Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

A Cow Town Boy's Big Food Adventure


hzrt8w
 Share

Recommended Posts

Even though it is the capital city of California, Sacamento - a modern metropolitan - is teased as a "cow town". Mind you, the real estate prices of this cow town are catching up with, or in some cases have surpassed those in the San Francisco/San Jose Bay Area. A 2500 sq ft, 3BR house - with no view and next to an abandoned railroad track - can ask for US $750,000. (Tongue sticking out) :blink:

Sacramento is known as "The Second Town" by the old Chinese immigrants, second to San Francisco. This is where I live. While there are many Chinese restaurants in town, the real, authentically good ones are very far and between. It may be considered as pretty good for some (e.g. my in-laws), but to me they always seem subpar to those in San Francisco, San Jose, and recently Fremont, Millbrae and Daly City.

I would like to share some of my Chinese food dining experiences.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeung City Seafood Restaurant

Address: 4940 Freeport Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95822

Phone: (916) 736-3131

It is one of the nearby Chinese restaurants that we frequent. They serve mostly Cantonese and some Peking/Sichuan dishes. A bit of a mix.

Here's what we had tonight:

gallery_19795_1755_27222.jpg

First, the waitress brought over a complimentary "house soup" (Lo Fall Tong) [Cantonese]. Tonight: pork neck bone, chicken feet, peanut and Fun Got.

Simple. Delicious.

gallery_19795_1755_29963.jpg

Tepee: This is for you! :smile: This is the Hong Kongers' rendition of the Malaysian-origin Char Quay Teow. Note that they use curry power, shrimp, sliced BBQ pork, scallions, onions, red/green bell pepper, bean sprouts and egg strips.

gallery_19795_1755_23986.jpg

A house specialty dish: Chicken with shredded ginger and scallions. Gang Chung Bah Wong Gai [Cantonese]. Hot oil is poured on top, followed by a drip of light soy sauce. With an extra dish of grated ginger/scallions. They are selling this dish for only US $4.95. I don't know how they can maintain profitability (but I am shamelessly taking advantage of it...). :smile:

gallery_19795_1755_8599.jpg

It is customary for these restaurants to give away complimentary sweet dessert soup. Tonight, we had Ma Tai Lo [Cantonese] - waterchestnuts with egg drop sweet dessert soup.

This dinner for two only costs US$9.95 + tax.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

gallery_19795_1755_29963.jpg

Tepee:  This is for you!  :smile:    This is the Hong Kongers' rendition of the Malaysian-origin Char Quay Teow.  Note that they use curry power, shrimp, sliced BBQ pork, scallions, onions, red/green bell pepper, bean sprouts and egg strips.

Sheesh...this site doesn't allow strikethrough. So long as it's worded "This is the Hong Kongers' Char Quay Teow", I'm good, you're good. Pls lose the Msian link.

That meal was really value for US$, eh?

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As my less refined friends would say, for under ten bucks, that meal is "ho l*n dai". :smile:

Free soup and free dessert, don't you just love HK-style restaurants?

I think I can go for that HK-style CKT. I can imagine the taste...just like Singapore Noodles, except it's kway teow. Yeah, I can go for some of that.

hzrt8w, I like all the food you've been posting. Keep them coming.

Wish I could post some food pictures too but my imagegullet account is filled to capacity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sacramento is known as "The Second Town" by the old Chinese immigrants, second to San Francisco. 

Growing up in LA, my folks would call always San Francisco dai fau, or "big city." They don't do it as much anymore because their friends who immigrated more recently would have no idea what they are talking about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sheesh...this site doesn't allow strikethrough. So long as it's worded "This is the Hong Kongers' Char Quay Teow", I'm good, you're good. Pls lose the Msian link.

That meal was really value for US$, eh?

Yes, Maam!!! You guys are *extremely serious* about your CKT.

As for prices, it is quite a value in the US standard. To give you some perspectives: Take a look at some of the threads that mentioned restaurants in San Diego, San Francisco, etc.. (non-Chinese). Just the appertizer alone can be around US $7 to $10. Dessert: $3 to $6. Entres: $20 to $30 to even $40 depending on the restaurant class and type of food. Spending US $30 to $50 per head for dinner is the norm and not exception. Of course you can dine at fast food. A big Mac meal (hamburger, french fries, soda) at McDonald's can be over US$5.

