#152: Asian Bliss

Some time ago I noticed that Mongolian Bliss had been replaced by a new restaurant called Asian Bliss.  I thought it might be the same restaurant with a branding change, but it looks to be something entirely different.  They conveniently kept the “Bliss” portion of the sign and added “Asian” with a little sun to make up the extra space since Mongolian was much longer, and the color changed to green.

I met up with my parents for dinner at 6PM tonight.  We headed inside and it was clear that they had very minimal work to do in changing over the dining room, as in almost none.  It’s basically identical.  The kitchen is a different story.  I imagine removing the circular grill and changing out the buffet counter for a regular one took a little effort.  We were the only customers when we entered, and just one other person came in briefly to pick up a to go order while we were there.  Very, very quiet for a Friday night.  We were greeted immediately by pretty much the only employee I saw.  I caught a quick glimpse of someone back in the kitchen once, but other than that it was just the four of us up front.  He had us sit anywhere we liked and we took a booth near the front.  He brought us waters in neon-blue plastic cups and my dad asked about the beer selection, which he listed off quickly.  They had about 4 or 5 to choose from, half domestic and half Japanese, all bottled I believe.  Back past the counter you can see a series of shelves with one of each on display.  He went with a Kirin, which was brought out quickly in a cold glass.

The menu is quite small, evenly divided between appetizers, small plates, full entrees and rolls.  A lot of it is on the Japanese side of the Asian spectrum, with Udon noodles, Teriyaki, Bento boxes and rolls.  They have a few other items like Korean BBQ, Thai chicken and a Mongolian dish.  We pretty quickly decided on our entrees.  We ordered an appetizer of mixed tempura[$8.95] which he got started immediately, then returned for our main food order.  The tempura arrived within 5 minutes and was very hot, as it usually is everywhere.  A massive onion ring topped a selection of veggies and shrimp.  Potato, carrot, squash and broccoli were found., maybe one or two others.  We thought initially that they didn’t serve it with dipping sauce, but he returned immediately with the little dish.  As with most places that serve this, it was pretty solid.  It’s hard to mess up tempura (I’m guessing).

Ten minutes later he brought out salads.  My parents each ordered a roll and a side salad[$2].  I had ordered the Korean BBQ[$12.95] which included the same side salad.  Like Blue Nami or other sushi places, the dressing was creamy, yet light and sweet.  This consisted of crisp lettuce, cucumbers, carrots and broccoli.  It was great.  The rolls came out at about the same time and were relegated to the center of the table while the salads were worked on.  My Korean BBQ came about a minute later and I ate them side by side.  My parents both said they really liked the rolls.  They were the RedRose Roll (Crab meat, avocado, cucumber, carrot, spicy tuna with sauce and green onion)[$11.45] and the Dragon Roll (Crab meat, cucumber, avocado, smoked shrimp with sauce and tobiko)[$11.45].  I had a few bites of the Dragon roll which was pretty good.  The smoked shrimp seemed just like regular tempura shrimp to me and had a nice crunch to it.

My Korean BBQ was kalbi – marinated and grilled short ribs.  Served up with a side of rice, this was a pile of thin sliced beef on the bone.  Eating this with chopsticks served to be quote a challenge, and I ended up picking up each piece by hand, grabbing it by the bone.  It was messy, but much easier.  The very first piece I picked up had some fairly tough, chewy bits on it.  Every piece after that, however, was incredibly tender and mostly came right off the bone with very little effort.  The meat was fantastically flavorful and had a sweet but savory, teriyaki-like flavoring to it.  The rice was not as soft as I expected.  A little soy sauce over top and this was a nice side.

Overall we were pretty impressed with this little restaurant.  Our server was on top of things (as you would expect being the only customers), refilling waters and checking up on us routinely.  I think it was just a touch on the pricey side, but that’s really the only small negative I can think of.  It’s sad to see a somewhat different yet tasty Mongolian place disappear, but this is a worthy replacement.  I hope they get some more customers and stick around for longer than Mongolian Bliss!

#151: Pizza Guys

Pizza Guys is a borderline huge chain, but I decided to go ahead with them anyway.  They have something like 60+ locations (according to their menu) in California and Nevada, with most of those in northern CA and the bay area.  Their corporate headquarters are right down Sunrise in Rancho Cordova and I pass by them every day.  The Pizza Guys here in Roseville is located at Foothills and Pleasant Grove in the same building as Los Cabos Grill.  I tried to learn a bit about the company before heading down there this evening, but their website is infuriatingly unhelpful.  It seems to be only useful if you intend on ordering online.  To get to a menu you have to actually start an order, which includes inputting all your info first.  I have half a mind to drive down to their headquarters at lunch and show them what a real company website should look like, but I digress.

