#190: CJF Chinese Fine Cuisine

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This is kind of an accidental posting.  I went to CJF Chinese Fine Cuisine today to get some lunch.  China Run, a fast-Chinese restaurant that I was quite fond of, used to reside in this location.  A while back I read a post from their Facebook account saying they had sold the business.  Soon the place was renamed to CJF.  I wandered in one night to get some dinner some time ago and was told they did not have single-sized servings on the menu.  That annoyed me so I went somewhere else and haven’t retuned since.

Recently I had looked back at my post on China Run and realized I needed to update it to reflect the name change, but before doing that I figured I’d better go eat there and confirm that it was just a new name, not a new restaurant with different food entirely.  So here we are, I did just that today and it is indeed different, so this post is about it.

I stepped in at around 1:40PM.  Inside, not much has changed.  A cooler with energy drinks was added next to the soda fountain, the menu is new and the China Run logos were gone.  Other than that, colors, tables, chairs and the kitchen remained the same.  There were a handful of people in a few groups seated and eating.  I was greeted quickly by one of the two people working.  The other was busy cooking up something in a large wok against the back wall.  Up at the register, the man waiting to take my order had a jacket that had “Chef Edward Liu” embroidered on it.  Based on one of their earliest Facebook posts I am gathering that he is also the owner.

He showed me their lunch specials (which they did have the previous time I went in, but obviously they are not available at dinner time) which were pretty basic, one item and some chow mien or fried rice in the neighborhood of $6-7.  I decided I wanted to order off the main menu and have leftovers for dinner.  This menu is simple and broken down in sections with an average of 5 items each.  I figured I should order the General Chicken [$8.50], which was my favorite item at China Run, since I needed to confirm if this was different or not.  I went with that and also an order of Chicken Chow Mein [$7.95].  I noticed a laminated menu over near the lunch specials which showed many of the main menu items but in smaller quantities, served in a 27oz container I believe.  I asked him what the size difference was between these and the main menu and he confirmed that the smaller ones were about half size.  The prices were maybe 40% less than their full-sized counterparts.  I’m happy to see that they’ve added these options.

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All paid up I took a seat and waited for maybe 5-7 minutes.  He bagged up two BIG boxes (see the soda can for scale), handed me a paper to-go menu at my request and I was off.  Once home, I unpacked and popped open each box.  I immediately knew that this was not China Run with a new name.  The chicken was considerably lighter in color and had less sauce than China Run’s and the Chow Mein noodles were much, much thicker.  I was concerned about the chicken being steamed to death and loosing any crunch on the ride home.  Thankfully they held up pretty well and I could tell when I scooped some onto a plate that they were still fairly crisp.

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Digging in, I had further confirmation that this was not China Run’s recipe.  While I found the flavor to be OK, it was nowhere near as rich and delicious as China Run’s and it had zero spice to it.  The outside batter was mostly pretty crisp and enjoyable, as I had anticipated.  The chicken inside was unfortunately somewhat dry and stringy.  A few pieces were better.  Overall it was not great.  The chicken in the Chicken Chow Mein was actually much more tender and better overall, though it was very bland.  That was true of the whole chow mein as a whole.  It was hot and the noodles were cooked well, it was just kinda blah.

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I was upset that China Run decided to sell and close down, as it was kind of a spiritual successor to the late Pickup Stix which I also loved.  Having thought that CJF was serving the same food made it better, but now that I know it’s not the same and not nearly as good, I’m upset again.  There isn’t much in the way of really good, fast Chinese in Roseville.  The owner seemed like a nice guy and the place was still clean and new-looking.  The amount of food I got for $17 made it an excellent value.  Perhaps there are better things to choose from.  Judging by the mostly very positive Yelp reviews that must be the case.  Personally, I’ll probably stick with Prime Wok in Rocklin for this type of quick, cooked-to-order Chinese food.

By the way: I’ve only got about 9 restaurants to go, crazy huh!?

CJF Chinese Fine Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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