Pacific Catch

7 07 2013

If you find yourself in the Richmond district, I hope you brought a jacket. And a good mood. Because it’s undoubtedly cloudy, possibly misty, and at least 20 degrees colder than the rest of the City. Welcome to the dreary side of the City.

Teeny complimentary appetizer -- so cute!

Teeny complimentary appetizer — so cute!

They do have food over here, however — apparently people here need to eat too. There are a few names that come up time and again if you ask around for what’s good in the Richmond, and Pacific Catch is one of them. I tried it. It was good.

It was more Japanese-y than I had expected. I thought it was just a seafood place, but was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a whole section of the menu for Hawaiian Poke, sushi rolls, and rice bowls in addition to fish ‘n chips, tacos, and sandwiches. The selection looked good. I only tried a few things, but enjoyed them all such that I would return to try more.

Traditional Poke was recommended to us by our server. Very tasty!

Traditional Poke was recommended to us by our server. Very tasty!

Firecracker Salmon roll, I believe... also good.

Firecracker Salmon roll, I believe… also good.

Starter salad -- signature miso dressing is money.

Starter salad — signature miso dressing is money.

I ate these things.

I ate these things.

Pacific Catch 9th Ave on Urbanspoon





Chaya

18 02 2013

Behold: Chaya.

The awesome thing about having a food blog in SF is that it’s no longer necessary to write bad reviews of restaurants. There’s just too much good stuff here to waste time on sub-par food. Chaya is one of the best places I’ve been in a while.

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It’s mom’s birthday. More than a pony, she wants a nice meal at an upscale restaurant — preferably with a view of the water — and a fun night with her daughters. Choosing a restaurant is always difficult, but we settled on Chaya, though none of us had been there before.

Chaya is on Embarcadero across the street and a bit south from the Ferry Building. It has large windows that look directly out onto the Bay Bridge. The atmosphere is fancy but not pretentious. The menu is amazing.

Our entrance involved unexpectedly squeezing all three of us into one revolving door compartment. The hostess said she’s never seen anyone do that. Well, we’re from Hayward, so, there’s that. We should not be trusted to act normal in public. Thankfully they still served us.

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The food is French/Japanese. Weird, right? Literally everything on the menu looked amazing. They have lots of creative seafood dishes, salads, sushi, steaks, and amazing sides. Oddly, there were no mains for strict vegetarians, though there were a few appetizers, sides, and a small sushi section.

Bottles of wine were half off on Sundays, #win. We ordered a sushi roll starter to share, mom and I ordered the same cod dish for dinner, and sister ordered filet mignon. At the recommendation of the waiter, we could not resist sharing the macaroni and cheese side to share as well. There were literally no complaints about anything. It was all amazing.

San Francisco Roll: crab, shrimp (cooked), avocado, cucumber, tomato, asparagus, soy paper

San Francisco Roll: crab, shrimp (cooked), avocado, cucumber, tomato, asparagus, soy paper

Soy Glazed Local Black Cod: hijiki brown rice, tempura green beans, baby bok choy

Soy Glazed Local Black Cod: hijiki brown rice, tempura green beans, baby bok choy

Angus Filet Mignon: fingerling potatoes, creamed swiss chard, black truffle sauce

Angus Filet Mignon: fingerling potatoes, creamed swiss chard, black truffle sauce

Fontina Macaroni Cheese with white truffle oil

Fontina Macaroni Cheese with white truffle oil

Particularly ridiculously amazing was the creamed chard with the filet and the rice that came with the cod. I could have eaten an entire vat of either. Yeah, I just made something delicate and delicious sound gross. Sorry.

Dessert was chocolate croissant bread pudding for me and sis, a nice port wine for mom.

Chocolate croissant bread pudding with caramel ice cream

Chocolate croissant bread pudding with caramel ice cream

Mains are around $30 each, appetizers in the $12-$20 range. The half price bottle of wine saved us $25, and the whole endeavor was appropriately priced for the quality of the experience. Certainly not an every-week affair, but completely perfect for a special occasion. Ten stars.





