Oahu is flush with some of the best plate lunch vendors in the world, but when Chris and Rosario “Kakay” Tarvyd started selling crepes at the island’s festivals and fairs, the business proved an instant hit in the face of fierce competition.
The couple opened their restaurant, Crepes No Ka ’Oi (which literally translates to “crepes are the best”), in 2008, serving creative renditions of the European crepe to a loyal and ever-growing clientele.
Bringing Hawaiian Crepes to Tokyo
Unlike on Oahu, these treats have been a sweet staple of Tokyo pedestrian life for many years now, but the new branch of Crepes No Ka ’Oi in Jiyugaoka introduces fusion food concepts and distinctly Hawaiian-American flavors to the city’s crepe scene. The restaurant design, with its airy windows, bar-style area and domestic decor, speaks to the relaxed sophistication central to the restaurant’s character.
Although it is but a 10-minute train ride away from Shibuya, Jiyugaoka is a lowkey neighborhood, and particularly friendly to visitors. The stylish cafés and walking streets evocative of Paris give the area a distinctly European look. The mission of No Ka ’Oi’s first overseas enterprise, then, is to transport the aroma and the relaxed atmosphere of the Hawaii creperie to a trendy corner of Tokyo.
In a fast-paced city with no lack of standing restaurants and conbini, this eatery welcomes customers to relax and keep from overexerting themselves. The homey interior certainly makes it easy to do so. In true Jiyugaoka fashion (that is to mean in vaguely European style), you can even sit outside to tuck in.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Don’t think your options are limited to sweet crepes or a morning meal. The restaurant offers breakfast, savory crepes and dessert options. A wide range of beverages, from soy lattes to guava juice to mimosas, suits all dining occasions.
Original No Ka ’Oi notables find their way on the Japanese menu – these include the Hawaiian Sugar (a breakfast crepe of melted butter, raw cane sugar and fresh lemon juice, topped with a healthy dusting of powdered sugar) and the Tiki Torch (containing housemade basil and macadamia pesto, oven-roasted chicken breast, spinach, tomatoes and sauteed onions, with a side of balsamic vinegar).
The creperie can satisfy just about any craving, from sweet to savory, healthy to hearty. Say you’re looking for a filling breakfast: you can opt for the sweet and simple Hawaiian Sugar, or a dish reminiscent of a loaded breakfast burrito, coined the “Southwest.” Health-conscious brunchers will love a simpler option with non-fat yogurt, honey, granola, fresh strawberries and banana.
Sweet and Savory
The breakfast plates are available all day, but the lunch and dessert options are many and just as enticing. No Ka ’Oi is known not only for ingredients unique to Hawaii, but also inventive food combinations.
On top of the Tiki Torch, lunch options include Parisian renditions of the beloved dishes like pizza (the Killa Pizza, like a margherita topped with pepperoni and mushrooms) and the cubano (the Island Cubano, which comes with horseradish pickle chips and cilantro).
From Oahu to Tokyo
Consider splitting your meal between savory and sweet plates. Imports from Hawaii include Banana Split, which revises the famous dessert by adding macadamia nuts and Hawaiian sea salt caramel. The Temptation in Paradise riffs on another American confection: this crepe, with apples baked in brown sugar and cinnamon, is topped with graham crackers and vanilla ice cream.
Dessert devotees can also choose from Japan exclusives like the Big Luck, evocative of taiyaki or dorayaki with sweet beans, melted butter, strawberries, gyuhi (a more delicate version of mochi) and koshihikari rice ice cream.
Crepes No Ka ’Oi started as a casual eatery with local flavor, and even as it expands into Tokyo it will always be that way, welcoming city residents and wayfarers with a relaxed sophistication and all-day brunch.