#129: Teriyaki To Go

I had an early lunch today so right after work I grabbed my camera and headed off to Teriyaki To Go.  This business is located in the SaveMart/CVS shopping center at the corner of Foothills and Junction.  I went in with no knowledge of this place and no expectations.

As I approached the storefront I could see a man sitting by the window reading a newspaper.  Once I rounded the corner and found the front door (which faces Foothills) I stepped in and saw that I was the only customer.  The man reading the newspaper promptly got up and greeted me.  I am going to guess that this guy is the owner/manager.  He was very friendly and asked me what I wanted.  I only briefly scanned the menu as I walked up to the counter when I decided to go with the “what do you recommend?” angle.  “Chicken noodle” he said, without hesitation.  I looked up at the menu to see what this was and confirmed that he meant the teriyaki noodle bowl.  I added a fountain drink and $8.58 later I headed down the counter to grab a tumbler and fill it with soda.  Only Pepsi products here it seems, no Dr Pepper.  There were some bottled drinks in coolers on the other side of the room, so it’s possible he had some in there.

The dining room is small-medium sized, although one wall has a big mirror from about table-height up to the ceiling, so it really makes it feel a lot bigger.  In addition to that, most of the front is all windows which makes it’s a pretty nice and bright space.  Outside there are a few permanent tables with umbrellas that are shared with ToGos.  I don’t want to say it looks or feels dirty, that doesn’t quite describe it, more like well-used.  Nothing seemed to be broken or in poor shape.  At the same time nothing looked new either.  It seemed like the type of family owned joint where they were very cost-conscious and thus took good care of everything to make it last as long as possible, rather than replacing something when it got scuffed up to keep up a specific shiny image.  That said I’m not entirely certain this is not a chain since there seems to be several others in the Sacramento area under the same name.  There are J street and E. Bidwell locations mentioned right on the menu, but no others.  I’m not really sure what the deal is.

Anyway, immediately after I had paid he called back my order and a cook popped out from the back and got to work immediately.  The man went back to his newspaper and I took a seat opposite the room of him.  My bowl was ready in just under 5 minutes and I went up to the counter to pick it up along with a fork and some napkins.  It was a good sized bowl with some heft to it.  Piled up inside and still steaming from the wok were thick, heavy noodles mixed in with lots of good sized chunks of chicken and various veggies and all coated with sauce.  The chicken was fantastic, and there was no shortage of it.  All the way to the bottom of the bowl I found plenty of chicken and didn’t have to do any rationing to make sure I had some for the last couple bites.  The teriyaki sauce was wonderful and savory.  Not as sweet as others I can think of.  The vegetables consisted of lettuce, carrots, bean sprouts and a little bit of broccoli, which did an excellent job of soaking up sauce like a sponge and hitting you with a full-flavored bite.

I was really impressed with this bowl.  I enjoyed every single bite from start to finish and as I’m typing this I kind of wish I was still eating it.  The owner was super nice and asked me how I liked the noodle bowl from across the dining room once I was a few bites in.  He seemed to be very happy that I was enjoying it.  This is one of those places that I never even looked at in all the years I’ve been driving/walking by it and now I can’t wait to return.  It’s exactly the reason I set out on this mission.  I’m really glad I tried it out.

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here

#128: La Familia Taqueria

I’m back from the land of Thai!  Lots of food photos coming soon, if you’re interested.  It was a much needed break from everything, but it’s time to get this thing rolling again.  Today I was really craving some tasty Mexican food, which led me out to El Azteca on Foothills.  I had remembered hearing good things about them.  Unfortunately, I learned that they are closed on Mondays.  Instead I headed up Foothills and down Cirby to Sunrise where I stopped at the next taqueria that popped into my head, La Familia Taqueria.  A reader told me about this one some time ago.  Somehow I had missed it in my first and later passes through Roseville to create and maintain my list.  It’s a little family owned/operated place located in the Rite Aid shopping center, almost hidden behind the Circle K (strange things are not afoot at this one).

I arrived at about 5PM and headed in.  There was a group of four finishing up, otherwise I had the place to myself.  It’s a medium sized square dining room with about 10 or so tables and a big screen TV (which was showing the local news).  Back in the right corner is the register and menu.  I headed over to it and a man came out to greet me just before I got there.  I skimmed the menu which looked fairly typical, although they have a few things that I’ve only seen here and there such as lengua and tripa.  I ordered my usual carnitas plate with corn tortillas and asked for some sour cream & guacamole, since the menu didn’t mention them.  He told me that it comes with both, so that’s a plus.  For a drink I glanced around and saw a small soda fountain to my right, horchata was on the counter (along with two other drinks that cycle in the same kind of unit side by side which I’ve never tried before), and some beer / Jarritos bottles were on display near that.  After a quick battle in my mind, I went with a horchata over the Jarritos.  The total for the carnitas plate and horchata was about $13, which is about right compared to others in the area.

Click for larger version

I sat down near the front, for some extra light, and less than a minute later a basket of chips and a bowl of salsa were brought out.  The chips were OK, but nothing too memorable.  At first I liked the salsa, it seemed to have good flavor, but as I ate more I started to change my mind and decided it tasted a little too much like hot sauce than a well balanced salsa.  It was very thin and runny.  My horchata was pretty good.  It was light on cinnamon, which I think helped keep it refreshing for longer.  Normally I’d be sick of one by the end, but I got a refill of this for the road and am still happily sipping it as I type this out.

My food took less than 5 minutes to prepare and be delivered to me.  It was a good sized plate almost perfectly divided into quadrants: carnitas, rice, beans and the rest (lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo).  The beans and carnitas were steaming a bit when it arrived.  Indeed, the beans were probably the hottest thing on the plate, and they were very good.  Add La Familia to the very small list of places that have notable beans.  The rice was a bit warm but not hot, and also not that special.  I mixed the rice and the crisp lettuce up with the beans for some extra texture.  It was a good mix and I ate every last bite.  The sour cream was nice and cool.  The guacamole was disappointing, a bit runny and somewhat bland.  At first glance I was a little concerned that the carnitas looked a bit on the dry side.  This was because all the crispy parts were facing up.  Just below the surface were some fantastically tender and juicy pieces of the slow cooked pork packed with wonderful flavor.  There was just the right amount of fat scattered about the serving, often crispy on one side.

I was generally happy overall with the refreshing horchata, fantastic carnitas and tasty beans.  The shortcomings of the chips, rice and guac were overshadowed by these things.  I was happy with the service as well.  The guy came out to see if I wanted and more chips or salsa at one point.  We didn’t have a ton of interaction though from the little we did he seemed nice enough.  I think it’s a good taqueria that deserves consideration when deciding on Mexican food, for sure.

Menu: Click on photo of menu above for larger version