In US Chinese restaurants: take a Kung Pao Chicken entry as an example. In Sacramento and a few other places, they are typically selling at US$7 to $8. In places like San Francisco, Los Angeles where competition is fierce because of high Chinese concentrations, the prices can be as low as US $5. In other nice coastal towns such as San Diego and Santa Barbara, the prices can be as high as US $10 - $12.

I think US $9.95 for a sit-down meal, dinner for two, with soup and dessert is a steal. Not as low as Malaysian prices, of course. But very good for US standard.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As my less refined friends would say, for under ten bucks, that meal is...

Free soup and free dessert, don't you just love HK-style restaurants?

Watch it, laksa! There are ladies on board! :smile:

There are even "better" deals in San Francisco. US $3.88 an entry - from a selected list. That's the lowest I have seen. The going-competitive rate is about US $5.00 to $5.50 per entry. Complimentary desserts are a given. Complimentary soup... some offers it, some doesn't.

Opportunity permitting, I will take some pictures of those diners/food in SF in my next trip.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Growing up in LA, my folks would call always San Francisco dai fau, or "big city." They don't do it as much anymore because their friends who immigrated more recently would have no idea what they are talking about.

Los Angeles is populated more with recent immigrants (since the 70's), who may not be familiar with the term. For those Chinese immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area, most of them know dai fau ("big city") is San Francisco and yee fau ("second city") is Sacramento, and saam fau ("third city") is Stockton. These rankings were quoted from the historical development (movements) of Chinese immigrants in the new world back in the gold rush days.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

hzrt --- thanks for the warning! They say the Chinese can eat with their eyes, and so this Da Bi Zi is doing just that!

Did that broth in the house soup taste as good as it looks? I can almost taste it!

The curry dish looks lust like my Singapore Noodles without the Noodles. Looks like a nice dish to make.

Keep your pictures coming! I can take it!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

TP, don't be alarmed by all that talk about restaurant prices; most Americans aren't regularly spending $50/person for dinner (as per the truism: the majority in almost every country are at least relatively poor; plus, some of the non-poor are very frugal), though it isn't difficult to spend that much and more if you want to.

Laksa, what'd you say?

hzrt8w, keep it coming. :smile:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did that broth in the house soup taste as good as it looks?  I can almost taste it!

Yes it is! I wouldn't trade it for those that they sell at $4.95 a bowl (wonton soup, egg drop soup, etc.) Pork neck bones and some kind of vegetables (ours was fun got [Cantonese] - don't know the English name (help! someone please help!), simmered for probably a good 4-5 hours.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

TP, don't be alarmed by all that talk about restaurant prices; most Americans aren't regularly spending $50/person for dinner.....

I agree with Pan. Sorry if that scared you Tepee. The typical US dine-out price is around US$15 to $25 per head. At Denny's (one of the chains here, you can find them everywhere), you can order a dinner entry from US $8 to $10. But if you order drinks (e.g. beer/wine), appertizers, desserts and all that, they will add up.

Because most Chinese restaurants offer dishes for only US $6 to $9 an entry, some Americans consider going to Chinese restaurants to dine as a "cheap date". The recent uprise of Chinese restaurant chains such as Panda Inn, PF Chang's and Fat's seem to want to break out of that mode.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you'll allow me a few moments to wander around my thoughts...

Eating out in Malaysia is something one almost takes for granted. Malaysians don't think twice about sitting down at a coffee shop to a freshly cooked breakfast or lunch. Mostly because it can be as economical to eat out as it is to cook at home, especially if you're single, or a couple dining out.

After moving here, I have to adapt a little. I couldn't sit down at a coffee shop for a breakfast of noodles or roti canai before work, for example. There are simply no places to do that where I live. You could go to a diner for breakfast, but the food doesn't come out "fast", and it's easy to spend 6-7 bucks per person plus tip. Alternatives exist, like a take-out breakfast sandwich or bagel, for maybe a coupla bucks, and that's popular with Americans, who eat it on the go or in the car. Americans eat a lot of food "on the run".

As for lunch, standard fare from the company cafeteria runs about $5-$6, for a salad, or a subway sandwich, or some very unexciting protein+starch+veg combo. Offerings at fast food chains or the local deli aren't much more attractive. The only bright spot is the local Indian grocery take-out lunch special for $4.50, but I can't eat Indian food every day.

Eating out can be as expensive or economical as you make it. I find that it's usually cheaper to bring home take-out from a particular restaurant than to dine-in there. A large single-topping pizza is enough to feed 4-5 people and costs around $12.

