#284: Tang’s Sushi

6PM, 10/19/2022

On Wednesday for dinner I headed over to give Tang’s Sushi, located at Blue Oaks & Foothills, another try (they were closed for lunch on my first attempt). I arrived just before 6PM. The dining room was pretty busy, and there were even a few people siting in the waiting area (some for take out, some for tables). They have a patio and it was actually quite nice outside, but I opted to sit inside since the sun was setting soon (not that it helped my photos, I’m not super proud of these ones 😐 ). Anyway, there happened to be a 2-top table available and I was seated immediately. The sushi bar was not set up for customers at the time.

I skimmed the menu and picked out my order, then checked out the interior while I awaited my server. The last time I was in this building was in 2014 when I visited Sakura Sushi for this blog, and my sushi chef at the time was, in fact, Tang himself! I looked up the dining room photo from that post to see what, if any, changes had been made since then. I couldn’t really notice anything different – from the color of the walls, the light fixtures, tables and chairs, art work and the neat river rock feature, encased in a metal frame that runs around the dining area – it was identical. In fact, the only major difference (other than the name on the building) was that the trees out front have grown so much in the last 8 years that I had to pick a different angle to snap from. The dining room photo above is actually that one from Sakura, as I forgot to shoot one on my way in/out this visit.

I placed my order for the Blossom Balls appetizer (Spicy Crab Wrapped with Salmon and Tuna Sashimi)[$14.95], the Small Sashimi Combo (10 pieces of Assorted Sashimi {Chef’s Choice})[$23.95] and the Super Fresh roll ({Tempura Asparagus, Spicy Crab Salad} Avocado, Tuna, Tempura Jalapeno, Unagi Sauce, Spicy Mayo)[$14.95] at 6:03. I skimed the beverages but opted to stick with water, on account of the impending cost of this meal and also having just come from donating blood. Five minutes after ordering, the soup and salad (included with the sashimi combo) arrived along with wasabi/ginger. The miso soup was steaming hot and the salad crisp and cold. The salad had that typical sweet, creamy dressing in just the right portion for this little bowl. Once I had finished that and the soup had cooled off a little bit I downed it in a few big gulps. It was very warming and a touch salty. Pretty standard so far.

All three items arrived together about fifteen minutes later. The sashimi and roll were served on a wooden board, something like 14×10″. I only mention the size because it looked like others had the same sized board. At this little table with my gear it took up a fair amount of space. There was quite a bit of empty space on it given my order, however the presentation was nice, something most sushi places excel at. I tried a little bit of everything on the first round and ended up saving all three remaining blossom balls for the end. The roll was straightforward and had just a tiny bit of spiciness to it. I always love a tempura asparagus and seek them out in rolls. This one was good but I wished the tempura batter was a little fuller/crunchier. There was a sprinkling of what sort of looked like crushed pistachios on top and around the roll, which I picked up with bites using the sticky rice to do so. I’m not sure if they were pistachios or not but they did add a nice little extra crunchy texture.

Moving on to the sashimi, I received (left to right, top to bottom) Tuna (bluefin perhaps?), Katsuo or Shiro Maguro (this one is totally a guess), Hamachi (yellowtail) and Sake (salmon). The tuna was the only one that I was not particularly crazy about, and I usually like tuna. It seemed a bit more limp and lacking flavor than I’m used to. The salmon, which is generally my favorite, had good texture but was lacking that buttery flavor I love. I think it was slightly leaner than typical salmon. The yellowtail and the other one were both excellent. All were enjoyed with a little dip in soy sauce.

This brings me to the Blossom Balls. These were unreal. The spicy crab mix actually had a noticeable kick to it. In addition to the crab and sashimi it was doused with an oily-looking sauce that I think really made this a home run, although I couldn’t tell you what it was! These were just a hell of a treat packed with flavor and almost melted in your mouth. I think I could live off of these alone. I was initially mildly annoyed that these came with my main dish(es) instead of ahead but ultimately happy that I was able to save the last three bites to be these. Highlight of the evening for sure.

I love that Tang had been at Sakura previously and has made the spot his own. It was good before, and while tonight wasn’t perfection, it was a good visit and a satisfying dinner. I was very pleased at being seated with zero wait and with how quick everything came out. Add another to the ever-growing list of solid sushi joints in Roseville.


AM27: Burger Dive (Roseville, MN)

2PM, 10/6/2022


It’s Eating Through Roseville, Bizarro-Roseville Edition! On my trip to visit the folks in WI I had an opportunity to visit our sister Roseville in Minnesota, snuggled right in-between the Twin Cities. I vividly recall the first time I learned of this Roseville. It was around the year 2000 and at the time I was working as a cashier at the SportMart in Roseville Square. A customer wanted to buy a gift card to send to someone in MN and I was looking through a binder to see what SportMart locations might be close to them, and there it was, a location in Roseville, MN.

Roseville, MN is a small-ish suburb with a population of just under 40,000. Much like our Roseville it’s home to a nice mall, the Rosedale Center. I scoured google maps and yelp for a place to visit and landed on Burger Dive, which is located in the food court here (known as POTLUCK, apparently).

Here in POTLUCK, Burger Dive shares a space with a joint called the Smack Shack, which is a seafood place known for lobster rolls (I later saw one of these as a stand alone location in the MSP airport on my way home). They have a few locations in the area including this one.

