#267: Chaodown Poki

12:15PM / 12/18/2021

https://chaodownpoki.com/

Today’s lunch is Poke at Chaodown Poki. They are located on Douglas in the small center with Sunrise Natural Foods and Mario’s Early Toast. I arrived at 12:15 and this parking lot was jam-packed. I’ve been here just once before, back in July 2020 when take-out only was in full force. As is the case with many of my recent posts, this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to dine in.

I stepped inside just behind a family which gave me plenty of time to review the space and the menu. Although they had some tables stacked up in the back of the dining room, a row of tables along the bench seating was available to sit at. It’s a nice clean and modern space with much of the kitchen open to view.

Looking at the menu I was slightly disappointed at first to see the # of scoops per bowl seemed low. They start at two with the regular bowl and top out at four for the largest size. I usually get the largest option so I peeked over to watch for the size of the scoops as the family was being served. They looked about the same size as my regular lunch Poke place in Rancho Cordova (Poke Cube). Seeing that I decided to just stick with a regular bowl ($12.50), because the 4-scoop bowl was sort of pricey at $17.50. I decided I’d order a side item to round out my order.

(click/tap for full size image)

When my turn was up I started by asking about the Chaodown Fries. They were described as seasoned fries with a couple of sauces and topped with green onions. I decided instead to get the tempura shrimp (4 for $9 – well the menu says $9 but I was charged $7). On with my bowl, I chose a base of white rice and salmon for both scoops of protein. For sauces I picked ponzu and a wasabi cream sauce, with a little extra ponzu over the rice. Asked if I wanted any other sauces I asked for recommendations and went with the suggestion of a sesame shoyu on the side.

Moving on to the toppings I chose egg, edamame, corn, crab salad, two types of masago (regular and a habanero flavor), then finished it off with some roasted sesame seeds, crispy onions and chopped peanuts. I would have added avocado as well (+$1.75) but totally forgot. With a $2.50 fountain drink my total came to $23.71 after tax.

I took a seat and dug in while my shrimp were finishing up in the deep fryer. There’s always a lot going on in these bowls, flovor and texture-wise. My usual spot doesn’t offer peanuts and I really enjoyed that little crunch and taste with everything else. I’ve seen two different types of crab salad, one that seems to stick together well and the other, which is used here, that seems a bit more coarsely sliced, a little dryer and scatters easily when stirred in the bowl. I’m not super crazy about this type but it’s a minor complaint. I was hit with a powerful wasabi aroma as I took a bite of the salmon. The flavor was much less pronounced and faded quickly. The egg was a new addition for me. While I enjoyed the soft texture it did not overcome the other flavors to be very noticeable. The habanero wasabi seemed more like a colorful variation than anything that supplied a detectable heat. I decided to check out that side of sesame shoyu about 1/3 into my bowl. It smelled incredible of strong roasted sesame. I poured the whole side over my bowl. It added a saltiness that I didn’t realize I had been missing. This was the missing flavor that took it from OK to Good. I would not omit this in the future here.

My tempura shrimp arrived within a few minutes and were very hot and crispy. They had a perfect, golden flaky batter that was a delight to bite into. They were a smidge on the greasy side and were the only thing I really needed napkins for. For the $7 that I was charged I was pretty happy with these. For $9 I might reconsider. It’s interesting to note that they offer these as a protein option for the bowls themselves.

I’ve found many poke joints to not quite hit that threshold where I return and I’ve been thinking a lot about why that is, especially given the ingredients and construction are largely similar. It feels exactly the same way with Mongolian BBQ, a connection I made today as I was eating and thinking about the flavors. With Mongolian BBQ, at least for me, their sauces are a key factor. If they aren’t rich enough or if I can’t add it myself (looking at you, Galleria’s O Tasty Mongolian) I find that I don’t return often, if at all. There is a flavor intensity to the sauces here (those that I’ve tried on my two visits thus far) just didn’t quite hit the spot for me. Other than that, the service, the dining space, and the ingredient selection here is honestly pretty decent. It’s hard not to mention the price feels a touch on the high side, but that’s going to be the case at so many places now and I doubt they’ll return to the levels we’ve enjoyed for so long. Although it probably sounds like I’m being kind of hard on this place, it was good, I’ve just become picky with my poke (that is a silly sounding phrase). I think a score of 4 of 5 is fair here.