Minami Sushi

11 07 2011
Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value:3/5
Times Visited: One  ♦   Will I Return?:  Sure.
___________

Three words: Japanese power ballads. I should end my review there, right? I feel like that’s enough to get anyone over to this small sushi restaurant in the Greenhouse Marketplace Shopping Center at Washington and Lewelling in San Leandro.

But let’s consider that you maybe think of running out of restaurants that boast Japanese power ballads. In that case, there’s the food.

On a Saturday night Minami has decent patronage, which is always a good sign. The menu selection is good: there is a huge appetizer list, lots of donburi bowls, sashimi plates, sushi rolls, and a huge list of gourmet sushi rolls (I love these; think deep fried sushi rolls). This is, of course, in addition to dinner selections (tempura, teriyaki, katsu), udon noodle bowls, bento boxes and dinner combinations.

The menu was almost too large for such a small place, but one thing that did strike me on their menu (since most Japanese restaurants have a similar selection) was the half-and-half dinner combso. I love being able to have a taste of everything, and I often Mr. Burns Disease* when checking out Japanese menus because I just can’t decide. This combo helped me out, and the Boyfriend and I both ordered it.

salads

Seaweed and green salad.

The half-half dinner combo includes seaweed salad, regular salad, a small bowl of udon soup and a small order (a half order, to be exact) of one of their sushi bowls. Brilliant. Not that this is wholly original, really, but it’s still nice to see a good combo available. K ordered the Spicy Donburi and I the assorted raw fish over rice (Chirashi, it’s called) for our final course; the remainder of our meals were the same.

udon

Dueling udons.

sushi bowl

Spicy tuna sushi bowl.

sashimi

Sashimi bowl.

Everything was great. I love whatever salad dressing they use at Japanese restaurants, so good. The udon was delicious and the tiny sushi bowls were yummm. K loves his spicy tuna, and this was a pretty good one (although he idealizes the one from Luna such that it’s always the basis of comparison). My sashimi was delicious and I was really struggling to finish.

dinner

Sashimi bowl and udon soup for half-half dinner combo at Minami.

Additional points were that the service was lightning quick and that Minami is next door to San Leandro’s Loard’s Ice Cream, which is a wholly different experience from my normal Castro Valley location. More on that another time.

*This is a phrase we use in our house to mean that there are too many options or things happening at once to make a decision or move forward. We verbified** a condition that has kept Mr. Burns from the Simpsons alive past any reasonable age — he has so many ailments that they are all fighting to kill him at once. See video clip below for further medical clarification.

**Case in point, I’m verbifying the word verb.

Minami Sushi on Urbanspoon





Koyomi

19 06 2011
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value:3/5
Times Visited: Twice  ♦   Will I Return?:  Yes Please
___________

New sushi place in town? I’m there. What’s different about Koyomi? Well, maybe not a whole lot. But I like it anyway.

Koyomi is located in a tiny strip mall that borders the sidewalk in Castro Valley across the street from the mini golf place. It’s got a nice big sign; you can’t miss it. And inside they’ve really made it look slick. Hardwood floors, comfy chairs, big screen tvs above the bar, and… double crown molding around the perimeter of the top of the walls. You read correctly. Double. This place is serious.

dining room

Inside Koyomi Sushi in Castro Valley.

Between the classy Frank Sinatra playing in the background and the new picture-friendly menus, I really like this place. The menu is pretty standard for a sushi place offering appetizers, sushi/sashimi, combinations, udon noodle dishes, full dinners, and a variety of sushi rolls. The service is great and the food is pretty dang good as well. The first time I came here, I enjoyed a sushi/sashimi plate that was quite good. We also shared a pan fried calamari just like the ones we enjoyed in Japan. Boyfriend enjoyed the squid immensely, but I thought it was a bit too bland and a bit too tough; it didn’t stand its ground against its Japanese counterparts.

sashimi platter

Sashimi plate from Koyomi.

squid

Pan fried squid -- no breading or deep frying here!

