Review: Cafe Nippon

[Content Note: Ads]
Cafe Nippon
by Kairosoft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It really should not come as a surprise to me how much I love this game, since I love pretty much all the Kairosoft time-sink games and I love restaurant management simulation games so, so much, but good-grief-on-a-gravy-roll I love this game. I can't stop playing it.

As far as this review goes, it's going to be a slim one. The game is your usual time-sink Kairosoft fare with lots of cute cartoony graphics, more stats than you can shake a stick at, never quite enough money to go around, perfect pacing that keeps you on your toes without being overwhelming, and -- if you're like me -- it brings out your inner MinMaxer and you find yourself save scumming until you manage to recruit, yes, Minnie Max. Oh, Kairosoft, you know me too well.

Cafeteria Nipponica

So since I have very little of value to say in the form of a review, here instead is a BIG HONKING FAQ because I am just nerdy enough to write one and I could never find a comprehensive one in English that wasn't on the registered-users-only Kairosoft forums, so it might as well be me. Here are some tips, in no particular order.

1. Financing. Don't spend any money between Month 1 and Month 4. In Month 4, you pay your staff and it is always more than you expect it to be, and you do not want to be in debt and have to forgo your Month 4 ingredient gathering trip.

2. Staffing. If you can afford the $300 recruiting fee, hire someone every time "Recruit Staff" comes available and stuff them in the Break Room. There's a finite number of people in the game and you will need all of them eventually. (Some of them are far superior to others, though, so if you don't mind Save Scumming at the beginning of the game, try for Jim Maxwell, Iggy Hop, Yan Fields, Cat Kidman, Minnie Max, and Manford Cups.)

3. Staff Stats. Floor servers need speed and Walk Fast.  Kitchen cooks need cooking and Cooking Up and Research Up. Specializing based on dish type (Chinese, Japanese, Western, Snacks, Dessert) never really seemed worth it to me.

4. Staff Feeding. For the love of donuts, do not feed meals to your staff unless you have 3+ of the meal in question. Counter intuitively, a meal can either be slotted at your restaurants (of which you will have three) or fed to the staff, but not both: once that meal is consumed, you don't have it any more to slot. Apparently a meal is stored at a store location and pieces of it are served to the customers, with the Parent Meal regenerating in the freezer overnight. If a staff member eats the mothership, it's gone forever.

5. Menu Planning. Where you can gather ingredients depends on where you have open stores. Dairy and grain products are largely confined to the early areas you will later abandon (you can only have 3 stores and there are 5 locations). Seafood absolutely dominates the second half of the game, so it's a good idea to organize your menu around that. (Much to my personal sorrow.)

6. Dish Maxing. Pick a dish that you can level up early on in order to get the cash coming in as quickly as possible. Note that all dishes have caps on their taste and appeal, so you can't just pick whatever you personally like and level it to kingdom come. (See spreadsheet!)

7. Celebrity Chefs. I won't touch 'em. They're obscenely expensive to hire and maintain, and I never once needed them. At end game (Year 15, when you score the game and enter sandbox mode), I had Jim Maxwell at 714 cooking skill and 61 research points and I had my Top Class Sushi dish at $55, 847 taste, and 860 appeal. (And Iggy Pop starts out stronger than many of the celebrity chefs do!)

8. Orange Crates. Orange Crate tables (Veggie Market) are ugly. They're also $100, which means that when you spend your last thousand opening a new restaurant, you can still stuff it to the brim with tables without having to break the bank. 

And now some spreadsheets! LINK! And in less-tabular, more web-friendly form:

Local Woods
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Udon, Recipe: Yaki Onigiri
Treasure 2 -- Recipe: Fried Rice, Table: Popular Table
Treasure 3 -- Recipe: Salad, Money: 5K

Steep Hills
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Toast, Equipment: Bookshelf
Treasure 2 -- Recipe: Spaghetti, Table: Chinese Table
Treasure 3 -- Recipe: Rice Omelette
Treasure 4 -- Equipment: Toy Corner

Local Farm
Treasure 1 -- Table: Pop Table
Treasure 2 -- Table: Oak Cask
Treasure 3 -- Recipe: Karaage
Treasure 4 -- Recipe: Seafood Soup
Treasure 5 -- Equipment: Audio Set