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#262: Cantina Laredo

11:45AM / Oct. 30, 2021

I made a slight boo boo here, this is actually a chain with 21 locations far and wide (Abu Dhabi appears to be the furthest out). I suppose this is a good first candidate for my relaxed chain rules. This wasn’t even my first choice today, I pulled up at a sushi place a little earlier and realized the hours listed were not the same as I found online. I need to get in the habit of checking multiple sources for operating hours, with everything in flux these days. Well let’s get on with it, shall we?

Today for lunch I visited Cantina Laredo, an upscale-ish, modern Mexican restaurant located in the Galleria’s Promenade. The play area in front of the Cantina was busy with activity. Inside it was much quieter, just a few tables were seated. The large space is clean and well lit. A large rectangular 360º bar is the centerpiece. Surrounding it is standard table seating and booths round the space out along the walls. I was greeted right away by the host and elected to take a seat at the bar.

I skimmed over the 2-sided menu (sorry, only ended up with a photo of 1 side somehow, check it out online here) for a drink and ordered a Modelo Negro (apparently misheard as a regular Modelo, no biggie – they’re both good). Chips and salsa were served up with my beer. The chips were unremarkable. Not warm, little to no salt. The salsa was tasty and it reminded me of a more finely blended version of Chevy’s salsa.

I struggled a bit on what to order. Along with getting back into the swing of trying new restaurants I want to veer at least a little bit away from my usual food selections and check out other things. Barring this I probably would have picked the Crispy Carnitas Bowl (Pork carnitals, cilantro lime rice, black beans, corn, jalapeno, pico de gallo and Monterey Jack, with chipotle wine sauce & cilantro)[$14.50]. Instead I went back and forth a bit on some Pescado tacos or enchiladas, eventually settling on the vegetarian Espinaca Enchiladas (Two enchiladas with sautéed spinach, Monterey Jack and mushrooms, with sour cream poblano sauce, served with cilantro lime rice and black beans)[$16.50].

I snacked on chips while my entree was prepared. It was a quick ten or so minutes to be brought out, on a hot plate as I was warned. The dish was pretty simple. The enchiladas were covered in in their striped white and green sauce and flanked by the black beans and rice. I’m kinda of so/so on cilantro, but let me say the rice was very flavorful with it and really out-shined the beans, which were quite bland in comparison. Despite the hot plate, the thin layer of beans did not have enough heat in them to melt the cheese over top and the plate ended up cooling down rapidly, never giving them a chance to do so.

My enchiladas were straightforward. The soft tortilla was easily cut with a fork, revealing the spinach and mushrooms inside. The whole thing was well balanced and I got a bit of every flavor in each bite. The poblano sauce was nice and creamy with the layer of sour cream to compliment it, but I do wish it were a bit more bold and upfront.

Overall a pretty good lunch. I liked the atmosphere and it seems like a good spot for happy hour with a lively crowd. Prices were on the higher side, which I suppose is par for the course at the Galleria. I received a glowing recommendation for this place from a co-worker a while ago and I would like to return at some point to check out that carnitas bowl. Based on this visit I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5.

https://www.cantinalaredo.com/

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#257: Goose Port Sports Bar & Public House

Small announcement up front here. In addition to email notifications and FaceBook I’ve fired up an Instagram account @eatingthroughroseville

Date: 9/5/2021

Location: Goose Port Sports Bar & Public House

It’s good to be back! I’m picking up right where I left off, which puts this at #257. Yesterday for lunch I headed down to Goose Port Sports Bar & Public House. I actually thought this place was a chain for a long time. Only recently did I go looking for some more info that I discovered this is in fact the only location. They’re located in a corner spot of one of the newest buildings on Vernon Street, almost directly across from the town square event area.

