Posted by: Sean Carter | May 31, 2014

Welcome to Eating Through Roseville!

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I began a mission in August of 2011 to eat everywhere* in Roseville. I completed this mission, in a way, in late April of 2014 when I visited the last open business on my list. I’ve now visited over 200 restaurants, cafes, diners, delis, bistros, etc.

I’m no food critic. My writing skills are mediocre at best and I really didn’t know that much about food when I began. I still don’t know very much but I’ve definitely learned a lot as I encountered dishes, ingredients and even entire cuisines that I previously never tried before.

Originally my intent was simply to snap some quick photos of the food and post them to my personal Facebook page. It got a little bigger than that. I now have over 200 pages of write-ups and nearly 2500 photos documenting them. The above mosaic is built from these (click it for a bigger version).

Am I done? Not really. New places are always on the horizon and I intend to visit those too. Below there is a list of upcoming businesses that I am waiting on. If you know of something that I’ve missed, new or otherwise, please leave me a comment on the Submit a New Restaurant page.

Looking for a specific restaurant? Try the Completed Restaurants pages.

I’d like to thank all the people that have read and followed this blog over the past few years. Your comments, suggestions and criticisms helped direct me and your encouragement helped me find the motivation to keep going (on more than a few occasions). I am glad that you’ve found this to be informative/useful/entertaining. :)


So what’s next?

  • Flame & Fire
    • Where: Pleasant Grove & Highland Pointe
    • What: Brazilian Steakhouse
    • When: NOW OPEN!
  • Cheese Louise
    • Where: Vernon & South Grant
    • What: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
    • When: Unknown. Original target was mid-April
  • Chando’s Tacos
    • Where: Pleasant Grove & Highland Pointe
    • What: Tacos / Mexican
    • When: July
  • ASR Restaurant & Lounge
    • Where: North Sunrise & Eureka
    • What: Unknown
    • When: August
  • Blast 825 Pizza
    • Where: Galleria & Roseville Parkway
    • What: Pizza
    • When: July
  • Krush Burger
    • Where: Galleria Mall
    • What: Burgers / American
    • When: July
  • Crawfish Factory Seafood Restaurant
    • Where: Baseline & Foothills
    • What: Seafood
    • When: Unknown
  • House of Oliver
    • Where: Sierra College & Douglas
    • What: Upscale Wine Lounge with Food Pairing
    • When: August
  • The Monk’s Cellar
    • Where: Vernon St near Washington overpass
    • What: Brewery & Public House
    • When: Summer 2014
Posted by: Sean Carter | July 17, 2014

#207: Matsuyama Japanese Fusion

Another post, another Japanese restaurant.  I had planned on breaking up the flow by going to Flame & Fire, the new Brazilian Steakhouse, but it hasn’t worked out quite yet.  I’m hoping for early next week!  Anyway, I don’t mean to take anything away from Matsuyama, so lets move forward.  I had a really big lunch today that I was worried might hinder my efforts tonight.  Indeed while I was walking into Matsuyama, over 6 hours later, I could still feel it.  Once I had my beer though it magically subsided enough to allow me to enjoy dinner.

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So what is Matsuyama?  It’s a Japanese Fusion restaurant at Foothills and Pleasant Grove which took the place of Pho Vietnam.  I headed in just before 6PM.  The place was very quiet, I believe there was just a single couple seated and eating at the time.  I was greeted by my soon to be server right at the door, then by one or two chefs behind the sushi bar.  I had my pick of seating and decided I wanted a table so I could spread out a bit and have room for my camera.  As I sat down near the front corner of the dining room, I made eye contact with one of the sushi chefs who smiled and waved.  It only occurred to me a couple minute later when I looked back over there who it was.  The jig was up.  This was Tang, my sushi chef from Sakura Japanese Bistro, and he remembered me.  I also recognized another chef, also from Sakura.  I want to take this moment to point out their website, which has a little opening couple of paragraphs explaining how Matsuyama was born from friends and co-chefs Song and Tang, with a nice big photo of the two.  I really like this sort of thing on sites, it really personifies the restaurant, and I always like getting a little insight into the creators intent.