The second time, I ordered tempura udon, which was perfect. Boyfriend enjoyed a bowl of seafood udon both times; I think he’s set. The seafood selection in the udon was quite extensive and very yummy.

udon

Udon and tempura behind.

udon

Seafood udon ruling with an iron bowl.

Both times we were at Koyomi the servers were very friendly and the service was exemplary (read: we always had refills on our water). Also, the server (owner?) indicated that they acquire much of their produce from the local farmer’s market (she didn’t specify if it was the Hayward one or the CV one), which is nice to know — yeay for local stuff! And already boasting a 4-star average with 23 Yelp reviews, I’d say Koyomi is coming along nicely. The only thing they need now is their own website… which I think they’re working on. Yeay for sushi and yeay for Koyomi!





Kokyo Sushi Buffet — Revisited

5 01 2011
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  Two* ♦   Will I Return?:  For Sure
___________

Since Kokyo Sushi Buffet does not have a website, my previously posted Kokyo Sushi Buffet review has been receiving a lot of traffic, no doubt from potential customers. As my offer to create cheap websites for local restaurants has gone thus far unanswered, I feel obligated to update readers and google searchers about my findings regarding Kokyo Sushi Buffet.

A second visit to Kokyo has yielded some information about their lunch buffet. My previous post was regarding the dinner buffet only and the lunch is slightly different.

Much of the same food is present for the lunch buffet and in generally the same format. Notably, there is no sashimi at the lunch, as there is with dinner. There is sushi (fish on rice), and sushi rolls, but not just the fish by itself (sashimi). Also, there are no crab legs at either the hot seafood bar or the salad bar, which there were for dinner. As I’ve only gone once to each of these, I’m not sure if this is always true, but these changes seem in line with the relative costs of the lunch versus dinner. Prices are reviewed again below:

  • Lunch $8.95 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday
  • Dinner $14.95 4-9:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday
  • Sunday and Major Holidays all day $14.95
  • Children ages 3-11 Lunch $2.50-$6.50 ($0.50 additional every year), under 3 free
  • Children ages 3-11 Dinner $3.50-$8.70 ($0.65 additional every year), under 3 free
  • Senior Citizens age 60 or above receive 15% off
  • Soft Drinks $1.25 with free refills
  • Buffet To-Go (excludes sashimi) $4.25/lb for Lunch, $5.95/lb for Dinner
  • Catering trays also available, menu at front counter of restaurant

Additionally, I would like to further comment on the soup available at their buffet. I have now tried both the miso and the hot and sour and both were extremely bad. I love this place and I think it’s a great value if you love sushi. But I have no idea what they’re doing wrong with their soups. Both were inedible to me and I thought that was very unfortunate.

hot and sour soup

Hot and sour soup from Kokyo Sushi Buffet in Hayward

Also, the awesome donuts that I raved about last time weren’t as good the second time around; the magic was gone. I think last time the batch was fresh out of the oven and was far better for it. But, I ate one again this time anyway as they are still good.

For the full picture run-down and descriptions of all the food at the buffet stations, see my original post.

Have you gone to Kokyo Sushi Buffet? Tell me what you thought of it with a comment below! I’d love to hear how everyone’s liking (or not liking) Hayward’s latest addition. Also, if you have any other questions, feel free to ask with a comment, I try to respond to every comment within a couple days. Thanks!

*As this is a “revisited” post subsequent to a previous post about the same restaurant, any changes in my ratings at the top of the post are shown in bold. Otherwise, they remain the same as before.

Kokyo Sushi Buffet on Urbanspoon





Kokyo Sushi Buffet

5 12 2010
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  One  ♦   Will I Return?:  For Sure
___________

KokyoThat’s right, this is the new sushi buffet place in Hayward! If you’re a Hayward-ite, you’ve driven by this numerous times; it’s the corner spot on the 2nd floor of the new shops surrounding the movie theater on B Street. And if you’re not in Hayward often, now you know that we have something mildly awesome — buffet sushi!