I walked in at about 6:20PM and was immediately greeted by one of the two employees in the kitchen.  They asked if I had a pickup and I told them that I was going to order for take out.  I started looking at the menu when one of them came up to the counter ready to take my order.  He saw I was looking up and asked if I knew what I wanted.  When I said I have no idea yet, he told me to just let him know and he headed back into the kitchen, which is very open to the front, and continued working on pizzas.  After a moment he called to third employee for customer service.  She came up and basically asked me the same questions again and I was still looking over the menu.  The writing was quite small on the descriptions under the pizza names, so I was probably squinting.  The first guy came back up front and handed me a take-out menu (PDF) from the other end of the counter, which worked out a lot better.  I found what I wanted fairly quickly with this to look at.  I chose a medium half Garlic Lovers (original crust, creamy garlic sauce, mushrooms, Italian sausage, green onions, pepperoni, tomatoes, Mozzarella & cheddar) & half Bacon Chicken Supreme (original crust, creamy garlic sauce, grilled chicken breast, bacon, tomatoes, red onions, green onions, Mozzarella & cheddar).

A medium specialty is listed as $15.99.  There must have either been a special running or they applied a coupon because my total after tax was $15.14, and they threw in a free 2-liter of soda to top it off.  I went outside to take a photo of the front and realized immediately that I was missing a memory card (doh).  I’ll replace the iPhone picture with a proper one soon.  With that I was back inside and sitting in the small waiting area.  They were quite busy.  One of the employees was the delivery guy and had left right after my order was placed, leaving just two to handle the dinner rush, making pizzas, answering the phones and ringing up customers as they came in.  Several of them came in all at once to pick up pizzas, and they were pretty slammed for about 5-10 minutes.  Watching all this I was happy to see that they were very professional and acted with urgency in everything they did, a somewhat rare thing in pizza places in my own experience.  The delivery guy returned just in time to pull my pizza out of the oven, cut and box it, and bring it up front for me.  He asked if I got my soda yet, and I confirmed that it was a 2-liter before picking one from the cooler off to the right while he grabbed me some Parmesan packets.  He thanked me and I was on my way.  Total wait time was about 20 minutes.

The box had some heft to it for being a medium.  The bottom of it was hot and I rushed home to crack it open and dig in.  This is one of the most heavily loaded pizzas I’ve received so far for Eating Through Roseville.  I think the only one that came close (though not for the blog) was a Pizza Hut one I ordered, when they were doing their $10 any pizza promo, where I clicked triple toppings on everything just to see if they’d do it, and they sure did.  Cheddar cheese was sprinkled all over the top and partially melted.  The pizza crust was of average thickness.  Any more and I might have not liked it as much; I tend to like really thin crusts.  It was cut well and, other than the fact that the slices were heavy with toppings, was pretty easy to pick up a piece.  I have to admit that the shredded cheddar was not very appealing.  I think it was just due to it being yellow which is not a normal color I’m used to seeing on pizza (other than pineapple).  I really didn’t taste much of it, but it was gooey by the time I started eating.

Both halves had creamy garlic sauce.  It was very creamy and a little garlicly.  The Bacon Chicken Supreme side was piled high with it’s toppings.  Each one was in abundance and I almost always got a bite with some of everything.  The chicken was moist and tender and had some kind of herbs on them which were difficult to detect, but they were there.  Tons of crispy little chopped bacon covered the side.  Can’t argue with lots of bacon.  Strangely, they forgot to put green onions on this side.  It was still damn good though.  Definitely not as colorful though.  Even better than the Bacon Chicken Supreme was the Garlic Lovers.  Despite it’s name, it doesn’t really have anything more in terms of garlic than the Bacon Chicken Supreme.  Creamy garlic sauce is about it, and as I said it’s only a little garlicy.  Garlic aside, the pepperoni and sausage carry some heavy flavor on this side.  Both were strong in contrast to the other toppings.  The pepperoni had a little touch of spice to it which was excellent and the sausage was juicy and savory.  The green onions, along with the red, were crisp and tasty.  Everything overall seemed fresh and delicious.

I was kind of taken aback at how good Pizza Guys was.  If you consider it a big chain than it definitely hits above it’s own weight.  Chains usually have consistency going for them more than high quality.  I can’t comment on the consistency here but if the employees I watched during my wait are any indication than I would put money down on this store.  The pizza was certainly top notch.  I would put this squarely in my 2nd place spot just behind Rosati’s for favorite pizza in Roseville.

Website: http://pizzaguys.com/

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here

Sugary Tangent: Stieber’s Sweet Shoppe

Just a quickie.  Stieber’s doesn’t really fall in line with what I am trying to cover with this blog but I love me some truffles so I stopped in for some and took a few photos.  I just discovered this shop in the Fountains when I drove through to see if there was anything new and interesting a week or so ago.  They sell a lot of bulk candies, but also have a display case with truffles and other treats.  Their website at the moment shows a special buy 1 get 1 on truffles.  The sign out front said buy 2 get 1.  I thought I had misremembered the website so I went with it, oh well.  Anyway, I picked up a few, two milk chocolate and a peanut butter.  Mine was fantastic.  I gave the other two to my parents who said they were good.