#61: Yoko Sushi

Yoko Sushi is a tiny little sushi joint hidden in the back of a shopping center at Douglas and Sunrise.  It’s directly across the street from Mandangos and the Squeeze Inn.  I arrived here at about 6:30 to meet some family for dinner.  When I walked in to the completely empty dining room, I was greeted by the sushi chef and waitress and I informed them I was waiting on others and sat down in the single chair by the door.  After a few minutes of skimming through one of the take-out menus that were on the table next to me I got up and took a photo of the dining room with the chef’s permission.  Right about then the first person showed up.

The dining room is quite small, you can see pretty much all of it in the photo.  The only thing that is not shown is the ~10 person sushi bar and 1 more table.  It’s a quiet and cozy little place, and I loved the little movable privacy dividers, pretty cool idea.  We were seated at a center table and the waitress placed all the menus, napkins and chopsticks out.  I had taken a photo or two of the menu when she came by and told me not to continue.  In some instances I can understand that policy, however the take-out menu (link) has almost identical information including prices, so here I thought it was a bit strange.  The menu is pretty standard for a sushi restaurant, a decent selection of rolls, the typical sushi & sashimi choices, appetizers and dinner combos.  We were still waiting on two more and told her that we would wait when she asked if we wanted to order.

The two of us sat at our table idly flipping through the menu, the waitress stood at the front desk and the chef behind the bar was watching TV, all for a good 15-20 minutes after that.  At first I was fine with it, but after a while I had kind of wished she would have came back and seen if we at least wanted drinks.  Finally the rest of our party arrived.  They had a few minutes to go through the menu as well before the waitress returned and took our entire order at once.  She was direct, efficient and was off to get our drinks and appetizers quickly.

Shortly after ordering a woman and her daughter arrived and sat at the bar.  They seemed to be regulars and had considerably more interaction with the staff than we did.  They were the only other customers the entire time.  Not too long after that, a house salad, mixed tempura appetizer and my miso soup all arrived at once.  The soup was excellent, not too salty and the temperature wasn’t so hot that I had to let it cool off.  The tempura was about the same as anywhere else.

The main orders arrived mostly all at once, with mine lagging about 5 minutes behind them.  With a single sushi chef I suppose that’s understandable.  There was a dinner combo box with tofu tempura and a vegetable roll.  I hat a bite of the tofu and it was pretty good.  The two rolls that were ordered were the Mt Fuji (shrimp tempura, avocado, crab with scallop) and Honey (shrirnp tempura, avocado, crab) rolls.  I did not get a picture of the Honey roll.

I ordered the sushi combination #2, which is 10 pieces of nigiri sushi.  As usual with an order like this the sushi chef chooses the fish.  I received maguro (tuna), sake (salmon), ebi (shrimp), unagi (eel) and I’m not positive about the three on the outside of the middle row but I’m guessing Tai (red snapper) and/or hamachi (yellow tail).

The unagi was probably the best thing.  The others didn’t seem super fresh and were all about room temperature.  Flavor-wise they seemed ok, but they had just a touch of extra toughness to them, particularly the maguro and sake.

Overall, not one of my favorite sushi places.  The service was minimal and the sushi was OK at best.  I had attempted to come here some months ago and was seated for a solid 10-15 minutes before the waitress came to take my order and then informed me that they couldn’t make about half of the menu because the chef had hurt his hand and was out for the day.  That was pretty frustrating (although it led to arguably one of my best sushi meals ever at Blue Nami, so perhaps it was a good thing).  It’s possible tonight was just an off-night for them, but we have so many other sushi restaurants that are consistently great that I can’t say I expect to return here.

Scanned Menu: Click Here

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#60: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

OK, I know Five Guys Burgers and Fries is a chain, and a pretty big one at that, but they’re relatively new to the area and the west coast in general so I thought I’d show what they’re all about to those that have not been to one yet.

