Local food industry veterans Miju Kawai and Hiroshi Kawai are aiming to open a darling little Japanese cafe this week or the next with their daughter, Moeno. The 16 seater is called Basho, which means “place” in Japanese. It’s located at 2007 East Hastings St., just a block east of Victoria Drive.
Hiroshi and Miju are lifers. They owned a neighbourhood lunch spot in Yokohama before moving to Canada to open North Van’s Kokoro eatery in 1994. After selling it nearly a decade later, they opened Hiroshi’s Sushi Creations on Oak Street in 2005 (it’s now called Tokiwa).
Inspired by the neighbourhood coffee shops that they loved and hung out in on adventures in Tokyo and Berlin, the Kawai’s want Basho to be a den of coziness with small personal touches that give off genuine warmth. Almost everything in Basho is handmade by the family, from the furniture and stained glass by Hiroshi to the pottery, quilts and knits by Miju and the aprons and wood carvings by Moeno. All the plates, cups, and dishes were either sourced from local thrift stores or made by hand. The music is all vinyl.
In addition to Japanese sencha, genmaicha and bancha, Basho will be steeping 3 black teas, 1 rooibos, and 1 herbal tea, plus coffee from Hand Works Coffee Studio. For food, there will be lunch sets of salads, sandwiches, and rice bowls, not to mention house-baked sweets. Expect matcha flavours, Japanese style crème caramels, and mochi.
As it stands now, they’re just one permit away from unlocking their doors. When they get the green light, the hours will be Tuesday through Friday from 7:30am to 4:30pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 4pm. In the meantime, you can follow them and stay up to date on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.