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The dining room is similar to what Pho Vietnam had going on.  They appear to be using all the same tables and chairs, with the addition of black tablecloths.  The place got a bolder paint scheme with red walls.  The biggest change is the removal of the front kitchen wall and a new sushi bar in it’s place.  I didn’t notice it until a woman came in and sat there but it’s probably a good 5 inches taller than the regular tables, but with the same chairs.  It looked like it was right on the verge of being awkwardly tall.  Nevertheless, the bar was nearly packed by the time I left and everyone seemed to be doing just fine.

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I took a moment and flipped over the menu to pick out a beverage.  Although today was one of the coolest in a while, at just under 90º, I was feeling warm and in need of something refreshing.  Kirin was calling my name.  Unfortunately they were out but Sapporo swooped in to save the day.  I like them equally, so no biggie.  As I sipped it, unlocking my appetite, I studied the menu in more detail.  I had only skimmed over this briefly at home a while ago and picked out a single item based solely on the name.  The Jessica Alba-Core Crunch Onion.  Can you blame me?  Never mind.  Let’s plow ahead.

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My server was ready as soon as I was, coming over to take my order when I placed the menu down.  Aside from the Jessica Alba-Core Crunch Onion (no description, so I was going in blind on that one)[$11], I wanted to try something from the fusion section of the menu.  I selected the MILF (yeah, I know) (spy tuna, tamago, unagi and jalapeños with a miso french sauce and deep fried)[$7].  I wasn’t rely in the mood for something deep fried (shocker, coming from me) but nothing else was jumping out at me so I went for it.  I finished the order off with a 7pc Nigiri Combo (chef’s choice)[$12].  While I was ordering I had asked my server if the MILF was a roll, because it kind of sounded like it the way it was described but it wasn’t clear.  He was unsure and did a half turn towards the kitchen like he was considering asking someone.  I told him not to worry about it and went with it anyway.

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I waited about 10 minutes for my first items to arrive, listening to pop music and watching the A-Team on a TV across the room.  The repurposed vase – now chopstick holder – was kinda cool, as was the soy sauce container with it’s little cork.  I get a kick out of little stuff like that for some reason.  First to be delivered was my nigiri combo.  It looked great and had an excellent assortment of items, including one I’ve never tried before, masago roe.  Every one of these was fantastic, fresh and delicious.  The roe was pretty much what you expect from it’s appearance.  A mouth-full of tiny, crunchy eggs.  They had a very light flavor, most of it came from the yellow colored ones that must have been infused with lemon.  I wonder how many of these get stuck in your teeth.  I should have taken a big toothy-grin selfie after it to find out.

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Just a couple minutes after the nigiri came the MILF, which did turn out to be a roll, though one without rice.  This was cut into 4 giant pieces.  My only suggestion to the chefs would be to make this a 5-piece dish so that they are more bite-sized.  I went to town anyway.  This was considerably more spicy than I was expecting, despite knowing it had jalapeños in it, and maybe one of the spicier things I’ve ever ordered in a Japanese restaurant.  I had two pieces and then worked on the nigiri and my next dish before returning to it.  It was really good though, absolutely packed with egg, eel and spicy tuna and dipped in the thick and creamy French sauce.

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The Jessica Alba-Core Crunch Onion was last to arrive by another 7 minutes or so.  I had just finished the nigiri when it arrived.  Much like it’s name-sake, this was a sexy dish.  There were about 8 pieces of seared albacore tuna topped with crispy onions, slivers of jalapeño and more masago roe.  It all sat in a shallow pool of a very thin and somewhat oily sauce.  My table was slightly off balance, causing the sauce to gather at one end of the dish.  I really dug this.  Albacore is probably one of the few types of fish that I will tolerate being seared/cooked with my sushi, and it was done well here.  The onions were super crisp and not only added their excellent texture but also really wonderful flavor that made up about half of the experience.  The jalapeños only added a hint of zing to each bite.  I devoured this entire plate from one end to the other.

