The Japanese Combo Breakfast at JK’s Table in Edina
JK’s is located in an office building in a land of office parks. With its synthetic, bare tabletops, plastic chairs, and tile floor, it has the feel of a short-order canteen, but at lunchtime, it serves hordes of hungry workers freshly prepared, tasty rice bowls, noodle dishes, and sandwiches.
And from 8-10:30 a.m. on weekdays, there’s Japanese breakfast.
The Japanese Style Combo Breakfast ($10) is traditional, something that you might eat at home or at a simple restaurant in Japan. We’re also nostalgic for the elaborate — also traditional — ryokan breakfast (see photo at the end of the article), but that’s another thing. The charm of a Japanese breakfast (elaborate or simple) is that you can take a bite here and a bite there to experience the flavors in various combinations. JK’s combo had a good assortment of dishes to work with and was delicate but filling.
We began with a classic Miso Soup. It was warming and calming, simply garnished with green onions and seaweed.
The grilled mackerel seasoned with salt (Saba Sioyaki, usually spelled shioyaki) was well-cooked without being dry, and although mackerel is an oily fish, the flavor leaned more toward the fresh and mild than the strong and “fishy.” The skin was tasty but might have been crisper. The fish, sampled along with the Daikon Oshinko (pickle) and a drop of soy sauce, made for a bright flavor package.
The rice came sprinkled with gomashio and bits of nori and was a good companion to the fish. The topping was loaded with umami and gave the rice enough interest to eat on its own.
I’m not sure avocado is the best choice of vegetable for a gomaae dressing (made from ground sesame seeds, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar). It’s about texture. The dressing is thick and rich, which fits my description of an avocado. I would have loved the crispness of green beans here. But the flavor of the avocado came through, and overall, the Avocado Gomaae was delicious.
The salad greens were a standard mix, and their sesame-oil dressing was nicely balanced.
Japanese omelets (Tamagoyaki) are made in a rectangular pan. A thin layer of egg beaten with mirin and soy is poured into the pan, and, when it is lightly set, rolled. The process is repeated until an attractive spiral of omelet is formed. JK’s example was just as it should have been — tender and flavorful, and attractively speckled with green-onion bits. I prefer my eggs more thoroughly amalgamated for appearance and mouth feel, but since the omelet was not overcooked, the white and yolk portions remained similarly yielding, and there was no hint of the slimy unpalatability of overcooked egg white.
Our tea (Genmaicha, $1.75) was refreshing and not bitter (a problem when Japanese tea is brewed at too high a temperature), but in Japan, the brewing basket would not have been left in contact with the tea.
One nostalgia-inducing quirk was that although our trays were brought to our table, we were not given napkins. We would have had to get up and take some from the order counter. But that would have diminished the nostalgia — napkins are not generally offered in Japan. People sometimes carry cloths of their own, and in large cities, businesses distribute tissue packets on the street.
We have a good feeling about our meal at JK’s. While the food was not elevated or inventive, it wasn’t meant to be. It was a freshly prepared traditional Japanese breakfast that, to my knowledge, can be found locally only there.
Japanese breakfast and lunch in Edina
7401 Metro Blvd. Suite 155
Edina, MN 55439
Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $4-$10
NOISE LEVEL: Quiet at breakfast; comfortable at lunch