#6: Bo Bo Cafe

This was my first venture into Vietnamese food.  Once again my parents joined me to try something new.  Bo Bo Cafe is a located on Douglas in the shopping center where Mervyns use to be.  There were a few tables filled when we arrived and they were all finishing up their lunches.  The restaurant was nicely decorated and very comfortable.

We were sat right next to the occupied tables, which was a little awkward since the rest of the good sized dining room was empty, but they ended up leaving before we even ordered.  We got to perusing the menu.  Under our table’s glass top there was a couple articles from the Sacramento Bee featuring the cafe.  I had always thought that Vietnamese cuisine was mostly soup based, but soups made up just one page in the front.

We started with the pork rolls appetizer.  I couldn’t detect any pork flavor, but they were very light and tasty with the peanut sauce that they came with.  I would definitely order them again.

For our main dishes, I ordered “spicy curry chicken garnished w/ over roasted peanuts”, my mom ordered “charbroiled shrimp and lemon grass pork w/ spring rolls over rice noodles”, my dad ordered “sauteed pork with fresh lemon grass and hot chili spices” and we also added an order of vietnamese style fried rice to share.

The rice was the first to arrive and was excellent, probably some of the best fried rice I’ve had.  It had onions, chicken, something that resembled a dry sausage, egg and shrimp.  It was hot and very fresh.

After we had mostly devoured the rice the main dishes quickly started to arrive.  My spicy curry chicken wasn’t at all spicy, but the curry flavor was great and the chicken tender and juicy.  Steamed rice was served with it and the sauteed pork dish.  The pork was ok, but the chili sauce that covered the entire plate was pretty delicious.  A common theme between both of these dishes and the rice was lots of onions.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love onions, they just really stood out.

My mom’s bowl arrived last (but long after the others).  It did look nice, but was disappointing overall.  The pork was very dry, there were only two shrimp, and while the noodles had great texture (I tried them out after she finished), they were mostly flavorless and boring.  I put some of the remaining peanut sauce form the pork rolls on top and it was quite good.  She said the spring rolls were pretty good, but overall the bowl needed some kind of sauce.

One thing I should mention was the service.  Our server (he might have been the owner or manager, not really sure though) was not exactly polite, but I wouldn’t say he was rude either, he just wasn’t very personable.  Briefly a woman (the cook perhaps?  His wife?  No clue…) made an appearance from the back to bring out a dish.  She seemed nice, smiled and asked if I wanted a refill on my soda.  She came back later once more to refill it again.

So overall I’d say my first Vietnamese meal was pretty good.  I very much enjoyed both the pork rolls and curry chicken, and of course the rice was awesome.  I’m interested to come back and try one of the soups.  Actually there’s a new Vietnamese restaurant that just opened next to Beach Hut Deli out in Lincoln (a friend owns/operates the Beach Hut and I’m out there several times a month to eat and visit), so maybe I’ll check that out to try some soup.

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#5 Los Cabos Grill

This taqueria is located at the corner of Pleasant Grove and Foothills across from the AM/PM.  I discovered the Los Cabos Grill the first day I went scouting for restaurants to make The Map.  I’m still surprised at how many taquerias we have in town.

When I arrived here last night at about 7:45 I thought they were closed because their main sign was off even though it was already dark (came back today to get the picture of the front).  I guess they hadn’t adjusted the timer on it yet.  There was a single family just finishing their dinner and heading out when I came in, so I had the dining room to myself.  It’s a very clean and new dining room, brightly lit and well decorated, though the guitar seemed a little out of place…

I ordered the carnitas plate, which is something I order at every taqueria as a baseline comparison dish.  I was directed to the salsa bar and told that my food would be brought to me shortly.  After picking a table I filled my soda and got a basket of chips and some hot salsa.