Let’s talk logistics. How does a sushi buffet work? I was skeptical because if there aren’t any patrons, the stuff sits there. And that’s no good with any food, let alone raw fishies. We went on a Sunday night and it was packed by the time we left (we were there early), and it’s been pretty full every time I’ve driven by. So, that will keep the food fresh right there, as long as it’s fresh to begin with.

seating

Inside the seating area of Kyoko

Which brings up the second concern. Is the food fresh? The buffet is pretty cheap — $15 per person for dinner — which didn’t give me a whole lot of faith in the quality. I mean, sashimi is expensive and here I can eat all I want. How are they making money? I think I figured it out. The sashimi is good — not Genghix good, but way better than Safeway* — but I don’t think everyone is eating it. About half of the buffet is standard Chinese style hot dishes — chow mein, fried rice, broccoli beef, egg rolls, sweet and sour shrimp — which is considerably cheaper to make and more filling to eat. Add a bunch of cheap, fatty, greasy foods and, voilà, you’re back on budget with your sushi buffet.

buffet

"Chinese food" area of the buffet

Not to say that the food there is bad…everyone loves fatty and greasy. And if you’re not in the mood, that’s what the sushi is for. Boyfriend and I consumed a fair amount of sashimi (raw fish by itself) and a few types of sushi (fish on a ball of rice) along with a few other things (baked scallops, edamame, fried coconut shrimp, asparagus). We thought it was great!

Let’s go over the layout. There are 5 or so main stations of food:

  • Appetizers: edamame, seaweed salad, other stuff
  • Salad: green salad mix, crab legs, shrimp, hard boiled eggs, dressing, misc fixings
  • Sashimi: tuna, salmon, butter fish, seared ahi, a few others
  • Sushi: plain sushi (raw fish on rice ball), fancy rolls (California rolls with extra stuff inside and/or on top), and deep fried rolls (they sort of taste like donuts!)
  • Seafood: more crab legs, coconut fried shrimp, baked scallops, oysters, clams, grilled salmon
  • Chinese food: the stuff I mentioned before (chow mein, fried rice, broc beef, sweet and sour whatever, etc.)
  • Fruit & Dessert: variety of fruits (bananas, apples, melon, oranges, etc.), pudding, tapioca, jell-o, soft serve, donuts, cakes, tarts, etc.
    japanese appetizers

    Appetizer area

    deep fried sushi

    Deep fried sushi rolls taste like donuts

sushi

Sushi/sashimi area

seafood

Part of the seafood area: oysters and crab legs

fruit buffet

Fruit area

I love buffets because I love choosing things. Pictures of our plates are below. Summary of foods eaten: the edamame was good, though not warm (darn!); seaweed salad was really good; sashimi was great (especially considering the price); I didn’t love the sushi rolls I tried, so stuck with the sashimi; baked scallops were really just baked seafood and were ok; the veggies in the Chinese area were fine, didn’t try much else.

Sushi

Plate 'o fish, yummmm

sushi plates

I had 3 plates, bf had 4...notice a pattern?

And as for the best and the worst? The miso soup was the worst I’ve ever had, which was surprising. The boxed kind from Trader Joe’s is better, seriously. But, the donuts in the dessert area (sadly, this is where I focused at the sushi place) were amazing. I usually don’t even go for dessert at an Asian place (sorry to stereotype, but it’s true), but these were heavenly.

donuts

Best donut-things ever!

Overall, I think this place was nice. It was strange to get a view of Hayward from a 2nd story commercial building (see below), I couldn’t think of a time this has ever happened before. The patrons were a step up from the Hometown Buffet, the atmosphere was nice, the spread was exciting, and the sushi was definitely good. I recommend this place if you like sushi/sashimi and/or Chinese food!

view of hayward

View down B Street from a window seat at Kyoko

*Yes, sometimes I get the sushi packs at Safeway for lunch at work. They make them fresh, there’s high turn over and I’ve never felt ill afterward. The sushi they use just isn’t the best; it’s not terribly tasty.





