#194: Fat’s Asia Bistro & Dim Sum Bar

For dinner yesterday I was joined by several family members at Fat’s Asia Bistro & Dim Sum Bar, on the corner of Eureka and Rocky Ridge.  It’s been quite a long time since I’ve been here, well over 5 years and maybe as many as 10.  I remember Fat’s being one of the early nicer restaurants in Roseville as the growth was in full swing.  It is part of the Fat’s Family of Restaurants, a collection of four Chinese & American cuisine restaurants in the Sacramento area.  This Fat’s has a handful of various Asian dishes but the menu is primarily Chinese.

I arrived a little before everyone else to get my exterior photo and then headed in just before 5PM.  The parking lot was pretty full.  A lot of that was due to a business function going on in the back room, which we could hear throughout our dinner.  The dining room was fairly quiet, but the bar was busy with a happy hour crowd.  I took a seat near the end of the bar and was quickly greeted by a bartender.  He filled me in on the draught beers on the other end that I couldn’t see, then I chose a large Sapporo [$4 happy hour] which was set in front of me almost immediately.  The bar looked to have a nice selection, with a big wall of liquor on display.  The part directly in front of me was partially open, giving a view into kitchen.

In just a few minutes my family had arrived and I met them at a large, circular table in one corner of the central dining area.  We had 5 total and fit comfortably in here.  The table was equipped with a lazy susan, which worked out great for family-style ordering.  Soon we met our server who got our drinks going.  I already had my Sapporo but the rest ordered a bottle of Double Decker Pino Grigio [$28] and a pot of hot green tea [$3.25].  We were in no rush, took our time reading the menu and ordered a couple of appetizers soon after the beverages arrived.  He returned with a bucket of ice for the wine and just a couple of minutes later the appetizers came out.  We had the Chicken in Lettuce Cup (minced chicken with water chestnuts, pine nuts, and hoisin sauce)[$11] and Pork Shu Mei (steamed pork-filled dumpling)[$9].

The Chicken in Lettuce Cup is pretty similar to the poplar appetizer at PF Chang’s and some otter places, but the hoisin sauce is served on the side, which left the chicken looking a little dull.  As I was taking a picture of it and thinking it looked a bit like Fancy Feast, my sister-in-law pretty much said the same thing out loud, which made me laugh.  This came with a TON of lettuce, way more than we needed.  It was a nice change from having to always ask for more lettuce at PFC.  The lettuce was cold and extremely crisp.  The chicken was good though the way it’s prepared elsewhere, where I think they cook the sauce into it, is much better.  It also looks more appetizing.  The hoisin sauce was viscous and sickly sweet.  As for the Pork Shu Mei, this was the first time I’ve ever ordered dumplings.  I’ve been curious about them for years but something often looked better anytime I came across them previously.  They were served in the little wooden container with a lid.  Lifting this off revealed 5 or 6 little open dumplings stuffed with pork.  It was not quite was I was expecting, having seen only the closed type on the web and on Anthony Bourdain’s shows.  The amount that I see them raved about had my expectations quite high and, while they tasted pretty good, they were not anywhere near as good as I had hoped.  These were tightly wrapped and solid.  Cutting one in half, the 2 pieces retained their shape and left me wondering if they are prepared far in advance and reheated when ordered.  If anyone knows where I can find some truly amazing dumplings without traveling back to Asia, do tell in the comments below or shoot me an email at eatingthroughroseville@gmail.com.

We were somewhere in the middle of our appetizers when we ordered our food.  Note that this doesn’t mean our server was slacking, he was on top of things.  The appetizers had come very quickly and he was very much present regularly.  We ordered:

  • Honey Walnut Prawns (in a light sauce with caramelized walnuts) [$18.50]
  • Orange Chicken (with chili and our own zesty orange sauce) [$16]
  • Mongolian Beef (with jalapeno peppers and green onions) [$17.50]
  • Veggie Fried Rice (with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, mushrooms and fresh basil) [$9]
  • Garlic Green Beans (“a fat family favorite”, so self explanatory I guess) [$10]

This all came out swiftly, within 10-15.  A different server brought it all out on a big tray and set each plate down at our table, naming them as she did so.  One item was incorrect, we were given vegetable chow mien instead of the fried rice.  We told her right then and she apologized and took it back.  Our server came by a minute later and apologized himself while refilling a water.  The replacement rice was very prompt, arriving in just 4 minutes.  Everything was hot, many of them steaming.

The garlic green beans were coated in a slippery garlic sauce, though the garlic was not very strong.  In fact there wasn’t a ton of flavor aside from the beans themselves.  They were a bit firm, while still easily chewable, and they squeaked with each bite.  They were probably my least favorite item on the table.  Some of the others agreed, but my grandma seemed to like them just fine.