Ordering 3 dishes from the Chinese takeout costs around $15, but thanks to the enormous American-size portions, that's enough to feed 5 people easily, and you'd still have leftovers.

Dining out at the national family restaurant chains like Applebee's/Chili's/Olive Garden/Outback Steakhouse/Red Lobster can cost up to $25 per head like what hzrt8w described. Denny's and IHOP are a little bit cheaper. And you can always find those "buy one dinner get one 50% off" coupons everywhere. You will find a myriad of chain family restaurants in the States, but they're all probably owned by just one or two giant parent companies. If you eat at enough of them, nobody can fault you for thinking the same guy created all the menus! :smile:

If you're lucky to live near a large Chinese population such as the ones in NYC or SF or LA, your options for inexpensive and tasty food will be much better. Noodle dishes like CKT are $5. Half a Hanainese chicken I believe goes for around $7. Moving up the scale, it's not difficult to find live seafood and lots of dishes that bear a decent semblance to what you find "back home", taste-wise if not price-wise. I think I paid $18 per pound for live shrimp not too long ago at a restaurant in Flushing. A dim sum lunch for 3 came to $60 including tips.

When the occasion calls for it, and when you're feeling spendy, high-end restaurants in major cities abound. Here, you're looking at $100-200 per person. You fork over a lot of money for tiny morsels of very, very good looking food. Careful where you devote your attention or your date might start to feel jealous. :smile: Admittedly, some of that stuff can be pretty tasty. If you're partial to things like foie gras, air-freighted toro, or perigord truffles, the high-end restaurants are pretty much the only places in town to indulge your predilections.

While I certainly won't refuse the top drawer grub -- heaven forfend should one deny one's Mrs. the stuff -- it won't kill me to go without. But, every now and then, I regress to an Early Man-carnivore state and start craving steak. A good prime beef porterhouse for two in NYC will set you back about $80. That's meat only, exclusive of sides, appetizers or drinks. So it's a good thing I don't crave it that often.

Spontaneous, nary-a-second-thought dining out is what I miss most about living in Malaysia. That's so difficult for me to do here, for a lack of choices, and the distance I have to travel to get the food I like.

As for the prices, sure, they're higher than what you find in Malaysia, but with some adjustments to dining habits, they're manageable. On balance, food prices don't seem so horrendous because some things are cheaper here.

If you make apples to apples comparisons, some Malaysian meals can get pricy too. I can remember spending RM40 per person on dingy-JB-kopitiam bak kut teh (but it was very good), and something like RM80 per kg for farm-raised Soon Hock? Albeit live from the tank.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did that broth in the house soup taste as good as it looks?  I can almost taste it!

Yes it is! I wouldn't trade it for those that they sell at $4.95 a bowl (wonton soup, egg drop soup, etc.) Pork neck bones and some kind of vegetables (ours was fun got [Cantonese] - don't know the English name (help! someone please help!), simmered for probably a good 4-5 hours.

hzrt8w, are you talking about 粉葛? If so, that's kudzu (Pueraria lobata). Was there leaf or root in the soup?

jo-mel, you live in the NY/NJ area, right? That house soup looks a lot like the one I enjoyed during a recent dinner at Noodle Chu in Parsippany. Can't beat the Cantonese when it comes to good pork bone soup.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hzrt8w, are you talking about 粉葛?  If so, that's kudzu (Pueraria lobata).  Was there leaf or root in the soup?

Yes, Laksa. That's exactly right! Thank you!

It is the root part. (I didn't know what the plant looks like until today.) There was no root in the soup that night. The waitress just didn't scoop us any. My wife doesn't care to eat it. But I like it (well... it's okay... I usually just chew on a piece or 2, no more). A bit tough. I sometimes need to spit out the fiber. Unsightly...

Here is the best image of the pueraria lobata root I could find via Google:

http://www.hear.org/starr/hiplants/images/..._var_lobata.htm

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

After moving here, I have to adapt a little.  I couldn't sit down at a coffee shop for a breakfast of noodles or roti canai before work, for example.

I feel the same way having moved from Hong Kong many years ago. When I go back to visit, I can eat out all the time because it is afforable to. We can get a hot breakfast (congee, noodles, ham and egg, french toast, etc.) for $2 US each with drinks included. You can't get coffee and bagel here (at most places) for that price. There is one place in San Francisco, Denny's Cafe (not the chain) that comes close to the price. They have 3 breakfast specials daily for $2.35, including coffee or hot tea. It also offers afternoon tea specials for the same price.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is one place in San Francisco, Denny's Cafe (not the chain) that comes close to the price. They have 3 breakfast specials daily for $2.35, including coffee or hot tea. It also offers afternoon tea specials for the same price.

