Simplicity is often a good thing when it comes to dining. 6 Day Cafe (it's open six days a week and closed on Sundays) is simple in name and other respects. The space is small with only five tables, the kitchen is open, and the only cooks or servers you'll ever see are husband and wife owners Won-Shik and Jae Ham.
If the Hams hadn't told me their restaurant was named based of their hours of operation, I might have thought it was because it feels as though it takes six days to get your order or read through the menu.
The list of offerings is eight pages long and diverse, including everything from sushi rolls to eel dup bap (eel, rice and vegetables) and roast beef sandwiches. It's a flaw common to small restaurant operations, especially new ones -- 6 Day Cafe opened five months ago. They want to serve you everything, but they lack the staff to prepare it efficiently.
My party and I -- the only patrons in the cafe -- waited about 55 minutes for five items. However, we were not disappointed with one dish. Everything was fresh, prepared from scratch as we waited (and waited) and beautifully presented with garnishes. Most also came with miso soup and salad.
The 6 Day Sandwich ($8.95) was definitely the favorite. It was prepared with Korean bulgogi (marinated and barbecued beef), mushrooms, red peppers, onions and veggies on a fresh, soft bun. It was huge and could easily satisfy two to three people, especially with the soup and salad (served with dressings and cheese) that came on the side.
Another success was the vegetable udon ($8.95), a large serving of miso-based soup filled with thick noodles, mushrooms, cabbage, red pepper and scallions. The vegetables were perfectly cooked-- neither too crisp or soggy -- a sign it was prepared with care.
My table also shared the six-piece gyoza dumplings ($5.95). Cooked with a small amount of oil instead of fried or steamed, the surprisingly tender dumpling had a rich chicken filling and crisp underside. Even in the face of all of our food and subsiding appetites, not one remained.
Still it is hard to ignore how painful the wait for our food actually was. While we watched the couple work so diligently and carefully through each of our dishes, Christian music blared from a boom box at one end of the cafe. When we asked what happened when all of the tables were filled, the Hams just laughed.
On my next visit I brought a friend who, like me, loves sushi. We intended to try two of the rolls that 6 Day Cafe offers all day. The Dragon Roll ($10.95), a traditional seaweed and rice roll with crab meat, avocado, cucumber and unagi (barbecued eel) was phenomenal. The cut of the eel extended beyond the length of the roll in an elegant swoop and was marinated in a sweet and spicy sauce that kept me licking my fingers.
The California Roll ($6.95), generously coated with savory tobiko (flying fish roe), was beautiful and satisfying as well. It would be especially fitting for diners who enjoy more American-style rolls. Prepared with cooked crab meat, avocado, cucumber and sesame seeds, it wasn't anything spectacular to a sushi connoisseur, but it was a beautifully presented roll of simple flavors with good proportions.
However, the wait was, again, a bit agonizing. Our two rolls cost us 35 minutes in wait time, set to the same CD as the last visit.
In spite of the wait, everything about 6 Day Cafe is charming, even if a little inconvenient or quirky, and I'm rooting for it. Its best chance at success is to re-create a menu that matches the simplicity of the cafe. If it focused on dishes, like the bulgogi sandwich, that are hard to find elsewhere and the cafe makes really well, it could cut down on wait time without sacrificing the level of care that currently goes into the creation and presentation of each dish.
In addition to lunch and dinner options, the cafe offers a limited brunch menu with ham and cheese croissants, salmon spread bagels, as well as espresso beverages prepared with Kaladi espresso beans.
They also have several dessert items on the current menu -- mousse cake, cheesecake and ice cream -- though none of these, along with several other menu items were available on either of my visits.
Don't get me wrong -- I will go back, and I will mostly likely order the bulgogi sandwich or vegetable udon, but this time I will call ahead.
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Worth the wait