Green Pasture
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Ice Cream, Table: Chinese Counter
Treasure 2 -- Dish: Omelette
Treasure 3 -- Equipment: Public Phone
Treasure 4 -- Dish: Stew, Money: 10K

Treasure 1 -- Dish: Sauteed Chicken, Table: Standard Sofa
Treasure 2 -- Table: Red Table
Treasure 3 -- Equipment: Vending Machine, Unlocks Local Farm Treasure 3
Treasure 4 -- Table: Simple Room

Veggie Market
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Karaage, Table: Luxury Set
Treasure 2 -- Table: Orange Crate
Treasure 3 -- Recipe: Bird's Nest Soup

Fish Market 
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Salad, Table: Simple Counter
Treasure 2 -- Dish: Shumai
Treasure 3 -- Table: Relaxing Sofa
Treasure 4 -- Dish: Salad
Treasure 5 -- Table: Bench

Craggy Rocks
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Grilled Fish, Recipe: Chocolate Parfait
Treasure 2 -- Table: Western Sofa
Treasure 3 -- Recipe: Kid's Lunch
Treasure 4 -- Table: Dining Sofa

Fisher's House
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Grilled Fish
Treasure 2 -- Table: Arcade Game
Treasure 3 -- Recipe: Steak
Treasure 4 -- Table: White Sofa

Contract Farmer
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Toast
Treasure 2 -- Equipment: Aquarium
Treasure 3 -- Recipe: Tempura
Treasure 4 -- Table: Simple Sofa

Top Fish Market
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Shumai
Treasure 2 -- Table: Student Set
Treasure 3 -- Recipe: Meat Stir Fry
Treasure 4 -- Table: Luxury Sofa
Treasure 5 -- Table: Japanese Set, Dish: Tuna Bowl, Money: 10 K

Associated Store
Treasure 1 -- Recipe: Nimono
Treasure 2 -- Table: Luxury Counter
Treasure 3 -- Recipe: Top Grade Sushi
Treasure 4 -- Recipe: Berry Parfait

Dept. Store
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Miso Soup
Treasure 2 -- Table: Office Set
Treasure 3 -- Recipe: Ikizukuri
Treasure 4 -- Dish: Corn Chowder

NY Market
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Toast
Treasure 2 -- Table: Luxury Room
Treasure 3 -- Dish: Hamburger
Treasure 4 -- Dish: Pasta Carbonara

Kairo Island
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Ice Cream
Treasure 2 -- Table: Relaxing Room
Treasure 3 -- Recipe: Gratin
Treasure 4 -- Equipment: Grand Piano
Treasure 5 -- Table: Floor Cushion Set
Treasure 6 -- Equipment: Gold Kairobot

Recipe Base Recipe Ingredient 1 Ingredient 2 Category Taste Appeal
Ankake Yakisoba Yakisoba Tasty Fish

BBQ Pork Ramen Ramen Top Class Pork Garlic Chinese 480 380
Beef Curry Curry and Rice Marbled Beef
Western 580 600
Beef Stew Stew Tomato Marbled Beef Western 420 380
Berry Parfait Parfait Strawberry
Dessert 320 220
Bird's Nest Soup Shark Fin Soup Caviar Foie Gras Chinese 999 999
Caesar Salad Salad Lettuce Aged Cheese Western 250 240
Champon Udon Chinese Cabbage
Japanese 250 120
Chicken Bowl Rice Boned Chicken
Japanese 180 120
Chilled Noodles Ramen Mild Vinegar Hot Spices Chinese 220 120
Chocolate Parfait Parfait Chocolate
Dessert 250 280
Combo Ramen Ramen Soy Sauce Fresh Eggs Chinese 250 220
Corn Chowder Seafood Soup Sweet Corn
Western 180 100
Crab Fried Rice Fried Rice King Crab Mild Vinegar Chinese 360 350
Croquette Karaage Top Class Pork Northern Potato Western 280 280
Curry and Rice Fried Rice Hot Spice
Western 100 100
Doughnut Ice Cream Flour
Dessert 280 280
Eel Bowl Chicken Bowl Tasty Fish Secret Sauce Japanese 380 450
French Fries Toast Northern Potato
Snacks 100 100
Fried Rice Rice Carrot
Chinese 120 80
Fried Udon Udon Soy Sauce Sweet Corn Japanese 160 100
Gold Ice Cream Ice Cream Gold Flakes
Dessert 999 999
Gratin Croquette Thick Butter Fresh Milk Western 420 480
Grilled Fish - Craggy Rocks -