Would you have the address of this Denny's Cafe, Anna? Tks.

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the Chinese forum, I have posted my experience of a Chinese "Chiu Chow" (Teochew) noodle house in the Pacific East Mall in Richmond (I-80 exit Central Ave). There are quite a few Asian restaurants inside this mall, which is anchored by a 99 Ranch Market. We had tried only 2 of them so far (we don't drive by Richmond too often). Over time, perhaps, we can try out most of them...

Here is my review and pictures for anybody who is interested:

I went to try out this small noodle house in the new shopping mall in Richmond, California (Pacific East Mall):

VH Noodle House

In Pacific East Mall (I-80 exit Central Ave)

3288 Pierce Street, #B101

Richmond, CA

(510) 527-3788

They advertise as a "Chiu Chou" (Teochew) style noodle house. We went in and ordered a few items. They tasted pretty good. Please comment if you know whether they are "Chiu Chou" (Teochew) specialties or not...

gallery_19795_1748_625.jpg

The big sign of "Pacific East Mall" in Richmond, next to I-80. Exit Central Avenue.

gallery_19795_1748_8922.jpg

Pacific East Mall, Richmond, California

gallery_19795_1748_6414.jpg

VH Noodle House inside the Pacific East Mall.

gallery_19795_1748_34734.jpg

Fried Fish Cakes. Pickled cabbage on the side. No special condiment. We just dip them with some Hoisin sauce that's on the table. The fish cakes were quite tasty. My rating: 8/10. Price: US$4.95.

gallery_19795_1748_12785.jpg

Beef Fried Rice Noodle with Satay sauce (Sa Cha sauce). I didn't like their version. It seemed a bit too plain (and not salty enough) compared to the Satay sauce that I am used to. My rating: 6/10. Price: US$8.00 (this is not on the menu. I think they charged a bit too much compared to the other chow fun dishes)

gallery_19795_1748_4831.jpg

This is the Duck Noodle Soup. The duck is "Preserved Orange Peel Duck" (Chun Pei Aup [Cantonese]). The duck meat was excellent, very fragrant, albeit a little bit too salty. My rating: 9/10. (It would have been a 10/10 if it wasn't overly salty). Price: US$5.65.

Total, lunch for two: about US$18.00 + tax.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have also posted my impression of 3 Chinese bakeries in San Francisco in the Chinese forum:

Where to buy good mooncakes in San Francisco China Town?

There were 3 bakeries mentioned in San Francisco China Town in this Mooncake thread. Last week I passed by all of them. I have taken some pictures.

Eastern Bakery

Address: 720 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108

Phone: (415) 982-5157

gallery_19795_1750_11139.jpg

They said to be the oldest bakery in China Town. I wouldn't doubt. Could use some uplift work though.

gallery_19795_1750_4778.jpg

President Clinton was here... (sorry for the glare from the glass. The best that I could do.)

gallery_19795_1750_41317.jpg

The window display at Eastern Bakery. Note that they show some real BBQ pork baos and bo lo baos at the window. The baos look pure white because they had been bleached by the sunlight over the years. :laugh: (I don't want to know how many) Last year they were showing some age-old mooncakes too. For some reason, the owner decided to change out the mooncakes this season. These are freshly wrapped. Good! Should last another five years.

No line! They are eager to please, offerring free samples to tourists. "Sorry, I am just looking... (and have enough from the window display...)"

Golden Gate Bakery

Address: 1029 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

Phone: (415) 781-2627

gallery_19795_1750_8647.jpg

I saw a wall of people lined up outside Golden Gate Bakery - at least 20-30 waiting to buy something. (Must be good!) Tourists and local Chinese mixed. On the display window, they only showed a few pieces of mooncakes. Looked pretty good. Hmmm.... I am unwilling to wait for 10-15 minutes (at least) to get my bakery goods. I am hungry... but not that hungry... I will pass this time. Perhaps in my next visit.

A A Bakery & Cafe

Address: 1068 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Phone: (415) 981-0123

gallery_19795_1750_15470.jpg

So here's my favorite bakery: AA Bakery. On Stockton Street. Oh, yeah... I know I may be biased. Whatever... My taste-bud is trained in Hong Kong. I just know what would please me. Hmmm... even a couple of tourists found their way to AA on their rental motor-tricycle!

gallery_19795_1750_1157.jpg

Display of their bakery items inside AA Bakery. Rows of mooncakes.

