Oops, took a week off by accident! Back to work. Today I finally knocked a place off my list which I have failed to do a few times now – Mitsuko’s Cafe & Deli located at Foothills and Albertsons Drive (near Blue Oaks). This is a breakfast/lunch place that I assume lives mostly off of the HP crowd and the truck drivers from the distribution center behind it. The hours are 8 or 9-5 Monday thru Friday. Their menu, website and window both say 9am but my receipt says 8am. The menu and window both say they are open on Saturday as well, however I tried to stop by for lunch on two different Saturdays and they were closed. The website says they are closed on Saturday. Basically, it’s confusing. Having not visited the website until just now (mostly because I completely did not expect them to even have one), it was very frustrating (kind of like El Charro Taqueria). Today I had a small lunch and knew I had to get back to posting, so I headed out almost immediately after getting back into Roseville from work, figuring if I caught them on a weekday that I should be golden.
I arrived at this little standalone building which shares the lot with a gas station and a Midas at about 4:10PM. The parking lot is a couple of rows in a 90 degree angle following the road and the building, leaving lots of room for donuts in the space between it and the Midas. You know people do donuts here. It’s practically asking for them. Inside there was just one customer, eating and watching TV. The dining room is fairly small, just 6 or so small tables and 4 oddly large booths that could probably seat 10 each. Outside there is some more seating for when the weather is nice. As soon as I walked through the door I was greeted by a woman at the counter, who gave my camera a long look and asked if I was taking nice pictures. I just smiled and said “yup”. I sometimes wonder what people think when I wonder into their restaurant with my 7D. Most people seem to ignore it, some regard me with suspicion and even fewer are interested and actively engage me about it.
Anyway, I skimmed over the menu for a bit and asked if she had any suggestions. I always find it funny when people don’t suggest anything or even really have a response to the question. That was the case here although she had a smile the whole time so it wasn’t too awkward. The menu consists of breakfast, cold & hot sandwiches, Asian entrees/meals, quesadillas, hamburgers and soup. I decided to go the Asian entree route since the few reviews I’ve seen for this place over time always seemed to say good things about them. I nearly picked the bulgogi and then the chicken teriyaki, but settled on the honey mustard chicken (all Asian entrees served on rice with salad) [$7.99]. She seemed surprised by my choice and asked if I had heard about it. I hadn’t, and she said it was very popular and looked pleased with my decision. She asked what kind of dressing I wanted for the salad and listed off ranch, blue cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, honey mustard and “Asian” when I asked. I went with the Asian, curious to see what kind it was. I also added a medium fountain drink [$1.59] which, she made sure to tell me, came with free refills. I kind of said “and….” while looking back at the menu, looking for maybe an appetizer or something small to throw on for some more variety to try out. She noticed this and asked if it was just me eating, then strongly urged that I would have plenty of food with what I already ordered, mentioning that they have big portions. I said that sounded good to me, paid and took a seat after filling my soda up. She called my order in through the kitchen doorway and then disappeared inside until my food was ready.
I waited for about 7 minutes, listening to the pop music playing over the speakers, until she came back out and around the counter, bringing the plate out to my table along with a couple of napkins. It was a pretty good sized plate. There was plenty of everything. The chicken was a pile of about six long strips perched atop a bed of sticky steamed rice. Behind that pile was a pretty decent amount of salad, which was mostly lettuce with some carrot slivers and purple cabbage. The Asian dressing and the honey mustard were in little containers on opposite corners. The dressing turned out to be the type you might get on a Chinese chicken salad. Pretty sweet with just a little bit of a tanginess to it. I enjoyed it, and the lettuce was cold and very crisp. I grabbed a bottle of soy sauce from a tray on the counter which was also home to a variety of hot sauces including Sriracha, Franks Red Hot, Tobasco and Tapatio. A dash of this here and there over the rice made it very enjoyable. I love it when rice is super sticky like this was. On to the chicken. It had a really interesting, super crispy, super flaky and golden brown batter to it. It was almost like it was made from corn flakes (and could very well have been). The chicken inside was very hot, right out of the frier, and was incredibly tender and juicy. The honey mustard was awesome. I’m a big fan of honey mustard and it can really vary a lot from place to place. This one was right up my alley. It was viscous and stuck to the chicken strips very easily, was extremely rich in flavor with a perfect balance of sweet honey to tangy mustard. I destroyed this entire plate.
A few minutes into my meal the woman came back around with another little plate. This one had three thick apple slices on it in a very nice presentation. I’m guessing this came with my meal, although it is not mentioned anywhere. I happily crunched away on these after finishing the salad, rice and chicken. They were a very nice finish to a surprisingly good dinner. I have to admit I had never really expected much from this little cafe, hidden back from the main road. Even when I worked right around this intersection for over 4 years I never had the inclination to try it out. Of course, back then it was something else, the Refinery or something like that, but the point stands. There are probably lots of HP employees today who have never given it a second thought and, in my opinion, are missing out. Are you one of them?