AM11: Teriyaki Land

Today I decided to try out Teriyaki Land on Auburn at Walnut, near Les Schwab.  I’ve never thought much of this place, other than being curious that they seem to serve fish & chips in addition to teriyaki and sushi.  Like most sushi places, they advertise 50% off all rolls.  This is such an annoying gimmick, particularly since nearly everyone uses it.

Being hungry and looking forward to it earlier in the day I popped on Yelp briefly to get an idea of what I was going to see.  There aren’t many reviews but it seemed to be a very polarizing place with mostly 5 or 1 star reviews.  I skimmed the restaurant info and was taken aback by the ambiance category of “divey”.  It makes sense, yet until now I’ve never thought to use that word to describe anything but a bar.

I walked in at 5 and the place was deserted, save for a guy standing outside that followed me in who I was half expecting to ask me for money, but instead he was grabbing his order to go (way to jump-to-judgement, Sean!).  A woman was waiting by the counter and greeted me immediately, waiting with a pen and paper to take my order.  Felt very much like Anchor’s Fish & Chips so far.  I had to go over the menu for a minute or two first.  Wanting to sample both sides of the menu, I ordered the Teriyaki Land Special Teriyaki Combo (One choice of teriyaki chicken, beef or pork w/ rice, noodle, salad & soda)[$8.99] and also the Pink Lady roll from the Deep Fried Special Rolls section (d.f., spicy tuna, avocado, crab, tobiko, eel sauce)[$12.50 $6.25 all rolls are half off, remember?].

I took a seat in the quiet dining room.  The woman and, presumably, her husband worked to prepare my order, making the only sound aside from some traffic noise coming in through a propped open side door.  There was no music, so I listened to a podcast and snapped a couple photos to pass the 10 minute or so wait.

She called out the items of my order to announce that they were ready.  I retrieved the bento box with teriyaki combo and a tray with my sushi roll, it’s pieces arranged in a neat circle.  She mentioned to the utensils to the right and I grabbed a fork and some chopsticks.  She asked if I wanted sesame seeds and then sprinkled some on with my go ahead.

Everything was piping hot, including the roll since it was deep fried.  The roll came with the usual wasabi/ginger, but also included a little dish of a slightly spicy, probably mayo-based sauce.  I really liked that it came on the side so I could use as little or as much as I wanted, which I did experiment with from piece to piece.  This roll was really good.  It was perfectly crisp on the outside and the spicy tuna really came through nicely, even though there didn’t seem to be a whole lot in it.  The avocado was actually the biggest percentage of the center and was nice and ripe.

The teriyaki was pretty great, particularly the noodles it came with.  They were flavorful, hot and even had a bunch of dark chicken meat bits mixed in.  The white meat chicken was very tender and moist.  The salad was really the only thing that I wasn’t super enthused about.  It wasn’t bad, just not anything special.  Lettuce was fresh and crisp, yet the dressing was just kind of boring Italian.

The service was minimal, but the woman seemed very nice and happy to serve.  Despite it’s shabby appearance, this place delivered.  I will definitely return for some pre-bowling dinner.

Website: None

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here

#232: Koisan (Sushi ■ Wok ■ Seafood)

Well, my plans for lunch today fell apart.  I was going to go to The Green Boheme, a raw vegan joint tucked away behind Sports Page, but apparently Saturday is the only day they are closed!  I’ll have to try again soon.  I reluctantly drove over to Koisan, a new restaurant in the cursed location that once held Tomi, Da Jung, and at least one other failed Asian/seafood buffet.  I was not excited to come here just due to the history here.  Nevertheless, I walked in a bit before 1PM.

I stepped into the entryway and was greeted after about 20 seconds of eyeing the menus set on the front counter.  I was taken in and to the exact same booth I sat at for my visit of Da Jung last time.  Not a whole lot has changed about the dining room through both Tomi & Da Jung, minus that fact that the Korean-BBQ tables are now gone.  What was the sushi bar at Da Jung has been removed and converted to a conveyer with little dishes constantly on the move.

The host showed me the menus, explained how all you can eat (AYCE) works and also told me about their special for lunch today, a bento box with a handful of different things.  It was slightly overwhelming so I took plenty of time to go over everything once he left.  It would be a few minutes until my server introduced herself and got my drink order.  So they have a full on regular menu, which also is their take-out/delivery menu, where you can order all kinds of individual Chinese dishes.  Then there’s the AYCE Lunch [$13.99] which consists of a combination of salad bar, a variety of pre-made items on the nifty little conveyor belt, and finally a menu of items that will be made to order.  Dinner is similar but with a larger menu and a bigger price [$19.99, $21.99 on Fri/Sat] to go along with it.

To be honest, I was not totally crazy about the idea of AYCA, again, mostly due to this locations past, so I skimmed over the lunch menu.  In addition to AYCE Lunch, they also had some lunch-time bento boxes where you could choose a Chinese wok item.  I eventually asked about the special once more and went with that, because it seemed like a good variety and a good value.  It was a bento box with honey walnut shrimp, broccoli chicken, rice (steamed or fried), salad, gyoza and miso soup [$10.95].  I got a soda to drink [$2.25].

Within a few minutes I had my Mr Pibb and miso soup delivered.  Both were excellent.  The Pibb was nice and strong in flavor, as was the soup which was very hot.  I had to let that cool off a bit.  I was just finishing this up when my bento box was brought out.  It was very snappy, coming just 7 minutes after the soup.

The box was a good size and had quite a bit of food in it.  I went to work.  The salad was very basic, pretty much iceberg with little shaved bits of carrot and the usual sweet/creamy dressing that sushi joints use.  It was cold, tasty and a nice way to start.  After that I jumped around.  I had chosen fried rice.  I doubt this was made to order, but it seemed more fresh than something like you’d get at a panda express or certainly any kind of buffet.  The broccoli chicken looked really boring, but to my surprise it was actually really delicious and whatever sauce it was cooked in was nice and savory.

