First Impressions: Konjoe Tei and The Fountainhead (San Jose, CA)

On a warm and mellow Tuesday night, I took my father here as a belated Father’s Day outing. I figured he would appreciate the thought of one his son’s taking him out to dinner, and later that evening I was pleased to find out that I made a good call.I took him to the SoFa market in downtown San Jose. It had recently opened up, with a few establishments already in operation: Vero’s Coffee, The Flipside, Konjoe Tei and The Fountainhead Bar. That night, we would be visiting both Konjoe Tei and The Fountainhead to get a first impression on the two places.

We started off at Konjoe Tei, which bills itself as an Izakaya and Ramen shop. For those of you not familiar with the word, Izakaya is a Japanese style establishment similar to a pub or bar, where food is served alongside beer and sake, which are popular in Japan as an after hours meeting place for both blue and white collar working people.

We sat alongside a bar area, where our food was being prepared on the other side. My father oredered the Shiyo Ramen, while I ordered the rice bowl. While we waited, we took in our surroundings which were clean, modest and simple, a nod to the Japanese aesthetic in high end and specialty dining establishments.

While, in my dad’s opinion, the bowl was a bit light on the vegetables and roughage so to speak, he enjoyed the broth in the bowl as being well seasoned and interesting without being too salty. As for the noodles, I remember my dad asking me (A Japanese minor in college) what the Japanese word for Al Dente would be and described the noodles as being “yeah…like that”. (Upon further investigation, the closest equivalent word would be Katame)
As for my rice bowl, I found the soft and fluffy white rice a great base for the mixture of kim chee, jalapenos and seasoned meat. The Kim chee acted as sort of a palate cleanser for each of the flavors I was experiencing, while the jalapeno’s gave it a heat that wasn’t too searing. Overall, it was a great experience for me as well.
One thing we neglected to do was check out the appetizers. Knojoe Tei does offer somne decent looking appetizers like Chicken Karrage and Pork Crostini, but wether due to negligence or a desire to get to the good stuff, we went straight to ordering our entrees.After dinner, we went to a bar right across from Konjoe Tei called The Fountainhead Bar. Established as a craft bar by the owner, a former architect, the place has a very handcrafted feel to it, similar to the drinks they produce.

My father ordered a gin and tonic drink with blueberries infused into called “The Postmodern”. My dad, being the gin connoiseur gave it a pretty good review and found the addition of blueberries to the drink quite interesting.
After talking with the bartender behind the counter, we found the names of their various craft cocktails interesting as they were hommages to both architechture and the work of Ayn Rand (of which the name The Fountainhead comes from). I ordered a beer from one of their taps for myself and enjoyed the experience at the bar, which was understandably mellow for a Tuesday night in the summer.My overall first impressions of both places were positive. I enjoyed the communial atmosphere and open arrangement of the place. My father did as well and as far as I was concerned, I had given him a very good belated father’s day gift.

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