#284: Tang’s Sushi

6PM, 10/19/2022
https://www.tangsushi.com

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.

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#279: Local Kitchens

1:15PM 6/18-19/2022

https://order.localkitchens.com/store/roseville/

A couple of months ago a co-worker recommended Local Kitchens, located on Fairway (near Kohl’s, BevMo, In’n’Out), and told me a little about it. It sounded a bit like a few food trucks got together and leased a brick and mortar restaurant space. I didn’t really have much of an idea what it would be like. Does each vendor have their own counter? Does it feel like a food court? Is it pickup only? Today I have answers to these questions and more as I just returned from lunch #2 in as many days at Local Kitchens.

Sometimes I like to go in cold, doing zero research. Sometimes this gets me into trouble, like when they are closed and I didn’t even go so far as to check their hours. Other times, like yesterday, I was delighted by a totally fresh experience. At first from outside it’s hard to say what you are looking at. The windows in-line with the building signage are totally covered up with more signage. The front door is to the left. Once inside it’s a shockingly simple setup. An open kitchen with a pickup counter sits at the back. To the right is a bare bones seating area with a few different types of tables, high and low-tops. A small counter towards the back of that area has a few basic items like napkins and plastic utensils. To your immediate left from the entrance are 3 touch screens for placing orders (you can also use their app to order for pickup or delivery). It’s honestly as if a shared Ghost Kitchen started offering dine in.

The ordering process was very smooth. I found the touch screens (iPad Pros, I think) responsive and the ordering app to be well designed, uncluttered and with a nice photo of every single item I looked through. It took me a moment of poking around to realize what “trucks” were available here. The first menu lumps a bunch of the most popular items from all the businesses together. Other menus organize the options for beverages, kids, vegan and vegetarian. Finally, each entity has their own menus. You can choose from: Sushiritto (Japanese), Nash & Proper (chicken), Senor Sisig (Filipino / Asian fusion), The Melt (burgers), Curry Up Now (Indian, burritos), Garden of Eat’n (healthy, salads, sandwiches) and Humphry Slocombe (ice cream). I’ve heard of a few of these before, most notably Nash & Proper, Curry Up Now and Garden of Eat’n (the last of which I visited back in 2016 and still has a location across from the Galleria). I was very excited to see Nash & Proper here. They are one of a few trucks I will go out of my way to try and visit when they are up here. Below is my favorite photo of their “Sammich”, their signature Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich.

Now that I’ve downloaded and looked around the app I see that this is one of a small handful of locations. All the others are in the Bay Area and have mostly the same options for “trucks” with each store seemingly having one or two unique to it.

Nash & Proper was calling to me loudly. I fought those calls off and checked out nearly everything available before the Tosilog Burrito caught my eye and I added to to the visual cart/bag/whatever. This is from Senor Sisig and consists of Filipino Sweet Pork, adobo garlic rice, fresh tomatoes and a fried egg. Served with a side of peppered vinegar. (Additional Eggs can be added). This was $13.50 + $1.75 to add a fried egg, which I did. The configuration options for this were kind of funny. First off the spice levels you choose from are No Spice, Mild, Medium, Spicy, Hella Spicy & Hella Hella Spicy. After the egg selection screen is a screen that just says “No Tomato” and has a checkbox for it. Tomatoes are sort of a love/hate thing for me so I went ahead and ticked the box. The last screen has a handful of extras you can add: Beans, Shredded Cheese, Guacamole, Sour Cream, Pico de Gallo, Adobo Rice, Cilantro Cream Sauce and Lettuce. I left all those alone, added a can of soda [$2] and checked out.

Checking out was simple with tap-to-pay on the credit card machine. You enter your name, which then shows up on a screen above the kitchen with an estimated wait time. You can also email yourself a receipt and enter your phone number for order updates.

The vast majority of customers seemed to be taking out. Most of the dine-in crowd were utilizing the outdoor seating since the weather was insanely beautiful. My order was ready in about 10 minutes and the manager, whom I spoke to briefly after ordering, actually brought it out to me (well we met about half way as I didn’t expect that). I grabbed a couple napkins (excellent, substantial and large napkins by the way, they were surprisingly noteworthy) and got to work.

What can I say other than this was a tasty burrito. It was constructed expertly and everything inside was perfectly distributed so I got a bit of everything in just about every bite. As noted in the description this came with a little cup of peppered vinegar. I cautiously took a whiff of it and wasn’t sure I would like it. It was straight up intense vinegar. Carefully, I poured a small amount into the burrito and took a bite and was pleasantly surprised. The strong vinegar flavor had melted away into the burrito and just served to enhance all the existing ingredients. I ended up using all of it by the end!