I arrived at around 20-to-noon on this Saturday. As I approached and took a couple photos outside, I thought it seemed pretty quiet. The patio had just a few people seated. Inside was a different story though. It was 80-90% full. Later I snagged some photos of the interior once it had cleared out a bit.

I had a choice of a couple spots in the bar area, one a window bench-type seat and another at the bar itself. I went with the window seat and was given a few paper menus to look over.

BREAKFAST:

DRINKS:

LUNCH:

A server came by and took a drink order while I was looking over everything. I started with a Disco Ninja IPA by Revision Brewing ($7.50) and she brought a water as well. The bartender brought these out and took my appetizer order while he was at it. I went with the GP Pickle Chips (House made battered & seasoned dill coins; $8.95) Just over 5 minutes later he returned to let me know they were out of those, so I quickly did a re-scan of the menu and picked out the Spicy Poke Nachos (Sashimi grade tuna, Serrano chili’s, pineapple, green onion, sriracha aioli, wasabi soy, sesame teriyaki, crispy wanton chips; $9.95).

I sipped my Disco Ninja while I waited for the nachos. It was very cold. A nice change from many places I’ve been lately that don’t seem to bother and chill their glasses. As mentioned the place was pretty busy, and I made it a point to take a look at my watch’s noise meter, which was registering a consistent 72-74dB. Just below the 80dB that can cause hearing damage after prolonged exposure. I had my own earbuds in which served to muffle the noise slightly.

The nachos arrived in about 15 min. This was a pretty serious plate. About 2-3 layers of chip were piled upon by tuna, pineapple, cucumber, cabbage and green onions, with a decent amount of the 3 sauces applied.

I really dug this. The chips were very light and crisp. I did need to use my fork to maneuver toppings into each bite a bit as the chips were somewhat fragile. The whole chilled pile was well distributed and it was easy to get a little bit of everything in each bite without much messing around. The pineapple was awesome, incredibly flavorful. Although marketed as spicy, these only developed a bit of heat that needed a swig of beer after a number of consecutive bites. The overall flavor of the sauces was on the sweeter side and reminded me a lot of the dressing most sushi places use on their little appetizer salads. I demolished about 80% of this thing and picked out the remaining tuna and pineapple before calling it quits. I had to save room for lunch, after all 😉

There was a lull in the service about here. I waited about 30 min before the bartender came back to check on me. I ordered another beer, a Mango Cart by Golden Road Brewing, a fruited wheat ale($7.50). I also ordered the GP Corned Beef Sandwich (House-made corned beef, sauerkraut slaw, swiss and pickles on toasted sourdough; $11.95) with fries. Although the extended time was slightly annoying it ended up being a blessing in disguise, letting the nachos settle a bit and open up room to pile on top.

The Mango Cart was crisp and light, which went well with the rich flavors in my sandwich.

This thing was epic. Between the perfectly toasted sourdough was a hefty serving of corned beef with tons of melted Swiss cheese, which stretched out with each bite like a cheese pizza commercial. The pickles (wait I thought they were out of pickles…maybe they use a different type for the chips) and sauerkraut slaw blended well with the tender beef for something that just melted in your mouth with each flavorful bite.

The fries were totally fine, nothing amazing though. They needed a bit of salt and ketchup. Not that I ate many of them, I was stuffed.

Thinking Goose Port was a chain did not help my expectations meet what I encountered. I was pretty impressed overall by the food here. Service could have been more present. I would give this place a solid 4.5 or 5 with more frequent check-ups. For now, 4 out of 5 is what I’ll settle on. It’s a nice spot in the middle of Vernon St, it’s patio nearly looking right down on the Washington underpass. When the weather is right this seems like a good spot to park yourself for some drinks and grub.

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