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Chef’s Song and Tang have got a very good thing going here.  I very much enjoyed Tang’s sushi at Sakura and this was no different (with 2-3 chefs at the time I’m not certain how much of my order he was directly involved in, but still).  I was glad to see a good crowd had developed by the time I left, and they had plenty of staff to handle it.  I think Matsuyama has a bright future here in Roseville, even with the abundance of excellent sushi we have.  Go check it out!

See this and more from me at Foodspotting.com:

Posted by: Sean Carter | July 8, 2014

#206: Da Jung

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Yesterday for an early dinner I headed out to Da Jung, a Sushi Bar & Korean Grill that has moved into the old Tomi space at E. Roseville Pkwy and N. Sunrise.  They opened just over a month ago.  I was fairly excited to try Roseville’s 2nd Korean restaurant.

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I arrived at about 4:50PM with a big appetite.  I had a feeling I would be ordering a lot of food.  As I mentioned in the Tomi write up (which you may want to check out for a few more angles of the interior), this is a very big space.  It has a large and open entryway with a tall ceiling and a massive chandelier which looks like it could crush an adult if it dropped.  Through a few large panes of stylized “shattered” glass you can see a part of the dining room.  As you turn left and enter the restaurant itself, you pretty much see everything as it opens up in front of you.

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A big portion of the old buffet has been remodeled and turned into a sushi bar.  The far end of the buffet seemed to be cleverly repurposed to hold all the traditional Korean side dishes (or banchan).  The restaurant was pretty quiet, I think there may have been 2-3 tables occupied at the time.  As I stepped out of the entry way I was greeted, first by the sushi chef, then by my waitress who turned around at his greeting and then led me to a table next to the shattered glass window.  I had stopped in briefly when they opened to grab a menu and see what the place looked like.  At the time I didn’t really notice any changes at all, and I especially noticed the lack of the tables with grills built-in, or so I thought.  I must have actually noticed the lack of exhaust hoods, because they certainly do have grill-tables.  I guess they must be electric and the building has adequate ventilation.

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I was seated at a normal table and I set about going over the menu.  I was determined to order a Korean BBQ dish and then a sushi roll or something on the side.  This is the one thing about Korean BBQ that keeps me from having it that often, it’s a bit pricey.  If you want to go full blown BBQ, as in at your table, it’s going to be $17-25 for one type of meat here.  They do have some combos, and the combos come in lunch or dinner sizes/prices, but even lunch is going to run you at least $14.  I figured that the combo would be the most affordable way for me to get some BBQ while leaving room to try some sushi as well, even though it would be a lot of food.  The combos come with Assorted Soon Tofu.  I had absolutely no idea what that was.

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When my server came by to see if I was ready to order, I explained that I was interested in doing a combo, but that I wasn’t sure what the Soon Tofu was.  At first she sort of just started to point out the individual items on the menu that made up the combo I had pointed to, but then realized what I was actually asking and kind of summed it up as a tofu stew.  Sounded good enough to me so I went ahead and ordered the Spicy Pork Bulgogi Combo [$16.95].  Along with that I had picked out the Da Jung Special Roll (In: asparagus, tuna, jalapeño, salmon, with fish avocado. Out: crunch, yum yum sauce, eel sauce)[$12.95].  She informed me that all rolls were buy one get one free right now, and I’m not one to turn down a bonus roll.  I quickly skimmed down the rolls list once more and chose the What the Hell (Deep Fried – In: jalapeño, spicy tuna, cream cheese. Out: spicy eel sauce)[normally $11.95].  A fitting name for the roll based on how I decided on it.  This was turning out to be a ridiculously sized dinner.  To drink I had a Mr. Pibb [$1.75]

With my order out of the way I had a moment to look around and see what had changed.  Aside from the buffet’s new dual use setup and some grill-tables here and there, they had added some TVs, and that’s about it.  The place was pretty nice before so I don’t blame them at all for keeping it mostly the same.  I didn’t wait around looking a at the scenery for too long because my food came out in a very speedy 12 minutes.  It took her a few trips to deliver the soon tofu bowl, the spicy pork bulgogi, the large platter with both my rolls on it, and then 7 side dishes as well as a small bowl of rice.  The pork and tofu were both extremely hot with the tofu steaming like crazy.  I took a couple minutes to photograph everything while those cooled off a bit.

