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If youâ€™re looking for a visually appealing restaurant, then Cafe Maji is the place for you. With decorative cups of latte art, wooden utensils and drinks served in mason jars, this cafeâ€™s aesthetic features make up for its average food.
Located on the second story of the Arcadia Fitness Sports Club, it was a struggle to find Cafe Maji. Once inside the gym, I was immediately drawn to the chalk board sign that directed me upstairs to where the restaurant was. Suddenly, a stern voice broke off my eagerness to head upstairs; a lady had instructed me to put my name down on her clipboard. The odd location and process of signing in had already given me a bad first impression.
Once seated, I inspected the intricate details of each decoration placed around the room. The succulent plants scattered around the place gave a calm and relaxing vibe, and it felt almost as if I were in an indoor garden. There were clear jars filled with cookies and pastries lined up on the counter, wooden figurines on the shelves and a wall tacked with adorable handwritten notes and letters by former customers.
Although the menu had a limited selection of food, there were more than enough drinks for me to choose from. Ranging from lemonades to lattes to milkshakes, Cafe Maji had it all. I finally decided to start off with the Iced French Vanilla Mocha Latte, though I was a bit hesitant because it cost $6. During my first sip, a harsh, unpleasant bitterness hit the back of my tongue, completely washing out the sweetness of the whipped cream and chocolate syrup. After I requested for the waiter to add more vanilla, all the flavors were more balanced and nothing was too overwhelming.
I also tried the classic refreshing strawberry lemonade, which reminded me of a hot summer day. Its tart lemon flavor was more distinct than the almost nonexistent hint of strawberry. It was served in a mini glass pitcher topped off with slices of lemon and strawberry, along with a cream puff on the side. This beverageâ€™s picture-worthy, pink-to-yellow ombrĂ© looked so nice that I almost didnâ€™t want to drink it.
To go with my drinks, I ordered the cafeâ€™s specialty: the Bulgogi Quesadilla. The warm, toasted tortilla had gooey, melted mozzarella cheese, crunchy and spicy jalapeĂ±os and chunks of amazingly marinated Korean barbeque beef. Served in a small portion of four pieces, this delicious appetizer was not filling but had the perfect ratio of meat to cheese.
Looking for a more hearty meal, I came across the Spicy Chipotle Club Sandwich with a small fruit salad. The two perfectly grilled slices of bread were filled with ham, bacon, cheese, olives, pickles, tomatoes, onions and lettuce smeared with mustard and mayonnaise. By looking at each component, you can tell how the chef takes the time to craft the ideal sandwich. Expecting the sandwich to be somewhat spicy, I was a bit disappointed when it wasnâ€™t. The first bite was tasty and flavorful, but after a few more, the sauce-drenched bread became soggy and the components tasted boring. The little cup of strawberries, blueberries, chopped honeydew and grapes on the side added a burst of flavor, helping me swallow the insipid sandwich.
Regardless of the weird location, the beverage-heavy menu and overpriced food, Cafe Maji is a diamond in the rough. With its variety of drink options and eye-catching facility, it is worth visiting only if youâ€™re willing to spend your money on satisfactory quality of food.
By Olivia Chiang, Staff writer