The chicken and broccoli were both very hot.  The broccoli was cooked perfectly, not crunchy or mushy, it was just right in the vegetable Goldilocks-zone.  The gyoza was probably fried for my order as it was hot and crisp.  There didn’t seem to be any sauce for it, but I think it might have been quickly dipped in some before being plated because that saltiness was present.  It was very good.  The honey walnut shrimp was OK.  It was hot and the flavor was decent, but I didn’t find it to stand out in any way like some of the best of this dish in Roseville do (see Leo’s Kitchen or Bambu for outstanding versions of this dish).  The walnuts were not very sweet like most places have them.  Finally, the orange was incredibly ripe, juicy and sweet.  A perfect ending to a surprisingly satisfying lunch.

I definitely had my reservations coming in here but they cleared those away.  While the food was good overall, the service was even better.  The host, my main server and a couple of the other servers that I interacted with were all excellent and seemed very eager to please.  I might actually be inclined to come back and try the AYCE, both due to this initially good experience, and also because the sushi is made to order (a-la Raku Sushi), so It has some promise of being much, much better than previous businesses here.

#230: Sushi Kuma

Today I got a message from my mother asking if I knew about a new sushi place by Kohl’s, which I didn’t.  She wanted to check it out, fast forward to this evening, so she and my grandma picked me up to go for dinner.  I’ve done quite a few restaurants with very little info, often just the name of the place, but this was the first time when I didn’t even know that.

The restaurant is Sushi Kuma.  They opened just over a month ago.  This is their 2nd location.  The first is out in El Dorado Hills.  The menu is primarily sushi but they also carry some Korean-inspired dishes as well.  We arrived at about 5:15 and were just the 2nd group to be seated.  It’s very nice inside and well decorated.  I really liked the brick wall/structure up by the front doors with little plants perched on the ledges.  Everything is clean and new.

Soon, after being seated with menus, our server came by to take drink orders.  We were all in the mood for a beer, and we each ordered a different one.  They didn’t have anything on draught tonight (not sure why).  The bottle selection was light, but about what you’d expect in a sushi joint.  We soon had a Kirin, a Sapporo and a Bud Light delivered with three cold glasses.  We skimmed over the menu for a bit and had already picked out some appetizers, which we ordered when the drinks were delivered. The appetizers took about nine minutes to arrive, which gave us plenty of time to look over their long list of rolls in detail.  in the middle of digging into the appetizers we placed the main order.  To start we were enjoying the Vegetable Tempura (lightly fried assorted seasonal vegetables)[$7.50] and the BBQ Albacore (grilled albacore tuna, with green onion spicy BBQ sauce)[$12.95].  Both of these were pretty good.  The tempura had a mix of onion, sweet potato, zucchini and broccoli.  It was nice and crisp and very hot, so pretty typical tempura.  The BBQ albacore was decent.  The sauce was fairly mild, very little spice at all to be had, but it did not disappoint on flavor and it was still warm from the grill.  The fried onions that came with it were really delicious.  I find that this appetizer varies greatly from place to place and I can never remember who makes a truly awesome version.  The search continues.

There was about a 15 minute wait for our rolls.  Some of that time was passed by playing a game where we guessed if people just pulling into the parking lot were going to either Nutrishop or Wingstop next-door.  It was a pretty easy game.  We heard a bell ring from the sushi bar and our server collected the two plates and brought them over.  On them were the Dragon (Tempura shrimp, crabmeat | avocado, eel, masago | unagi sauce)[$6.95], the Yummy Yummy (Tempura shrimp, avocado, cucumber, cream cheese, crabmeat, masgo – 5pcs)[$5.95], The Las Vegas (Tempura aspragus, crabmeat, cream cheese | avocado, tuna, salmon, masago | spicy mayo sauce, unagi sauce)[$8.50] and a roll from a bulletin board of specials called the Valentine (crabmeat, cilantro, lemon, tempura shrimp | avocado, tuna, salmon, green onion, masago | spicy balsamic sauce)[$8.95]. The Yummy Yummy had some nori rolled up in it, which I found to be a little chewy.  This roll had the largest pieces too, so it was a bit of a mouthful to be working on for a bit.  Other than that it was a nice and mild roll.  The Dragon had the delicious and savory bbq eel along with it’s companion unagi sauce.  These drove the flavor in that roll while the shrimp added some nice crunchy texture.

I dislike cilantro with a passion, so I only had one bite of the Valentine, and I found the it to be overwhelming in it.  Both my mom and grandma really enjoyed that one though, despite that they aren’t big on spicy foods.  The spicy balsamic sauce must have not been too bad.  She did comment on a particularly spicy bite with lots of sauce on it towards the end however.  The Las Vegas was probably my favorite, just ahead of the Dragon.  This had the most going on in it with the smooth cream cheese and crunchy asparagus, avocado up top and several types of fish, not to mention the two sauces.  I should note that the sauces are not out of control here.  They are drizzled on and accent the roll rather than drowning it out, both physically and in flavor.

The service staff was very good, all were very friendly and checked on us at just the right times.  I’d definitely return and I’d like to try some of the Korean items next time.  I hope they get some more business because it was very slow while we were there.  Not a single other customer came in during our stay.  Only the group that was there before us remained when we left just after 6.

Website: [None]
(As of this posting the Facebook page is pretty bare, they only have a photo of the restaurant from outside up.  Their El Dorado Hills page is fully up and running though.)
(Scanned) Menu: Click Here