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A wooden box of silverware was brought to my table and had everything I could need in it.  I grabbed a fork, spoon and chopsticks.  Similarly to UMI Sushi, these chopsticks were not disposable, but while UMI’s were wooden, these were metal.  I ended up not using them that much though because with so much in front of me, it was a little annoying to be switching utensils every other bite.  This was, I think, the very first time I’ve eaten sushi with a fork.  It was weird and strangely more difficult than I expected.  The Da Jung roll was enjoyable throughout.  Inside was a fairly good sized chunk of tuna and a slightly smaller piece of salmon.  In-between those was the asparagus, which was actually deep fried in tempura batter.  The asparagus, aside from the tempura, still had some snap to it and a crunch of it’s own.  I didn’t taste the spice of the jalapeño and I have no idea what “fish avocado” is, but it seemed like normal avocado to me.  The sauces were tasty and, other than the side dishes, this being the coldest thing on the table made it a go to to mix things up.

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The What the Hell roll, being deep fried, had a nice crispy outside to it, though it seemed to be something other than the usual tempura batter.  It was a thinner, denser type of coating.  This was warm as well as being on the creamy side with the cream cheese.  There was a bit of spice from the spicy tuna, but once again I didn’t really taste the jalapeño.  Overall I thought it was good as well.

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I picked at the sides a bit here and there, some more than others.  I made a point to try each one at least once.  Most of these looked like they could be described as pickled.  The zucchini was definitely so.  Even though I’m not a huge fan of pickled things, I was surprised by how much I didn’t hate many of the sides.  In fact, I actually kind of liked most of them.  Big exception to the kimchi though.  As much as I try to enjoy kimchi it never happens.  I’ve told myself over and over that if tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people in the world can love it then I should be able to at least like it a little bit.  Nope.  Can’t stand the stuff.  I try it every time and every time one bite is enough.  Anyway, most of these were pretty decent.  There was the zucchini, some sort of noodles, I think shredded radish, something that reminded me of quiche, and the last two I have no idea.

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On to the soon tofu.  Now that it had cooled down (though it was still extremely hot), I scooped up a spoon full from beneath the nearly opaque reddish-orange surface.  The spoon came up with almost entirely tofu.  There were some bits of greens, onions and a couple other veggies in there but for the most part it was entirely tofu.  Looking back at the menu, it seems like it should have had more to it as Assorted Soon Tofu is described as having beef, shrimp and clams.  Oh well, I had no idea at the time so I ate away.  Apparently the rice goes with the soon tofu, which I also didn’t realize.  I mostly ate it with bites of the bulgogi.  The tofu was, well, tofu.  Bland, almost jello-like white cubes.  The broth was intensely flavorful though.  At first I did not like it at all.  It had a distinctly seaweed kind of flavor going on.  A few spoonfuls later I decided it was maybe more like green tea, then I got used to it.  It was quite savory and I could see this being a pretty nice warm thing to have in the winter.  I enjoyed it a little bit more with every bite.

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Finally, my most anticipated item, the spicy pork bulgogi.  Easily enough for two people, this was piled up on a hot oval dish sitting on a wooden block.  It was everything I wanted it to be.  Although it wasn’t really that spicy, it was intensely flavorful with the rich, savory marinade that had just a hint of sweetness.  The pork was all perfectly cooked, from the majority of lean bites to a scattered few fatty bits here and there.  Every piece was tender and insanely delicious.  I had the remaining half of this for lunch today and it was still amazing even heated up in the microwave.