The Mongolian beef was nice and tender.  It was drowning in a sweet and savory sauce and mixed in with lots of green onions and a fair amount of slice jalapeños.  Aside from the jalapeños, this wasn’t actually very spicy at all.  Even the peppers themselves didn’t have much of a kick to them.  I definitely prefer the crispier, spicier, less sweet and less saucy variety of this dish.

The orange chicken was the best thing we got.  I do recall it being very good years ago.  The pieces were good sized, crisp in their thin batter and full of delicious flavor with a zing of orange to them.  The chicken inside was moist and tasty.  The only thing that came close to this was the veggie fried rice which was excellent, both then and today as leftovers.

The last item, honey walnut prawns, are often my favorite item at Chinese restaurants.  On top of that, having had ridiculously amazing versions of them at Bambu Asian Cuisine and Leo’s Kitchen, I now have an entirely new level of expectation for this dish.  Unfortunately, Fat’s prawns fell much, much short of that level.  I would deem them as acceptable.  There were few walnuts and the prawns themselves were light on flavor.

Overall I found myself surprisingly underwhelmed with the food here at Fat’s.  I remember so long ago really enjoying this restaurant.  There are two possible reasons for this disappointment.  Back then I wasn’t nearly as into food and trying lots of different things as I am now, so I had little to compare Fat’s to at the time.  Maybe I just expect more out of restaurants these days, and/or the food has declined in quality over the years.  My mom mentioned that she too hadn’t been here in a long time after discovering one visit that they no longer had her favorite dish, orange beef.  I felt that the prices were quite high, which I guess i always kind of knew but had forgotten about.  You’re definitely paying for the nicer atmosphere, service and fancy leftover/takeout bags than you’ll get at any other Chinese restaurant around here.  The service was good, our server in particular did a great job, was very attentive, personable and had an excellent sense of humor.  Ultimately I will be sticking to the little mom & pop restaurants for my Chinese fix, we certainly have some good ones to chose from.

#193: The Station: A Bistro & Lounge

A while back I drove by The Station and noticed a sign that said Nouzari’s American Grill. First I thought “huh, The Station is gone.” Second I realized I had never been there and that I was pretty sure I had missed it entirely when making my list. Sure enough when I got home and pulled up the map, it wan’t there. I’ve been thinking about it regularly since then and last night finally went over to check it out.

The Station (which it is still called) is the odd building made up of railcars on Orlando, right across the street from Back Forty Texas BBQ that’s been there forever. This one was a strange one to try and get an exterior picture of because it doesn’t really seem to have a “front”. It’s just railcars from every angle. The entrance does not face the street and is near one end of the red caboose. I’m not really sure of the history, I’ve only ever known it at The Station, and didn’t even really know what it was beyond the name. From what I understand, the kitchen side of things has been commandeered by Nouzari’s American Grill, but everything else is basically the same.

I headed in at about 5:45. It was extremely quiet inside, which was even more apparent due to how wide open the place is inside. It was not at al what I was expecting. I figured it would be a maze of rooms and railcar hallways, but there is only one (plus the caboose) that you can go into and is clearly that, a railcar. The rest is a giant room with a bar on one side, kitchen on the other visible through a couple windows and a dance floor in-between. A huge oversized disco ball hangs in the middle of the vaulted ceiling. There is a smallish stage for live music and a side area with lots of tables.

I was slowly meandering past the bar while taking a look around and the bartender said to me “here’s a good spot” and cleared an empty glass from the middle of the bar. I asked for a menu and ordered a blue moon. She asked me if I wanted a regular or super(might have been a different word, but along the lines of super) Blue Moon. I figured it was just a size difference but asked just in case. That was a good thing because I learned that the Super Blue Moon basically has a shot in it, upping the alcohol. I opted for the standard. She then asked if I wanted an orange slice or OJ. I’ve never heard of OJ in a Blue Moon, though in hindsight it totally makes sense. She poured me a small amount to try first and it was pretty good so I went ahead with it.  It’s kind of a sweeter, smoother orange flavoring than you get by squeezing an orange into it.  I kinda dug it.

Meanwhile I looked over the menu, which was broken into Burgers/Sandwiches, Pasta and Steak/Chops. Nothing was really standing out to me on the 2nd page so I went back to the burgers and eventually settled on the California burger (Jack cheese, bacon, avocado & all the trimmings)[$9.00]. I added bacon and put in the order.  This took about ten minutes to prepare and be brought out to me.

