the trademark thin fish-sauce for dipping. (Don’t let the name “fish sauce” scare you – it actually gives the rolls a nice fresh-tasting tang.)
In conclusion, I’d recommend E-Cafe for anyone that wants to shake up their lunch hour with an interesting mix of Asian specialties without having to wait for a full-service restaurant. Next time, I have to try their Bobas!
Pricing: Approximately $10 per person (entree + appetizer or boba tea)
E-Cafe: 376 E University Parkway, Orem