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I have to say I am extremely pleased that Tomi was replaced with this.  That was one of a very select few restaurants in Roseville that I actively hoped would close, and now we get another Korean place in return, which is something the whole Sacramento area needs more of, in my opinion.  The prices seem to be right in line with Iron Grill, the service was good, helpful and patient.  The place remains looking new and clean.  The only downside is the awful parking lot.  I think they built it with Mini Coopers and Smart Cars in mind.  I nearly got my front bumper taken off by someone when I attempted to leave.  Anyway, very happy with Da Jung.  Oh, one thing I’ve been meaning to mention.  Ever since I saw the name I can’t say it in my head without the intonation of saying da Bears.  I’ll leave you with that.  Da Jung.

No Website, no Facebook page….

Menu (scanned): https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/12286/EatingThroughRoseville/Da.Jung.Menu.pdf

Da Jung on Urbanspoon

See this and more from me at Foodspotting.com:

Posted by: Sean Carter | June 30, 2014

#205: UMI Sushi

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Tonight I got to work on the first of several new sushi restaurants that have opened recently.  Of the last four restaurants that have opened lately, three of them are Japanese/Sushi joints.  UMI is the latest of the bunch and opened about a week ago, perhaps slightly earlier.  I’ve been on a small sushi kick lately, so this is working out great for me.  I met up with my mom and grandma for dinner tonight just after 5.

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UMI is located in the old Roseville Gourmet location.  It’s an odd place for a restaurant.  Other than Burger King, it doesn’t seem like food really belongs back on this little S-curve of a road known as South Harding Blvd.  Roseville Gourmet somehow managed to survive for a very long time.  I was surprised to see, not more than a month ago, their sign abruptly replaced by the new one for UMI Sushi.  Walking inside I was a little taken aback by the change in decor.  With Roseville Gourmet, the interior was a bit drab.  UMI Sushi really stripped everything out and started over.  It has a clean, modern feel to it and manages to set itself apart from many of the dark, nightclub-inspired sushi joints with colorful LED mood lighting.  Instead, they opt for a fairly spartan approach.  The ceiling and tables are the only really dark parts.  The seating is light wood chairs with white seats and a soft-looking white bench along one wall.  As you enter, you walk between some interestingly repurposed blinds hung from the ceiling.  It serves well to somewhat isolate the centrally located entrance from the diners all around it.

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Straight back is a small sushi bar that seats maybe six.  They were slow, with just 2 or 3 tables occupied at the time we arrived.  They’re brand new, and it’s a Monday night, so that didn’t surprise me at all.  I was actually behind the others by a few minutes so I joined them at their table.  Two narrow menus awaited me.  I quickly got started with an Asahi Black as soon as the server came by.  The menu is small to medium sized, compared to the average for the area.  It is broken up into cold and hot appetizers, nigiri, entrees, drinks and rolls.  Before long we had picked out two appetizers and three rolls.  We were planning on doing the Sashimi appetizer (7 pieces of assorted salmon and blue fin tuna)[$12.95] and the Mixed Tempura (deep fried and battered prawns & daily fresh veggies)[$7.50].  When the server came by, actually a different person this time, he recommended the Umi Tacos (assorted fish in taco shell, fresh veggies and Umi special sauce)[$11].  We thought that sounded interesting and ordered that instead of the sashimi.  This server turned out to be the real server, and I believe the other one was more of a hostess, though she seemed to be doing slightly more than just that.  Both were very friendly and seemed eager to please.  Since we already had the rolls picked out we went ahead and ordered those at the same time.

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I sipped on my Asahi Black which was very smooth and light tasting despite it’s color.  We soon received a small bowl of sauce for the tempura.  This arrived a few minutes later on a neat little folding wooden stand.  We demolished this quickly.  I usually say that tempura appetizers seem to be hard to screw up, and I still mean it.  I’ve never had bad tempura.  It’s always straight out of the fryer and often dangerously hot.  This was crisp and exactly as expected.  It had several shrimp along with asparagus, carrot, broccoli, potato and zucchini.  It felt like we were off to a good start, however this was about in the meal where the pacing pretty much fell apart.