Japanese 100 100
Gyoza Shumai Green Onion Ginger Chinese 250 280
Hamburger Toast Marbled Beef
Snacks 250 150
Hamburger Steak Sauteed Chicken Marbled Beef Carrot Western 520 500
Hayashi Rice Curry and Rice Tomato
Western 280 240
Hot Pot Seafood Soup Chinese Cabbage Boned Chicken Japanese 320 220
Ice Cream - Green Pasture - 

Dessert 100 100
Ikizukuri Sashimi Sea Bream Squid Japanese 999 999
Indian Curry Curry and Rice Flour Herbs Western 400 320
Japanese Pasta Spaghetti Mushroom Spinach Western 280 240
Kaiseki Cuisine Sashimi Tasty Fish Matsutake Japanese 999 999
Karaage Toast Boned Chicken
Snacks 190 75
Kid's Lunch Hamburger Steak Marbled Beef Secret Sauce Western 999 999
Meat Gyoza Gyoza Top Class Pork
Chinese 210 150
Meat Sauce Pasta Spaghetti Top Class Pork Tomato Western 380 420
Meat Stir Fry Veggie Stir Fry Top Class Pork Kikurage Chinese 320 220
Minestrone Soup Corn Chowder Tomato Onion Western 480 480
Miso Ramen Ramen Special Miso Sweet Corn Chinese 237 280
Miso Soup Seafood Soup Tofu
Japanese 100 100
Nimono Veggie Stir Fry Pumpkin Daikon Radish Japanese 250 240
Okonomiyaki Shumai Flour Secret Sauce Japanese 320 220
Omelette Rice Fresh Eggs
Western 100 80
Onigiri Rice Dried Seaweed
Snacks 100 100
Parfait Ice Cream Cherry
Dessert 250 100
Pasta Carbonara Spaghetti Fresh Milk Fresh Eggs Western 250 220
Pizza Toast Aged Cheese Top Class Pork Western 280 220
Pizza Toast Toast Tomato
Snacks 200 150
Pork Bowl Chicken Bowl Top Class Pork Onion Japanese 200 160
Pork Bun Shumai Top Class Pork
Snacks 380 320
Pork Cutlet Karaage Top Class Pork Cabbage Japanese 250 220
Pudding Ice Cream Fresh Eggs
Dessert 220 120
Ramen Udon Boned Chicken
Chinese 100 100

Snacks 60 150
Rice Omelette Omelette Organic Rice
Western 200 150
Rice Porridge Hot Pot Organic Rice
Japanese 150 120
Salad Toast Lettuce
Western 120 55
Sashimi Grilled Fish Tasty Fish Soy Sauce Japanese 480 410
Sauteed Chicken

Western 100 100
Seafood Gyoza Gyoza Top Class Shrimp Cabbage Chinese 402 350
Seafood Salad Salad Octopus
Western 220 120
Seafood Soup Udon Secret Sauce
Japanese 80 60
Shark Fin Soup Seafood Soup Tasty Fish Secret Sauce Chinese 420 420
Shumai Rice Top Class Pork
Chinese 65 100
Soba - Received from Hina upon eating Crab Fried Rice (?) -
100 100
Spaghetti Udon Herbs
Western 180 80
Steak Sauteed Chicken Boned Chicken Green Onion Western 330 300
Stew Corn Chowder Boned Chicken Northern Potato Western 250 280
Sumo Stew Hot Pot Top Class Pork Prize Mushroom Japanese 480 350
Takoyaki Pork Bun Flour Octopus Snacks 280 280
Tempura Croquette Top Class Shrimp Tasty Fish Japanese 450 450
Toast Rice Flour
Snacks 100 65
Top Grade Sushi Sashimi Organic Rice Soy Sauce Japanese 999 999
Tuna Bowl Rice Tasty Fish Soy Sauce Japanese 420 420
Udon - Local Woods -

Japanese 110 100
Veggie Stir Fry Salad Carrot Cabbage Chinese 250 120
Yaki Onigiri Onigiri Soy Sauce
Snacks 100 100
Yakiniku Hot Pot Marbled Beef Secret Sauce Japanese 800 800
Yakisoba Soba Cabbage

131 65
Yakitori Hamburger Steak Top Class Shrimp Organic Rice Japanese 480 350


Loquat said...