Lots of people like to compare them to In’N’Out Burger.  This is a valid comparison in that they are burger chains, use fresher and higher quality ingredients than your average fast food joints, cook food to order and have generally very good customer service.  Beyond that however, I find them to be quite different.  In’N’Out clearly strives for consistency and simplicity even down to their buildings.  There is little variation in design from one to the next.  I haven’t been to nearly as many Five Guys, but they seem to work around whatever locations they find.  For instance, here in Roseville, they have a very simple rectangular space in the old Applebees building.  The Natomas location is much larger and L-shaped with the ordering line flowing in the opposite direction.

Though their menu isn’t quite as basic as In’N’Out it’s still a lot more basic than your typical fast food chain.  In addition to burgers, they also offer hot dogs, veggie sandwiches and grilled cheeses.  They offer more topping options than In’N’Out, including grilled mushrooms, relish, jalapenos, green peppers, A.1. steak sauce, BBQ sauce and hot sauce.

When you walk in, you will be guided towards the counter down a path bordered by sacks of potatoes and boxes of peanut oil.  Once at the register they ask if you’ve been to Five Guys before and given a little crash course on the menu if not.  I’ve been eating here on the weekends more than usual so the cashier seemed to recognize me this time.  I ordered my usual bacon cheeseburger with mayo, lettuce, grilled onions and grilled mushrooms.  I ordered fries as well, though I only did so for the completeness of this post.  I’ll tell you why in a moment.  Once my order was complete and paid I headed out to the front of the mostly empty dining room to claim a table.

This is where my biggest complaint about this particular location comes in.  The dining room is very cramped.  They have so many tables here that it’s difficult to move from one end of the dining room to the other.  It’s not so bad when it’s this empty, but I was still moving chairs and bumping into tables on my way to the soda machines.  When it’s busy, it gets awkward and annoying to get to a table in the middle.  Looking at the layout, I’m not even sure a wheelchair would be able to navigate the outside very smoothly without someone having to take point and help by moving some tables and chairs to widen the path.  There is so little space left over that the children’s highchairs are stored right in front of one of the two soda fountains (and of course the Mr Pibb is in that far corner).  On top of all this, there is no obvious place to wait for your order if you are taking it to go.  If you want to stand and wait you’ll almost certainly be in the way, so you’re left with taking up a table and chair.

Update: It’s been about 3 months since this visit and I just had lunch here again.  They have dramatically improved in this area.  Tables have been reoriented and they may have even removed some.  It felt a lot better.

Five Guys is about as fast as In’N’Out, which means not all that fast.  Take that time to grab your soda, napkins, ketchup and a scoop of complimentary peanuts to snack on.  When your order is ready, it comes out in a bag.  There is no “for here” or “to go” here, it’s served the same way no matter what.  If you’ve ordered fries, a good amount of the bags weight will be coming from those.  They give you a ton.  This is what you’ll see when you peer inside the bag:

The last few times I’ve ordered fries they were not cooked particularly well and were basically greasy, soggy potatoes.  Last week was the final straw and I decided I wasn’t going to order them anymore.  Even when cooked properly I’m not a very big fan of them and end up using an awful lot of ketchup with them.  I ordered them this one last time as I said above, for completeness of this post.  The crew must have been reading my mind because they nailed it.  They were actually cooked well, had a slight crunch to them and were overall pretty good.  I may be tempted to try them again next time, but they’re still on notice in my book.  I much prefer In’N’Out’s fries to these, even on Five Guys best day.

I respectfully disagree, Colorado Springs Gazette

The burger itself is great.  I’ve had very consistent experiences with my burgers at Five Guys.  Today there was so little time between when it was wrapped and unwrapped that the cheese hadn’t had a chance to melt and stick to the foil like it normally does.  The bacon is flavorful and crispy, the onions are tasty and the lettuce fresh and crisp.  The mushrooms don’t offer a lot of flavor but I enjoy the texture.  The beef is very similar to In’N’Out, thin patties of fresh beef that are never frozen.  The cheese is one of the highlights here in my opinion. It isn’t particularly strong or unique but they seem to put just enough on the burger so you can taste it in each bite and it adds a creamy texture.  My cheese loving friend (the one that ordered all the extra gruyere when we went to The Counter) even commented that he likes the cheese at Five Guys because he can actualy taste it, opposed to most other fast food cheeseburgers.

