#163: Asian Blossom

After a long non-stop day at work I have to admit I just wanted to come home and take a nap, but I didn’t want to fall behind here either.  I decided I would do an “easy” post and go to Asian Blossom for dinner.  Easy in that I’ve been to this place several times and the experience is pretty consistent.  I actually kind of feel like I’ve been cheating on Eating Through Roseville by coming here, since I only first tried this place well into the blog but never wrote about it.  It was the very first place I ever had a bowl of pho, and that’s exactly what I get every time I come here.  I like to come here alone, listen to music or podcasts and relax while sipping and slurping up the tasty broth and noodles.  One of the main reasons I like to come here for pho, versus the several other Vietnamese restaurants in town is that, because Asian Blossom is not strictly Vietnamese, they have a more diverse menu.  Really what I’m getting at is that they have Thai iced tea.  Anyway, lets dive right in.

Asian Blossom is located kitty corner from the Galleria in the same shopping center as BJ’s.  I vaguely recall it being some sort of Hawaiian BBQ type place before.  They’ve kept a lot of the styling inside, and somehow it totally works.  I arrived at 5:35PM.  Only a handful of tables were seated, almost all booths as they give the most privacy.  The booths run along one wall and you feel like you almost have a little room to yourself, even though the seat-backs aren’t really that tall.  It’s because of the fake roof that serves as a “hut” type of decoration to fit into the tropical styling.  I took the remaining booth as the server that greeted me gestured for me to sit anywhere I pleased.  As I slid onto the bench seat he left me a menu and headed off to attend to other tables.  I didn’t do much skimming of the menu (Scanned PDF — note that this is pretty old and already out of date since I scanned it after my first visit, they don’t even have the appetizer I ordered today on it, but it should give you a general idea of what to expect) since I planned on getting the same bowl of pho with rare steak as always.  The very first time I ate here I ordered one with the works: rare steak, well-done flank, fat brisket, tendon and tripe.  It was a bit much, and I like to keep it simple now.  I might even drop the steak and just go strictly noodles next time because to be honest the rare beef isn’t really all that great.

On the first page I saw that happy hour is from 3-6, something I never noticed before.  Even more interesting was that instead of a limited selection on appetizers and/or drinks at a lower price, the entire menu is 20% off, which is a pretty awesome deal, I think.  I’ve never come here during happy hour and I’ve always been pretty happy with the price, so this was a bonus for sure.  The last time I came I ordered the small bowl of pho [$5.50] as well as an appetizer, instead of just a medium or large bowl by itself.  I did the same today, choosing pot stickers [$4.75].  I ordered quickly and within just a couple minutes the server started dropping off items.  First a bag with utensils (fork, spoon and chopsticks), napkins and a fortune cookie.  Next up was a plate of condiments for my pho (thai basil, jalapenos, bean sprouts and lime).  In addition to these were the standard items on the table including Sriracha, soy and hoisin sauces.

Along with the condiments plate my Thai iced tea [$2.25] was delivered.  I drank most of this at the end of my meal but I did take a test sip after it had arrived.  It was a bit thinner than I’ve had here before, though still quite tasty.  Less than ten minutes after sitting down I had my appetizer in front of me.  These pot stickers are the deep-fried and crisp variety.  I think I prefer them just steamed, but they’re always good either way.  With the soy sauce-based dip these were excellent.  Crunchy on the outside, hot and full of flavor on the inside.  I powered through about half of the plate before my pho arrived, then alternated between the two.  The pho was as good as always.  Upon arrival the rare steak was busy cooking in the hot broth.  It was clearly pink at first and quickly turning to a uniform gray.  A big pile of the thin, translucence  noodles hit just beneath the surface.  I tossed in some bean sprouts, ripped up Thai basil leaves and squeezed a bit of lime to get started.  Today was the day I realized I didn’t even feel like having the beef in there and ate most of it first to get it out of the way.  It’s pretty bland and the texture is not that pleasant.  Once that was out of the way I was able to enjoy the delicious broth, now with a little additional flavoring from the lime and basil.  Eventually I added a big squirt of hoisin sauce.  I like to enjoy different stages of flavor as I go through the bowl.  Often I’ll eat up to a third of it without adding anything, just focusing on the subtle, delicate broth.