In the Rosedale Center
Smack Shack in MSP

I found my way to the food court and discovered that this spot had a full bar. Looking at the other Burger Dive and Smack Shack locations, this appears to be more of a Smack Shack thing. The bartender noticed me taking photos right away and invited me over to have a seat once I was at the counter checking out the menu. I asked him if he had any recommendations, and after asking if I liked heat he enthusiastically pointed out the burger of the month – The Ghost Burger (Two Smashed Patties, Ghost Pepper Jack and Cheddar Cheese, Bacon, Sweet and Spicy Pepper Relish and Habanero-Lime Aioli)[$14]. I added fries [$5] and made them Cajun [no up-charge, and this is technically on the Smack Shack side of the menu] when he offered the option. This also comes with a bag of Dutch Crunch kettle chips, which I took with me to snack on later.

Since I was at the bar a beer seemed to be in order, so I ordered a Surly Furious IPA (6.7%)[$6.50]. This was a nice, very hoppy IPA, which was nice to bounce to and from the spicy burger with.

My order was ready in about eight minutes and came out on a metal tray. The Ghost Pepper Jack and (white) Cheddar cheeses caught my eye right away – big, thick slices that were nice and melty and oozing out the sides onto two crisp slices of bacon. Like most smash burger type patties, they were fairly greasy and had loads of nice crispy bits around the edges. Right away I was hit with the heat from the aioli and Ghost Jack cheese. It came on strong and stayed that way all the way through. By the end I was actually sweating a little bit, but it was great. It was nice to step out into the brisk, cool air on the way out after this. All the various ingredients from the seasoned beef to the sweetness of the relish all held up well against the wall of spiciness. It’s a tricky balancing act to get the heat that high but not overwhelm the rest of the ingredients, and they’ve got it down on this.

During my stay the bartender was fun and lively, talking with the half dozen or so people at the bar for lunch, and served up a shot to everyone followed by a cranberry chaser that mimicked a PB&J.

The fries were OK. Those that received a generous dusting of Cajun seasoning helped keep the heat on during my brief breaks from the burger. The rest were pretty plain and really could have used some salt and/or ketchup. I didn’t end up eating more than a third of these. They were nice and crisp though.

For picking this place out of dozens of unknown options, I think I did very well. This place makes a solid burger and the vibe sitting at the bar often had me forgetting I was in a mall food court until I turned around to see it behind me. Should you ever find yourself in this area craving a burger, I’d recommend it for sure.


AM26: Iron Horse Tavern (SMF)

5AM / 10/06/2022


Thursday morning I was off and up out. I thought it would be a nice opportunity to finally visit a restaurant in Terminal A at SMF. Almost six years ago I checked out Cafeteria 15L in terminal B. Today I visited Iron Horse Tavern, which is sort of the main dining option in this original terminal. There are a couple other eateries here including Freshii and Squeeze Inn, but this early in the morning the tavern and Peet’s Coffee is pretty much your selection. Peet’s always seems to have an enormous line so it was kind of nice to just stroll on in to this place and seat myself. There is a little island of a bar directly out front of the main dining area. A worker was just getting started prepping it for the day when I was heading out to my gate.

I arrived at the airport right about at 5AM, breezed through security like a leaf on the wind (watch as I soar), and headed straight from security into the food court, which is just past the checkpoint. Despite checking the hours ahead of time, I was a little worried as I approached because it looked like they might have been closed, however once I got closer I spotted people inside.

Taking my seat, with a nice view of the tarmac, I was greeted right away by the single server working at the time. As I looked at the menu QR code on the table and started to reach for my phone she brought a physical menu and took my drink order, a cup of coffee ($3.74). I looked at the breakfast section, which consisted of 4 items:

  • Breakfast Burrito (scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, cheese, salsa, guacamole)[$16.68]
  • Breakfast Plate (scrambled eggs, your choice of bacon or sausage, red peppers, onions, served with breakfast potatoes)[$17.79]
  • Egg & Cheese Bagel Sandwich [$16.68]
  • Bacon, Egg & Cheese Bagel Sandwich [$16.68]

The menu felt FAR more interesting when I had looked at it online. The website doesn’t actually acknowledge the airport location now that I look back at it again. Just the Sacramento and Folsom locations. I don’t really blame it.

While they will customize your order a bit, the limitations are fast and firm. As I overheard the table near me attempt to order a breakfast item with a dairy-free request, the server basically explained that pretty much everything is pre-prepared. That customer ended up leaving empty handed. I ended up ordering the burrito as-is. As only assembly was required I expected this to arrive very quickly. It ended up taking about 8 minutes, a little longer than I would have thought necessary.

I was delighted by the unexpected tater tots that accompanied it. They were golden crispy but I think even these are made in a large batch and staged in a buffet type heat tray until needed. This assumption was based on the temperature, which was somewhere between warm and hot, and how some of them were a bit mangled by whatever serving utensil was used to scoop them up. They were a decent little crunchy side to have, although they weren’t terribly notable otherwise.

The burrito was fairly small, smaller than any other burrito at this price point for sure, but also smaller than most burritos in general I would say. It’s perhaps a little bit more substantial than a beefy 5-layer burrito at Taco Bell. The good: it was constructed extremely well. Every bite had a little bit of everything, the tortilla was soft yet held together well all the way to the end without getting gummy. The OK: The eggs really dominated the flavor followed by tiny amounts of bacon, which added small bursts of saltiness, which the burrito otherwise lacked. The bad: This thing was pretty bland and totally uniform in texture. I would not go so far to describe this meal as enjoyable.

My server was very busy the entire time, yet stopped by frequently enough and refilled my coffee when it was about half empty. As bare-bones as the service is here, it was good. Overall though this place was extremely disappointing, especially when compared to my Terminal B experience. It’s really just an incredibly basic cafeteria masquerading as a full service restaurant. Perhaps the lunch/dinner experience is more worthwhile.

Side note: this post was made completely on the road with an iPad, and I hated every minute of it. Serves me right for trying to travel light. Put MacOS on the iPad already, Apple!