My food was already on it’s way to the table when I headed back.  This carnitas plate was HUGE!  I made a mental note that I need a wider lens for these situations…

This chips were ok, crispy and warm from the heat lamp but nothing special.  The hot salsa had good flavor and heat, not too much though.  It was the kind of heat that builds over several chips without a drink.  The carnitas were excellent, almost melt in your mouth tender but with a bit of crisp at the edges, just the way I like them.  Rice and beans were good, but not particularly noteworthy.  The guacamole appeared a bit runny, and I was worried about that because the guacamole at a taqueria I’ve been to where it was similarly runny was terrible to the point that I don’t even go there anymore.  This was actually pretty decent, and it’s not something that would keep me from coming back.

The employee that took my order was very nice, and came over while I ate to see if I needed any more corn tortillas.  I was pretty happy with this visit.  I think I would rank it as my 2nd favorite taqueria behind El Sombrero Taqueria (just outside Roseville’s limits at Sierra College and Douglas next to Habit).  Admittedly I haven’t been to very many, so this might change significantly as I make my way through Roseville 😉

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#4: Great Wall Grill (CLOSED)

Great Wall Grill is a little Mongolian BBQ restaurant in the TJ Maxx shopping center on Douglas.  It’s my second favorite Mongolian BBQ after Sizzle in Rocklin.  This place seems to be very popular as I almost always end up having to wait a short time for a table, and the line to the grill is not the fastest.

This night my friend and I waited about 10-15 minutes outside (they only have a small bench inside that accommodates a small party).  Once called, you place your drink order, choose your rice (fried or steamed) and soup or salad, then head to make your bowl while your table is populated with those items and some appetizers.  For the uninitiated, at Mongolian BBQ you grab a bowl and fill it up with all the raw meat and fresh veggies you want, add in flavored sauces and then hand it over to be cooked on a circular grill.  Meat choices typically include pork, chicken, beef and lamb.  I used to do a pork and lamb mix but these days I do all pork and I can’t really say I taste a difference.  So I went with my typical pork, then added noodles, yellow onions, spinach, corn(not available at Sizzle, I quite enjoy it), green onions, mushrooms and zucchini.

Next come the sauces.  Most of the flavor is in the sauces (in my opinion), so my strategy is to add sauce until I can see it approaching the top of the bowl through the veggies.  If you don’t put enough sauce in the cook will add water during the cooking process to keep everything moist on the grill (not entirely sure if that’s the reason, but it makes sense to me), and I think that ends up washing a lot of flavor away.  If you’re new to this, all I can say is experiment, it will likely take you a few visits to figure out a mix of sauces that you like.  For me it’s something in the neighborhood of 40% house, 40% lobster (or seafood, however they name it) 15% kung pao and 5% sesame oil.

Last but not least I drop a large scoop of garlic on top.  I’m not really impressed with Great Wall’s garlic.  It’s blended to an apple sauce consistency and I can never seem to taste much of it.  Sizzle’s is much coarser and is quite potent.

At this point my bowl is complete and it’s off to be grilled up, which is always entertaining to watch, and the move to get it into the new bowl is always impressive.  I’m waiting for the day when they miss the bowl entirely and have to awkwardly ask me to make a new one.

Now cooked, a scoop some peanuts and crunchy fried chow mien noodles on top and head to the table.  Waiting for me is a piping hot bowl of egg drop soup, fried rice, fried wantons, crab/cream cheese wontons and my Dr. Pepper (actually Pibb I think in this case).

The fried wonton appetizers are always awesome here with the red sweet & sour sauce and are usually the first thing to disappear from the table.  The fried rice is exceedingly ‘meh’, though that’s true at most places in my experience, unless it’s cooked right then and there when you order it (in which case it’s AH-mazing!).  I always enjoy the egg drop soup and like to sip on it while my mongolian BBQ cools off a bit.  Like I mentioned earlier, this place tends to be busy at dinner.  It always seems to me that they are understaffed for the level of business they do.  As a result, unless you actively flag down a server for a refill, it will probably be a while.  Also, as visible in the photos of their ingredient counters, it can get messy fast.  They do try to keep that up as soon as they get a chance though, while I was taking my pictures they were already moving down the line wiping it down and refilling the trays behind me.

I very much recommend this Mongolian BBQ as it’s probably the best one in Roseville (I haven’t been to the one in the Galleria’s food court yet though).

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