My then-fiancé and I loved to camp out at World Resource Cafe on Lincoln Road in the ’90s. An order of red Thai curry, pad Thai and a few glass of cheap, over-chilled white wine would keep us hanging out for hours. The check was usually less than 50 bucks. Life was good.
World Resource got even better when veteran restaurateurs Lilly and Tony Takarada took it over, and when it left South Beach, loyal fans wailed.
Their daughter, Yoko Takarada, who is mourning the loss of her parents (they died two weeks apart in the spring) is keeping up the family tradition in Buena Vista under a new name, Shokudo by World Resource Cafe.
She has transformed the former bodega space into a simple, roomy white and gray dining room that is at once elegant and casual, with white orchids and thick, black cloth napkins gracing each white marble table. Outside, sweet jasmine blooms along the vine-lined wall that leads to garden tables and another dining room.
The tightly edited menu is pan-Asian with dishes from Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and China. The name means something like, “The journey of food,” Yoko Takarada explains. “I find it important to find comfort in the things you know or grew up with.”
That explains the range of homey favorites. Banchan or little snacks are lovely to share and get your appetite worked up while looking over the wildly diverse menu. We had spicy kimchi, slippery spinach and salty, pin-size, dried anchovies as chewy as jerky.
It’s thrilling to find a decent rendition of pho, too. Here the broth is complex and beefy while toppings of bean sprouts, chiles, holy basil and mint are super fresh.
House-made dumplings go beyond the usual shrimp or pork to curry potato and turkey. The pork version and the gyoza are equally competent, and buns are addictive with their layers of flavors and textures.
Bibimbap, a filling Korean combo topped with a skillfully fried egg, is just as it should be, with bean sprouts, spinach and shiitake mushrooms tucked beneath hearty rice and noodles. A heaping spoonful of hot sauce lets you choose your burn level.
Executive chef Armando Litiatco cooked at Boulevard in his native San Francisco and at Daniel Boulud’s Restaurant Daniel in New York before being lured here by the Takarada clan. The culinary team is on view in the vibrant kitchen, as are the giggling pair of Spanish-speaking chefs behind the sushi bar who seem to know their stuff. The fish we tasted in several rolls was fresh, but the cloudy glass case meant we couldn’t see what was what inside.
And someone in the kitchen needs to sharpen their knives. The julienned green peppers in one dish were more like oddly conjoined triplets, and chicken chunks showed up strung together like sausage links. But these are minor gaffes at a winning spot.
A serviceable wine list sports names like Jordan and Hogue, but the real finds are the high-end, unfiltered sakes such as Kamoizumi Nigori Ginjo and Tedorigawa Yamahai Daiginjo.
The staff is personable but also gave us plenty of time and privacy. Everyone we encountered, from waitress to busboy and hostess, made us feel at home.
Desserts range from Asian standards like mochi ice cream balls and fried spring rolls to a miraculously airy flourless chocolate cake draped in a dark chocolate sauce with a hint of cardamom and crushed macadamia nuts.
Just as delicious is the thought of bringing my kids here to regale them with stories of when their dad and I were young.