When I first ate at Japoix for my review, a server told me that the restaurant's name came from a desire to emphasize the marriage of Japanese and French cuisines, the focus of then-chef Jay Spickelmier, who'd done stints at Spago and Jing before moving to Japoix when it opened last August.
But now Spickelmier has been replaced by Japoix sous chef Matt Schaerer -- who also cooked at Spago -- and the restaurant is ditching the confusing fusion-related dichotomy, says owner Lawrence Yee, retooling as a New American spot with pan-Asian influences.
"Truly," explains Yee, "Japoix is inspired by my personal experiences and influences growing up Chinese-American in Denver, Colorado: Asian American friends, a love of Colorado Mexican cuisine like El Paraiso and steak houses like Del Frisco's. I came up with hot rock cooking because I love Korean BBQ, Japanese hibachi and Mexican parrilladas. I have always had a hard time defining myself based on my ethnicity because I've never neatly fit into stereotypes. Ironically, the same can be said of Japoix."
Hence New American.
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The new chef and new focus doesn't mean that everything is changing on Japoix's menu, though. "We have an experimental kitchen," says Yee. "We're going to continue what we were doing when we began, but we're listening to our guests, and we think our focus was confusing."
Though the hot rock, sandwiches, ramen and udon remain, the board has seen some tweaks, including a new item, a crispy basil chicken roulade.
"We'll continue to progress," says Yee. "And we'll make seasonal changes, too."