I’d give this location 3 of 5.  Minus 1 for the cramped dining room and 1 for the inconsistent fries.  The burger is the star here, though I’m kind of curious about their hot dogs.

Website: http://fiveguys.com

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#59: Extreme Java Jungle Cafe (CLOSED)

Extreme Java Jungle Cafe is a newish cafe/coffee shop on Vernon.  Just the other day there was an AmazonLocal deal for this shop which I posted to the Eating Through Roseville facebook page and also bought myself.  Normally I’m not doing coffee shops but this one seemed to have a full cafe type service.  I stopped by for an early dinner yesterday after checking the hours (I was kind of shocked to see that they are open til midnight every day).

I arrived at about 4pm and they were pretty empty, just a few people were in the dining room.  A couple were taking advantage of the WiFi with their laptops in a far corner.  The first thing that I noticed was how big the place was.  it was easily 2-3 times bigger than I would have expected for a coffee shop/cafe.  They filled it in well, not with tons of tables to pack in the customers, but with lots of big comfy chairs at most tables.  There’s a fireplace surrounded by chairs, which I assume they actually use in the winter because of the “HOT DO NOT TOUCH” sign.  The tables are all painted with various animal patterns.  An orangutan hangs from the ceiling holding an Extreme Java Jungle Cafe cup.  As big as the place is, it still has the cramped/cozy feel of a much smaller coffee shop.  Lots of novelty mugs and gift-type items are on display for purchase around the counter area.  They host lots of events which you can see on their website, like open mics, karaoke and live bands.  I spoke to a musician that said he would be playing this weekend and he told me it was really nice that the place is so large because they can accommodate 2 separate bands which may alternate and not have to break down and set up equipment in between.

I’m not much of a coffee drinker.  I probably wouldn’t know a good cup of coffee if I was drinking it.  I think the drip coffee that gets brewed in the cubical next to me at work is just fine, so I’m not going to be a great judge of how their coffee is.  That said, they seem to at least look like they know what they’re doing.  2/3 of the menu is nothing but drinks and they have a wall of coffee dispensers at one end of the counter.  Lots of syrups line the back wall and plenty of space is used for making drinks.

I took a seat near the front and logged into the WiFi for a little surfing before my food showed up, which didn’t take very long.  The potato and macaroni salad showed up first.  Turns out I got a full macaroni salad instead of the half.  Both were quite cold.  They were pretty average overall, about what you might buy at the grocery store.  It sounds like normally there is a small selection of chips but all they had this time were original Lays.

Not long after that my sandwich arrived, and looked pretty good.  All the ingredients were visible from the side and a piece of bacon was trying to make a getaway.  When I first picked it up I lost about half of the egg out the back, my fault for not getting a better grip on it.  After putting it back together I got to work eating it.  The French roll was soft and fresh, the bacon crispy and all together pretty fresh and very good.  Hard boiled eggs on a sandwich is something I don’t think I’ve had before.  They were great and there was plenty of them.  I might opt for some additional meat next time (an additional $1) because the pastrami was very light, just a thin slice or two on the top and bottom.  It’s definitely a light sandwich overall and I can easily put away a pretty heavy Beach Hut monster so if it wasn’t for the potato/macaroni salad I might have been left wanting more.

My drink selection was a Coke but I was also given the choice of iced tea.  I’m not sure how flexible they are on this since they have a ton of beverage options to choose from.  I know I will probably come back and check out the caramel apple cider at some point, hopefully we get another nice cold day before summer officially takes hold.  I completely forgot to use my AmazonLocal deal so I’ll be back for sure either way.

Website: http://www.extremejavajunglecafe.com/

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