I’ve been very pleased with Asian Blossom since I started coming here.  The pho is delicious and the prices are excellent.  20% off the entire menu during happy hour is a very nice plus.  After tax, this meal was just under $11.  The Thai iced tea could have been a little richer this time, but usually it’s pretty good.  The service has always seemed to consist of a somewhat young staff who are quick, efficient, quiet and polite.  There are always people eating here but I’ve never seen the place busy.  I hope they are able to survive on this busy corner.

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here

#162: Cafe Americano

This morning I had a rare day off for company coming into town and getting ready for a busy wedding filled weekend.  I took the opportunity to go to breakfast and was joined by my grandma.  I saw this Amazon deal for Cafe Americano on Foothills at Junction recently and decided to try them out.  One of my readers brought this breakfast/lunch place to my attention a while ago.  They opened sometime early this year in the old Papaya Thai location.

We arrived at about 8:45AM and walked into a very quiet dining room.  There were maybe a couple tables occupied.  We were greeted instantly by the one server working at the time.  She offered us a booth or table and we took a seat.  The dining room hasn’t changed a whole lot aside from the color of the walls and new decorations.  The tables and booths are the same, as is the mini bar/counter thing that’s set up at the back of the room, which is basically an espresso bar now.  They have a menu dedicated to it.   Now seated at a small table near the windows, we were handed menus and she took our drink order.  We both ordered regular coffee, which she brought out immediately.  It was steaming hot, though not too hot to enjoy right away.  They serve Peet’s Coffee here.  I’m not even remotely a coffee connoisseur, I enjoy the drip Folgers my co-workers make, so I was pretty happy with this.  It’s free refills of course, and I had several.

The menu is long.  They start out with a big list of omelettes and move on to heavier, meat-focused plates.  After that you’ve got your typical egg-centric things like beneticts and combos, French toast, pancakes, waffles and so on.  The section that caught my eye was crepes.  It’s something you don’t run into that often around here, and I was interested in seeing how theirs was.  I picked out the California Crepe (two crepes filled with bacon, tomatoes, green onions, olives and mushrooms.  Filled and topped with American cheese and sliced avocado.  Served with hash browns or home-style potatoes.)[$8.99].  My grandma went with something from the seniors/children section, the Daylight Special (one egg, two strips of bacon or two sausage links, hash browns or home-style potatoes, served with toast or a biscuit)[$6.99].  She asked for the bacon to be a little on the crispy side.  The server mentioned that they are somewhat crispy normally, but would make a note of it.

The waiting began, and it was quite the wait.  We each had a refill or two while people paid and left, others came in to pick up to go orders, and a single person was seated and got his food well before ours.  I thought maybe he ordered ahead or that his order was insanely simple, but either way, our order took about 27 minutes according to my photo times.  That’s definitely some of the most waiting I’ve had to do for Eating Through Roseville in a while.  Right before our plates were brought out I heard a microwave ding and saw a muffin appear from that direction (which my grandma had picked in lieu of the toast or biscuit).  From my position in the dining room I could see the main make table of the kitchen and saw the cook slicing up avocado to finish up my plate.

Finally, our plates arrived.  I had also ordered a side of wheat toast which I had forgotten about.  The server mentioned that it was toasting and would be right out.  The first thing I noticed was that my avocado looked a little sad.  Upon closer inspection it appeared that in scooping it out, he really was scraping every bit of avocado out and there was traces of rind on the slices.  It wasn’t something I could taste or feel but the presentation was not great.

