You would think you’d only see girls in maid-like mini-dresses on Halloween. But now there’s a new place in Davis where employees sport these costumes all year round.
The place is Crepe House Uni (pronounced yoo-nee), a Japanese-style crepe restaurant located on 117 E St.
Unusual uniforms aside, the real highlight of the restaurant is the unique combination of crepes, fruit and gelato ice cream.
The taste, texture and fillings put into the crepes are very different from what you would get at Crepeville, said Sagat Cheung, owner of Crepe House Uni.
“The crepe mix is made from a secret recipe and is imported from Japan,” he said.
Crepe House Uni was created 42 years ago in Japan; the Davis franchise is the first and only one currently operating in the U.S.
As a Davis resident for five years, Cheung said, he opened Crepe House Uni because he felt it was time Davis locals experienced something new.
Since I’ve had dessert crepes before, I wanted to try something more filling on my first visit to the restaurant. From their selection of “Hot Savory Crepes,” I ordered the Hawaiian crepe, containing Canadian bacon, pineapple, mayonnaise and romaine lettuce.
The place was semi-crowded with college students sitting in sleek white chairs around silver tables scattered throughout.
A distinctive feature of the Crepe House Uni’s interior is its shiny, white-lacquered walls that curve up around the ceiling (to create the feeling of sitting inside a dome). Bright green benches stretched along the length of the walls to provide more intimate sitting spaces.
The couples and small groups scattered in the restaurant seemed to enjoy the atmosphere and the Japanese pop music in the background. The music wasn’t overbearing but just loud enough to keep one from eavesdropping on their neighbors – not that I was trying to.
After over 15 minutes of waiting, I approached the counter to ask where my crepe was. I was ignored until I finally spoke up and found out that my order had been forgotten. I won’t lie – I was pretty upset. However, the manager immediately made my crepe and even offered a complimentary 2-ounce gelato of my choice.
Just like at any ice cream or gelato shop, patrons are allowed to try any flavor they want. I chose two flavors: 1 ounce of Thai iced tea and 1 ounce of dolce de leche.
The Thai iced tea gelato was tasty, but the flavor wasn’t as rich as what I’ve had elsewhere. The dolce de leche gelato was delicious on the first bite, but after a few more it became too saccharine even for my sweet tooth.
I then indulged in my crepe, which was held inside a paper cone. There were no forks or spoons so I just bit into it. The crepe was soft and I liked the combination of bacon and pineapple, but it seemed to be lacking flavor. For something “savory,” I felt like it was missing something … well, savory.
I also felt like I’d inhaled my crepe within a matter of seconds. I didn’t expect to be full, but for spending over 5 bucks – I at least expected to feel satiated. Although I didn’t enjoy my crepe as much as I expected, I did appreciate the manager’s sincere efforts to make up for my long wait.
Before writing the place off, I decided to pay them another visit. On my second trip, I ordered their most popular crepe, the Strawberry Banana Choco Fresh for $4.49. I added 2 ounces of Vanilla Bean gelato to my crepe for $1.50.
This time, I observed the way they made my crepe through the clear glass at the front counter. The crepe mix is scooped out and poured onto a griddle for a few minutes. Immediately, the crepe is formed and transferred onto a cooling plate. There, the fillings are assembled and everything is rolled up and placed inside a paper cone.
People in Japan like to eat as they shop and walk around, Cheung said, so it’s easier for them to eat out of their hand than having to stay in the restaurant.
“The crepe mix is specially designed to hold all the ingredients together,” he said. Cheung also flew to Japan to learn special crepe-making techniques, which he taught to the employees.
Just a few minutes after placing my order, I was handed the crepe cone with a small gelato spoon inside. I ditched the spoon and just took a bite out of it.
Surprisingly, it was delicious.
I could taste the light, buttery taste of the crepe along with the cold, rich flavors of the vanilla bean gelato and chocolate syrup. The fresh strawberries and bananas just topped it off as an incredibly blissful dessert.
It didn’t take long for the gelato to melt and the crepe to soften, but it also didn’t take long for me to devour the whole thing. Although this time I paid $6.45 for my crepe and gelato combo, it left me feeling very satisfied.
While my first experience wasn’t stellar, overall, I enjoyed Crepe House Uni.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the savory crepes, but I do highly recommend their dessert crepes. Though a little pricey, they’re definitely worth trying. They’re everything you’d expect in a dessert crepe, and more.
THUY TRAN can be reached at email@example.com.