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It was another 25 minutes before our other appetizer, the Umi Tacos were brought out.  With them was the Umi special sauce which our server stated either was, or was like, ponzu sauce, which apparently is a citrus/soy sauce kind of blend.  I felt like it was more in the soy sauce category, much thinner though.  The tacos were really, really good.  Inside the shell, which was made from fried soy beans,  I found some fresh greens (more of a garnish than anything) salmon and a white fish that I am unsure of.  It was a very interesting delivery method for what was essentially chopped sashimi.  The crunchy texture of the shell is not something I’ve ever experienced along with soft, delicate pieces of raw fish.

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Once we were done with the tacos, which didn’t take more than a couple minutes, we waited again.  This time it was about 20 minutes before our rolls were delivered.  About halfway through this wait our server came by to apologize for the wait and explained that it was his fault for apparently not putting the order in.

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Our rolls came on a single large platter.  From left to right we had the Bulldog, the Great White and the Paris.  The Bulldog is deep fried soft-shell crab, snow crab, avocado, salmon, yellowtail, fish-roe, wasabi sauce and unagi sauce [$10.95].  It was definitely the wildest-looking on the plate and had the largest pieces.  On top were bonito flakes for a little crunch.  This was a very flavorful roll with lots going on.  The yellowtail perched up top, drizzled with unagi and wasabi sauces seemed to dominate the flavors slightly, but I was still able to enjoy everything else it had to offer.  This did not have as much of a kick to it from the wasabi sauce as I was expecting and instead was fairly mellow.

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The Paris was tempura-asparagus, scallops, snow crab, unagi sauce and black tobiko [$10.95].  This was one of my mom’s picks and I didn’t even realize, until now, that this had scallops.  They must have been very small or chopped, because usually that’s a texture that really stands out to me.  The asparagus still had a bit of a snap to it which was nice.  I got the couple pieces that were loaded with tobiko and they had a nice crunch to them and their apparently smokey flavor came through strong.  My mom commented on the smokey flavor of this one and wasn’t sure where it would be coming from.  I did not realized that tobiko had this quality.

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Our last roll, the Great White, was seared butterfish, hamachi, avocado, garlic ponzu and green onion [$10.95].  I have the say that I have disliked nearly every piece of seared sushi I’ve had so far.  My first bite of this one was no exception.  Something changed with the next bite though.  I know butane is basically flavorless, yet my brain wants to associate a gas-like taste to seared fish.  This is the first time I’ve ever heard of or tried butterfish.  I think it’s deliciousness allowed me to overcome my dislike of seared fish.  Just past that thin, crisp layer was an amazingly soft and smooth piece of buttery fish that just melted in your mouth.  It’s name actually does it justice.  This turned out to be my favorite of the three, and the Bulldog was damn good.

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Throughout the meal my stomach was craving still more, I was exceedingly hungry, and at the end I decided I wasted to get an order of unagi nigiri (BBQ fresh water eel)[$5] to finish the dinner off.  I should had realized that it was going to take a while and just picked a little something else up on the way home, but it was too late.  It took about 16 minutes for this to come out.  These gaps were annoying, there’s no denying that.  This was perhaps one of the best orders of unagi I’ve ever had though.  They were really big pieces which were wonderfully tender and almost like the butterfish in how they practically melted in your mouth.  A fine way to end a long dinner.

ETR 205 UMI Sushi 020 2014-06-30 18-27-55

ETR 205 UMI Sushi 021 2014-06-30 18-28-28

Overall I was very surprised by UMI sushi, probably mostly due to the drastic change in decor from Roseville Gourmet, but the food was rock solid too, not to take anything away from that.  Splitting the service and pacing out I would be able to call the service excellent and the pacing awful, together making it OK service.  If they can improve that then this could end up another one of Roseville’s plentiful selection of excellent sushi spots, and in an area of Roseville that was lacking one too!  Price-wise it was perhaps a touch above the norm.  Overall I’d give this visit a 3.5 (-1 for pacing and -0.5 for price).  It has great potential as the pacing should be fairly easy for them to correct.

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