Wasabi Tapas
Food & Drink

Q&A: Wasabi Tapas

Japanese and Thai cuisines come together in Capitola

Kae Bailes of Wasabi Tapas with their famous Ahi Tower. PHOTO: KEANA PARKER

For more than 10 years, Kae Bailes has wanted to open a Thai restaurant—ever since she moved from Thailand to the states in 2005. It was in March of this year that she was finally able to realize her dream. Well, except it’s a Thai and Japanese restaurant. That’s because she found an amazing chef in Texas with 40 years of experience preparing sushi, and the idea of letting those skills go to waste just didn’t seem right. Bailes talked to us about how it all came together.  

Why Thai and Japanese?

It seems different, right? But it’s good for a family if somebody doesn’t like sushi. They can also come to my restaurant and get Thai. We don’t make too much Thai food. Only curries. We cannot keep up with so many different things. It’s more Japanese. We combine them for our lunch bento box. They have a choice of curries and sushi. They can have some sashimi in the bento box, or curry. We have a really good chef. He’s been working as a sushi chef since he was 18. It’s not easy to own a sushi restaurant, and not be Japanese or Korean. I’m lucky my sushi chef does a really good job.

How’d you open the restaurant?

When I moved, my English wasn’t good. I went to Cabrillo and took an English as a second language class. And I came here with zero. I needed to work hard until the beginning of this year; I worked two to three jobs at a time. I found the restaurant at Brown Ranch Marketplace. I thought “I can buy that restaurant.” It’s a smaller spot.

Is the unusual approach getting a good response?

It’s good. But because of the location, we have more business for lunch. I want to bring customers for dinner. I have happy hour offered every night. On Monday and Tuesday, happy hour is from 5:30 p.m. until close. Wednesday through Saturdays, it’s 7 p.m. till close. It’s for appetizers, some rolls, some sashimi, sushi and drinks.

Tell me about your signature items, the Tower and the Dynamite.

The Tower is originally from Texas. My chef brought that recipe. It’s a combination of homemade sauce, spicy mayo, and wasabi sauce. The Tower has rice, avocado, imitation crab meat, and ahi, with salmon egg on top. Everybody loves it because it’s different. The Dynamite, we bake the crab meat or scallops with spicy mayo and wasabi sauce. We mix together and bake those. When it’s done, we put a California Roll on top.

3555 Clares St., Suite M, Capitola, 464-9898.

Contributor at Good Times |

Aaron is a hard-working freelance writer with a focus on music, art, food, culture and travel. In addition to Good Times, he's a regular contributor to Sacramento News & Review, VIA Magazine and Playboy. When he's not working, he's either backpacking, arguing about music or working on his book about ska. One thing's for sure—he knows more about ska than you.

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