The fries were very hot and crisp.  They didn’t have a ton of flavor.  Salt could have helped (it and pepper were offered to me) but I found that ketchup was really all they needed.  The burger was served open-faced.  The “trimmings” consisted of lettuce, tomato, red onions and pickles atop a layer of mayo and mustard.  The lettuce and onions were nice and crisp and the tomatoes incredibly ripe, juicy and flavorful.  I took half the pickles off because 4 seemed like a bit much.  The other side was the patty, which I think I had asked for cooked medium.  On top of that was an already melted slice of Jack cheese, three or four thin slices of avocado and a couple of long, folded, crisp strips of bacon.  After removing the pickles I put it all together and carefully picked it up.  The mayo and mustard were a little on the heavy side, which was fine because it was pretty tasty and to be honest, the patty needed a little bit of help there.  It was warm and generally cooked medium, perhaps leaning to medium-well.  I found the avocados were not as ripe and soft as they could have been, so they didn’t have a ton of influence in this burger.  The bacon was pretty good and there was enough for a little in each bite.  I didn’t really taste the cheese very much.  The veggies were all great.

This one kind of reminded me of the burger at Diamond Plate where the produce was the star, but this one had a little more potential to it.  The bartender here was all kinds of awesome, very friendly, funny and chatty.  The time that I chose to come here doesn’t at all showcase what the station is about, but I was here for dinner only, so that’s all I’m really basing this on.


#192: Milo’s Grill

It’s been a little while but I’m still alive and today I’m back to work.  Some time ago I discovered that Tuesday is the day to go to the Galleria.  Milos Grill was the last place on my list inside the mall so I waited for today to head over there and avoid any crowds.  Early on in the blog I visited Milo’s Cheesesteaks and Gyros over on Foothills at Pleasant Grove.  I was not sure if this one was related or not.  There is a 3rd Milo’s out in Rocklin too.  I learned tonight from one of the employees that they are all, in fact, related.  Different family members own and operate each one.  The parents and originators opened the Rocklin one, their sons opened this one in the mall and their daughter(s?) opened the other one in Roseville.  They seem to be generally independent of each other aside from that relation.

I headed into the Galleria at about 5:30PM.  It was nice and quiet, not as much as last time though.  Upstairs in the food court, Milo’s Grill is front and center, back to back with Ruby Thai Kitchen in the middle of the court.  I walked up and started going over the menu.  There were a few employees working at the time.  I chatted with one momentarily about cameras and a minute or so later one of the others asked if I had any questions.  The menu is split across three static LCD displays.  The first is gyros, the second hoagies and the third finishes up with vegetarian options, a kids section, sides and desserts.  I asked if the gyros are standalone (and phrased the question to not include the word gyros because I wanted to see how she pronounced them.  Unfortunately she called them sandwiches so the plan failed).  She confirmed that they are sold by themselves and that you can add a side like fries, salad or onion rings.  I then asked how big they were.  She led me down to the other end of the stand (to the far right of the photo) to show me some made up displays of several dishes.  They were decent sized, probably a little larger than one at Daphne’s.  I decided to get a standard beef/lamb gyro and add some seasoned fries.  With a drink this came out to just over $10.

I was handed a pager, similarly to Buckhorn Grill.  This must be standard for many of the Galleria food joints.  I took a seat nearby and waited a short time, about 4 minutes, before the pager went off.  Soon I was back at my table with my tray.  On it was a plate with the gyro and a good amount of fries.  Alongside was several napkins and packets of ketchup.  The gryro was nice and hot, slightly steaming away.  The fries were also hot, so everything was fresh and cooked to order.  The fries seemed to be normal ones, but after looking at their menu again they must have been the seasoned ones because the only other options were cajun and garlic.  Indeed they had a little bit of spice to them, though it was not as visible as the ones from the other Milo’s in Roseville.  They were pretty good both on their own and with ketchup, and they were fairly crisp.

The gyro was packed with meat, hot chili peppers, tomatoes, grilled onions and (I think both based on the flavor and the fuzzy menu when I zoom WAY in on it) Sriracha sauce.  The whole thing is topped with cool and creamy Tzatziki sauce.  This was fantastic from start to finish.  The pita bread was incredibly soft, warm and very tasty even on it’s own.  The beef/lamb blended meat was hot, very juicy and tender.  The combo of hot peppers and Sriracha sauce added a really rich flavor and spice that built over consecutive bites and was simultaneously tempered by the Tzatziki sauce.  It was a great combo.  The further into this gyro the more meat I encountered.  I think it was a pretty good value for $7.

Overall I was quite impressed by this Milo’s.  By the end I had talked with all three employees that I saw and all were very friendly.  I asked before I left which pronunciations of gyros they hear and which one they think is correct.  I was told they get year-oh, ghee-row, guy-row and jai-row, and that they go by guy-row.  I’ve heard them all and have never seen any unanimous agreement on any of them as being correct, which is why I am always curious what the business goes by when I encounter them.  The best explanation I’ve heard is that in Greece it starts with a sound that is a mixture of all three which is not a common sound in the English language, so they are all kind of correct and all accepted.  Now that I’m done with the Galleria eateries (unless I’ve missed one, please let me know in the comments if I have!), I have to say that we have a very solid food offering available in our mall.  There is something for everyone, even with the few chains in there.

Website: http://www.eatatmilos.com (seems outdated)