And now I'm tempted to go dig up my old crafting spreadsheets for Aion...

Randomosity said...

I'm looking at your list of recipes and there are a few I want to actually try to make in the real world. I enjoy cooking, and since in order to avoid high fructose corn syrup, I have to make everything from scratch anyway, having some ideas of other things to make is awesome.

All I need is a basic idea and I go from there. As a kid, I never saw a cookbook, and learned how to make most things (like homemade noodles) by intuition from Grandma, who was a cook in a household rich enough to afford servants.

Laocorn said...

This one had flown under my radar! I enjoyed _Diner Dash_ a few years ago, but this game looks much more engaging anyhow. Unfortunately, I've already put too much on my plate, pun intended. Still, it's nice to see Japanese food (in localized media, natch) depicted outside of just sushi and teriyaki.

Come to think of it, I'm reminded a little bit of that classic _River City Ransom_, although that game was from the customers' point of view. In that one, 1P or 2P would build up his/her fighters' stats by eating out at a variety of (mostly working class) places.

As for preparing Japanese or Nipponized Western dishes at home -- though I speak here as not much of a cook myself -- I think that one could go with worse than the recipes and advice given in _Cooking with *a* Dog_:

Storiteller said...

This looks hilarious. I want to get my husband, who is a professional cook, to play this in preparation for one day running his own restaurant. The part about running out of money is very true to life!

Dav said...

That video reminds me: I really, really want a set of mise en place bowls. No desire for a poodle. Thank goodness.

I always enjoyed the puzzling out of recipes for Harvest Moon. Not a lot of rhyme or reasons, and it was interesting to see regional differences. (My dad would never dream of making scrambled eggs without milk, for instance.)

Mmm. Omelette rice. The one fusion comfort dish I can manage with any quantity of success. All soft and warm and ketchupy . . .

Be right back.

Laocorn said...

If chances come up, I would recommend at least trying other fusion dishes before you knock them, even if you may still find them hit-and-miss. Speaking only for myself: I'm no fan of Japanese curry or of "hayashi rice", as popular as they may be with all age groups in Japan. On the other hand, gyudon, a.k.a beef bowl, was my favorite culinary thing in the world when I had a job which involved a lot more manual labor.

Omuraisu/Omelette Rice is indeed pretty good! The ketchupy aspect you speak of is sort of the "default" recipe since there are a lot of variations. ("We are living our lives / Abound with so much information...") The PS2 RPG _Persona 4_ had a minigame in which you could prepare omuraisu. There were four options and I think they went "Orthodox Style" with ketchup, "Seafood", "Asian-American" with a soy sauce base, and "Mediterranean" with lots of cheese and herbs.

Aye, I suspect that last dish is "Mediterranean" in the same sense that "American Pizza" (both in Japan and incidentally in the UK) is a kind of pizza with corn kernels as a major topping. (In case anyone's wondering in light of my smart-assery: risotto can be found in Japan, but as its own Italian thing.) Shiifuudo/Seafood uses a white sauce and is probably the second most popular kind of omuraise overall in Japan, though probably perceived as having more of "a grown-up taste". Since you are cooking for a six-year-old in the context of the game, I'm pretty sure the first two choices go over best.

As for poodles, well, I probably would settle for one with a voice like that!

Neo_weapon said...

Great post! I love these under the radar games. I played Game Dev Story and gotta say they did a really good job with this one.

Peter Tran said...

Here's a tip for making quick cash, just remove all your dishes for each store except for your most expensive dish. Try it out!

Brian M Yee said...

Fisher's House
Treasure 1 -- Dish: Grilled Fish
Treasure 2 -- Table: Arcade Game
Treasure 3 -- Recipe: Steak
Treasure 4 -- Table: White Sofa
Treasure 5 -- Table: Japanese Set

I can email a screenshot for proof if u want.

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