After elbowing with other fellow patrons (that's one thing bad about some of these shops full of local patrons - there are only crowds and no line - you have to fight for your place: just like the motherland, they would say), I got my order in.

Double yolk lotus seed paste mooncakes... The moon is just half-full tonight... 7 more days!

P.S.: Double yolk lotus seed paste mooncake: Price US $5.00 for a single. (Usually a tin contains 4)

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The mooncakes bought from AA Bakery look like this:

gallery_19795_1770_25020.jpg

The double yolk lotus seed paste mooncake from AA Bakery in San Francisco.

gallery_19795_1770_20963.jpg

I have a quarter of the cake tonight. The lotus seed paste filling is smooth, fragrant, not overly sweet. It is done very well, much better than some other ones I had. I like this classic filling over other new ones.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

New Hong Kong Wok Restaurant

Address: 5019 Freeport Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95822

Phone: (916) 454-2828

Have you ever been to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, where the atmosphere is so-so, the waiters/waitresses ignore you most of the time, but you tolerate it and keep going back just because the food is so darn good? New Hong Kong Wok is one of those.

Well... it is not that bad. I have exaggerated a little. NHKW is located at a very convenient location: Free Port Blvd and about Fruitridge, very close to the I-5 freeway in Sacramento. The waiters/waitresses may not ignore you intentionally but they are usually so darn busy during rush meal hours. You just have to flag them for attentions. As for the atmosphere... let me just say that this is not the kind of restaurants that you would make a wedding proposal or to bring your best customers.

The food served is authentic Cantonese style seafood, clay pots and stir-fried. Their Cantonese BBQ items are good, and jook (congee), fried noodles, wonton items are excellent. Patronship is over 90% Chinese from what I have observed. Prices are very reasonable.

gallery_19795_1788_69.jpg

New Hong Kong Work Restaurant, the outside.

gallery_19795_1788_10719.jpg

New Hong Kong Work Restaurant, the inside.

Only a few weeks ago, the restaurant went through remodelling. They have new furniture and new carpet. They used to hang the names of the "specials" written on a piece of paper (Chinese only) on the wall all around the restaurant. Since the remodelling, they have abandoned that practice. The new look is more tidy.

gallery_19795_1788_16086.jpg

A bowl of wonton noodle soup, Hong Kong style.

Their wontons are one of the bests in California. Believe me. I know my wontons. I have had wontons for over 40 years and had tasted in over hundreds of restaurants. Their wontons are hugh! A little bit too big actually. I do wish thay they make the wontons smaller in size but use more shrimp than pork. You can taste the meaty minced pork but barely notice the shrimp. The seasoning and the broth are just right, I could taste the characteristics of the dried fish and MSG. Dejah: this is our kind of wonton noodle soup. :raz:

My rating: 9/10. It would have been 10/10 if they make the wontons smaller and use more shrimp. Price: US$3.75

gallery_19795_1788_9563.jpg

A plate of Hong Konger's rendition of Singapore Style Fried Rice Vermicelli

This dish is very popular in Hong Kong. It's our rendition of the Singapore style fried rice vermicelli, with curry powder, shrimp, BBQ pork slices, onions, bell peppers, scallions, bean sprouts and strips of fried eggs. Tasted great!

My rating: 10/10. Price: US$5.00

gallery_19795_1788_26387.jpg

Oyster, roast pork, tofu in a clay pot (Cantonese: Fal Nam San Ho Bo)

Let's see why we were here tonight... NHKW is best for its clay pot dishes and Cantonese seafood. Tonight we ordered the oyster, roast pork and tofu in a clay pot. The pot was steaming hot when it came out, with all ingredients still bubbling. The oysters were lightly breaded and fried first but were very succulent. The roast pork was firm and flavorful. The tofu was the best: the skin was deep fried, but the core was soft as silk. This is the best clay pot dish I had in California for a while.

My rating: 11/10. :smile: Price: US$7.50

gallery_19795_1788_4433.jpg

Red Bean Dessert Soup

NHKW offers complimentary house soup (Lo Fall Tong) to patrons who order seafood and stir-fried entrees only. :sad: So, no complimentary soup for us tonight.

They did bring out the complimentary, run-of-the-mill red bean dessert soup after the meal. Tasted very good.

Total price tag, dinner for two: US$16.25 + tax

Overall: Great food and great value

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...