The sky is celebrating breast cancer awareness month.
Only jingoistic freedom fryers and six-year-olds order hamburgers at Asian restaurants. And, really, it's neither group's fault; they've no doubt been outvoted and damn near shoved through the door by their dining companions or parents.
Cheeky Café, which opened in June where the Central District meets the ID, offers a unique solution to this dilemma. For one, while undeniably Asian-influenced, it's not really an Asian restaurant. Doesn't sound like one, doesn't look like one, and has a menu that gives but a thickly-crusted whiff of one. More importantly, its hamburger isn't half-assed by some understandably insulted Szechuan master working the grill. Rather, it's the sort of John & Yoko/Russell & Kimora/CD-ID mutt that might get that six-year-old begging mom for pot stickers before he learns to write in cursive.
It's no wonder, then, that Cheeky Café's executive chef, Kiyomi Rankin, is half-Japanese and half-Scottish. Her menu, loosely defined as "comfort food from both sides of the Pacific," according to house manager John Pickens-Green, celebrates such exotic pairings like a tornado will swoop up the dining room if fusion cooking isn't pushed past comically broad constraints. The Cheeky Burger is a burger insofar as it contains a patty, tomato, lettuce, and onions on a toasted bun. But blending green onions and ginger into the beef and topping it with katsu sauce and Japanese mayo is hardly something you'll see attempted beneath the golden arches.
Pickens-Green hails from Chicago, while Cheeky's owners, sisters May and Wendy Wong, are Chinese. The café puts Kim chi and Four Sisters chili sauce in its macaroni and cheese and meatloaf in its loco moco, deep fries its peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, serves oxtail soup every Wednesday, slathers cranberry-hoisin sauce on its chicken wings, serves stuffed French toast and sugared fry bread for brunch, and features such specials as pernil (Puerto Rican pork shoulder) and sweet potato chipotle soup.
"We have a very multicultural staff," explains Pickens-Green. "Really the only limit to what we won't cook is based on what we keep in the house."
That house is the size of Jay-Z's sprawling hideaway in Turks & Caicos, one imagines.