Fate (now Nine 05) was a favorite restaurant of mine as soon as I tried it. It was in a run-down old house, and my first time there, the bathroom still had a shower, and a shower curtain. Over the years, my favorite back room for eating in was converted into more bathrooms and storage, and the house’s original bathroom with a shower was converted into a spacious handicapped bathroom. There were many other changes, and the city permits took years to go through. In the end, I find that I love it even more now with its improvements. (Although the first date I took Rob on we sat in the long-ago converted back room, and I do miss the privacy that room afforded diners.)
The house next door has become part of the whole Fate experience, and has a full bar. But alas, the best part of Fate was Johnny Chu, the devoted owner, chef, often hostess, and all-around energetic force behind the unique little spot. Now that Johnny is gone, it’s not quite the same…
I went to Johnny’s new restaurant, called Sens Asian Tappas on 1st Street just north of Fillmore. I had heard several months ago that Johnny moved on to something else, so I had to see what that something else was.
I’ve always liked Johnny. I used to work at a restaurant downtown that was also in a historic house like Fate, and Johnny came to check it out after it opened. The restaurant didn’t end up working out, but Johnny was supportive through the attempt, and I was always grateful for that. It’s been so many years (five, in fact) and I don’t see a glimmer of recognition in his eyes anymore when he sees me. The poor guy has too much on his mind, I suppose. Sens Asian Tappas is a place that requires a lot of work, because the plates are small and the prices are high enough that the quality has to be excellent for people to come back.
Now, the quality is excellent, I have to say. The fresh wasabi is amazing, and the duck was to die for in its citrus sauce (such a creative taste to pair with duck!) Still, as much as I would hate to give any restaurant Johnny owned a bad review, I do have to admit that Sens Asian Tappas is a little out of my price range for the moment. That’s not Johnny’s fault- it’s mine. I haven’t been able to land a full-time job with medical insurance since I graduated. And with another radiation treatment likely in my future, I would probably get fired anyway for taking too much time off. So, a $60 meal is an awful lot to me right now. If it was not, I would eat at Sens Asian Tappas often. The food was great! But the portions are very small, and Rob and I ordered five dishes to share just to fill up.
While Sens Asian Tappas is right next to the new ASU downtown campus, Johnny is not worried about students coming in. He said the downtown crowd was enough to sustain Fate, and so it should be enough to sustain Sens as well. The students would be a bonus, but that’s all. Fair enough. It’s a bit too classy for drunken college kids.
Sens is definitely worth seeing for yourself, with its nifty wall designs and classy atmosphere. There is a DJ mixing hip music and the sake bar is full of tasty treats (they do have a full bar though; not just Sake.)
And as with the first time I visited awhile ago, it’s good for a snack. If you just want to grab some tofu on the way to class, this is the place to go. The tofu is filling, and only $4.