The crepe itself was thicker than I am used to and had a somewhat heavier, chewier texture to it.  I would put it somewhere between a crepe and a flour tortilla.  It wasn’t particularly hot, which is what my grandma said about her plate as well.  I also thought that they forgot the cheese, but I think I simply misread the description, because I did find it inside, along with all the other ingredients.  The bacon was definitely on the crispy side, though mixed in with the moist veggies it kind of lost that crisp.  Flavor-wise the whole thing was kind of blah.  Nothing really stood out to me,  Everything kind of blended together in every bite.  I had a small piece of my grandma’s stand-alone bacon and it was decent.  The hash browns I actually really enjoyed and had devoured them pretty quickly.  Mostly because they were very crisp on the top, which is how I love them.  A lot of places can’t even get them done that way when I ask for some reason, so this was nice.

Unfortunately it, and the Peet’s coffee were the highlights of this breakfast.  The toast was also not very warm and just kinda meh.  There was practically no butter on it, and I’m not sure why I expected something more than Welch’s jelly packets, but I did, and it was a little disappointing.

Overall, we were not at all impressed with our breakfast here.  The service was decent and at the very least pleasant.  There was nothing mentioned in regards to our food taking so long.  Was the experience horrible?  No, but it was certainly far from good.  We’ve got some great breakfast options in Roseville, and I highly doubt I will find myself here again.

Website: http://www.cafeamericanoroseville.com/

#161: LJ Cafe

Today I thought I’d do a bit of a mini post considering where I went.  LJ Cafe is the little semi-permanent shop set up in front of the Home Depot on N. Sunrise.  I’ve had this place rattling around in my brain for a few weeks deciding whether or not to include it.  Today I figured “why not?” since I happened to be pretty hungry right after work and I didn’t have the time to set aside for a full on post somewhere else.

I don’t know much about LJ Cafe.  I know this has been a little stand for quite a long time.  The sign says “est. 2012” so LJ’s itself is fairly recent (they’re younger than this blog, which says something, although I’m not sure what).  Aside from the fact that it’s basically a parked trailer it’s set up pretty nicely.  The menu is bright, clean and easy to read (click the photo of it below for a bigger version).  The structure itself looks well maintained and the presentation by the order/pickup window had little pumpkins for the season (and a sign saying they had pumpkin pie).  Seating consists of a few metal tables with umbrellas.  I suspect most people coming here are taking their orders to go though.

I arrived at 4PM sharp and looked over the menu.  It reads a lot like a coffee shop combined with a little league snack shack.  The main items are mostly variants of hot dogs, and they also have a hamburger & cheeseburger.  Some other items are nachos and pretzels.  They also serve breakfast including churizo burritos, breakfast sandwiches, bagels and muffins.  I went with their basic hot dog, “The Rusty Dog” (Couldn’t stop thinking about the Simpsons episode where George H. Bush didn’t think a Krusty Burger sounded too appetizing).  I got it in a combo which included a soda and a bag of chips [$5.75].  They had Cheetos, Doritos or Lays to choose from.

I paid up and a little less than 10 minutes later my name was called out from the little window.  I grabbed my dog, drink, chips and napkins and had a seat at one of the tables.  The Rusty Dog regularly comes with ketchup, mustard, onions and relish.  I skipped the relish.  There was quite a bit of ketchup and mustard on it, but at least it was applied in a visually interesting way.  It was much more than I would put on a hot dog myself.  The onions were crisp and there was just the right amount.  The hot dog itself was tasty enough for a basic dog.  The one thing I wasn’t crazy about was the bun, which I found to be a little overly chewy.  The chips and soda were exactly what you would expect.

Overall, not too shabby for what it is.  The service was extremely friendly.  The people watching was slightly more interesting than the food to be honest.  I can’t say I’ve ever sat in front of a Home Depot for more than a couple minutes, but I bet they could figure out a way to make a reality series out of it.  Coming here for the food and not stepping foot in the Depot was an odd experience.

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