Genghix

24 09 2010
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 5/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  Three   ♦   Will I Return?:  Wish I could go every night.
___________

Genghix front doorDo you remember the Genghis Khan Kitchen in Castro Valley? Just near the corner of Redwood Road and CVB in the Lucky’s (then Albertson’s, then Lucky’s again) shopping center? Yeah, I do too. I had a bad feeling about that place for some reason, though I never went. Three years ago the owners of Genghis apparently decided they needed a change. Enter Genghix, the bad-ass older brother of Genghis*.

Genghix has a newly decorated interior and some rad, solid wood front doors that make it look sort of like a dungeon. But it’s not; it’s awesome. The interior has that sort of mood lighting that goes with polished concrete floors and dark wood furniture. It’s a bit Elephant Bar, sans all the safari equipment and foliage. It’s posh, it’s fun; it’s almost a magical transport from Castro Valley to the City.

Genghix interior

The inside of Genghix in Castro Valley

Their menu has graduated from whatever Asian buffet it used to be to “Asian Fusion”, a phrase with so many interpretations nowadays. What they mean at Genghix is Chinese, Japanese, and Thai (more generally referred to on their site as Southeast Asian and Japanese) and all sorts of awesome combos of these cuisines. When I see a menu selection as large as that at Genghix, I often cringe. Is all this stuff really good? Is it fresh? I haven’t tried everything at Genghix by any means, but what I have had was good.

We’ve gone three times in the course of a week and a half. Two of those times were sequential nights. That’s how much I liked it. To quote Black Rob, “Like Whoa“**.

Despite the huge variety on the menu, I have quite a love for Japanese food (as you may know), and hence this has been exclusively what I’ve ordered to date. Our first trip we ordered a Genghix Roll (fried shrimp, lobster, avocado, tobiko), Double Salmon Roll (salmon inside and salmon on top), and an order of salmon Nigiri sushi. Everything was fabulous. The salmon was tasty and generously proportioned on the Nigiri. And the deep fried roll, well, can you really go wrong there?

Japanese Food

Our food from visit #1 to Genghix in Castro Valley

The service on that first visit was also exceptional. The waiter was friendly, helpful, attentive, and he smiled. Like, not just at me in a creepy way, but at us in a nice way. He refilled our waters constantly. He answered our questions. It was wonderful.

Trip number two we went big with our Restaurant.com gift certificate ($50 minimum purchase, we can do it!). Crab won tons, an 18 piece sashimi plate (butter fish, salmon, tuna, albacore), a Tiger Roll (fried shrimp, salmon), and a Magic Cube (chocolate covered white and milk chocolate mousse with a cherry center) for dessert. This meal was truly heavenly. The crab won tons were excellent (but they were deep fried, so that’s not so difficult). But the sashimi melted in my mouth. Literally. Butter fish—which I’ve never before had—was so succulent and savory that I actually ended up saving it for last. The salmon, usually my all-time favorite, came in a paltry third as the albacore was the most flavorful I’ve ever tasted. Even the dessert (good dessert at a Japanese place?) was wonderfully delicious and unique. It was the kind of meal you don’t want to end.

Japanese Food

Our food from visit #2 to Genghix

And so we went the night right after as well. We had to bring friends. The service was a bit more “eh” this time, but the food was just as good in my opinion. I ordered a 12 piece sashimi (soooo good) and other orders at the table consisted of three oysters, hot and sour soup, two more fancy sushi rolls, a cucumber avocado roll and another sashimi plate. Except for one forgotten thing by the waiter (though he didn’t admit that he forgot and stated that it was “on the way”, perhaps the most irritating part of that transaction), third time’s a charm for sure.

Japanese Food

Our food from visit #3 to Genghix

Needless to say, I love this place. Love, love, love. I want to eat there every night. Maybe someday I’ll get around to trying some of their other Asian dishes (Garlic Shrimp, Sweet and Sour Fish, Orange Scallops, Wok Tossed Garlic String Beans, etc.)…or maybe I’ll just order sashimi until I pop. But even then, I bet they’d clean me up quickly and efficiently and not charge me any extra for the mess.

*This is merely a metaphor, not historical fact.

**Yeah, I totally said that.

Genghix Asian Fusion on Urbanspoon








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