This morning, after playing video games instead of hitting the gym, I decided I would return for Nash & Proper for lunch. Little did I know that when I would get there I’d change my mind at the last second and order from Sushiritto instead. The Sumo Crunch sounded interesting and the photo was just sucking me in (Shrimp Tempura, Surimi Crab, Cucumbers, Red Tempura Flakes, and Sriracha Aioli rolled with Ginger Guac, Super-Premium Koshihikari Rice, and Proprietary Nori) [$14].

I had a decent view of the area that was making Sushiritto items. They have this crazy automated rice machine that spits out perfectly formed rice sheets ready to be rolled up. I would love to get a closer look at how the hell that thing works on the inside (Science Channel, let’s get together on a mini “How It’s Made” with stuff like this!)

My order was ready once again in about 10 minutes. This was a bit messy and slightly less crunchy than the name implied, though quite a visually interesting item with the red tempura flakes. The nori was fairly easy to bite through, although I wonder how well it would hold up if you had it delivered or were taking it to go. It did seem to get slightly chewier as I got to the end.

Overall I was really quite pleased with this place and it’s concept. These businesses all have something interesting to check out and it’s nice that you can get them all in the same order. A couple of thoughts I had on how they could make this even better:

  1. Shrink some of the items and sides down or offer different sizes, so you can try more variety in one visit without having leftovers or spending a small fortune.
  2. Liven up the dine-in option some more, it’s incredibly basic – amounting to the indoor equivalent of picnic tables and little else. Serve up some local beers!
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#277: Bonsai Japanese Cuisine

12PM, 5/14/2022

Today I headed to Cirby & Sunrise to check out Bonsai for lunch. I’ve been driving by Bonsai nearly daily since it opened in mid 2019 and always wondered what it was like inside. Previously this was Moe’s, a Chipotle-like fast food spot. Bonsai has converted the make-line, where you once worked your way down as your burrito got built, to a sushi counter. Although no-one was sitting there, the chairs and soy sauce were there and ready to go. The rest of the space definitely had a paint job to mute down some of the bright yellow-painted walls. Much of the rest, including the booth seating remained mostly the same.

I was greeted right away upon stepping inside and beckoned to a booth near the center of the restaurant. I was handed a nice looking bound menu and started to go through it to see what I would be ordering. The inside was more worse for wear with the thin plastic sleeves coming apart in places, but it did the job. My server came by to introduce himself, drop off a glass of water, and take my drink order. Having just made it to the back page where the beer was I hastily picked a large Sapporo before flipping back to confirm my other choices before he returned.

Bonsai’s offerings are pretty on par with the general sushi-focused restaurants we have in the area. Sushi, bento boxes, rolls, ramen, etc. Check out the menu below, as it appeared during this visit.

Once I had ordered I had the pleasant surprise of a complimentary edamame delivered. It’s been a while. I thought most places stopped doing this. At the very least, the spots I frequent have long stopped this practice. They were a nice, cool and refreshing snack to work on for a few minutes until my food started coming out.

I had started with their Wakame Seaweed Salad (Marinated seaweed salad/lettuce)[$6]. This is something I’ve been ordering a lot lately wherever I see it. If miso soup is my winter appetizer, this is certainly my summer appetizer. This was very nice and came with a little Lemmon wedge that I squeezed over top which brightened up the flavor a bit.

I was only a few bites into the salad when my 2nd app arrived, the Sun Shine (4pc salmon wrapped with crab meat and fish eggs)[$9]. First off I will say that I really enjoyed this. The description gave me a very different impression of what I would receive though. Instead of 4 separate pieces of salmon wrapped inside crab, two bite-sized clumps of rice were wrapped by two pieces of salmon each and topped with a slightly smaller ball of crab meat and thinly sliced avocado with the roe perched up top. I’ve always wondered if there was any money to be made in a menu-consulting gig.

Right around when I was polishing off the last of the Sun Shine my roll was delivered. I had picked out the Spicy Rainbow Roll🌶 (spicy tuna and tempura shrimp with avocado and assorted fish)[$13]. I love how this is presented on a long and thin dish with every piece carefully arranged in a row and topped with a thin slice of fresh, crisp jalapeño. This roll had a little bit of everything I was craving. Plenty of fish, tempura shrimp at the center of every bite, the aforementioned crisp jalapeño, and a tiny little dollop of a spicy sauce to top off every single piece. There was plenty of sauce on the platter around it if you wanted it, with a bit over top each bite to start you off. When I had finished this I was delighted by the lingering heat that was left on my tongue. This had an appreciable amount of heat to it without distracting from the rest.

I went in to this with virtually non-existent expectations and came out very satisfied. It may lack a nicer atmosphere but the food and service were both on point and the prices felt fair. Solid 4/5 here.

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