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Because Missing Out Is Never Fun!

Dave Wong's

I ate my food too fast to take photos of it.

Dave Wong's
2828 W. March Lane
Stockton, CA

Dagnabbit, this place is tasty!  I remember growing up across the street from the restaurant when it was on Pershing Avenue, and my Grandma would get take-out from the DW deli next door every Friday afternoon.  My Grandpa was so lucky.

After celebrating a great Mothers Day dinner here, I held my 30th birthday luncheon at the new March Lane location.  Yes, I like to throw parties for myself.

The food was IMPECCABLE, the wait staff was on point, and the atmosphere was just gorgeous.  The staff go above and beyond from party planning to execution.

Mid-range pricing for superior ingredients.  Think hand-battered Lemon Chicken and Fried Prawns and the tastiest Garlic Chicken you'll shove into your gullet.  And Foil Chicken.  My God, the Foil Chicken!!!

Huong Lan Sandwiches

This Bahn Mi was worth the body check.

Huong Lan Sandwiches
6930 65th Street, Suite 109
Sacramento, CA

One of my New Year resolutions is to LET THINGS GO.  My lunch trip to Huong Lan allowed me to practice this concept twice: first, when I had to battle a parking lot full of Asian drivers; and second, when an old lady rudely threw her entire body into me just to get a closer look at the menu above the cashier.

It was all worth it.

A few minutes later, and only $3 lighter, I was in my car, driving down Stockton Boulevard back to my office while making some very unladylike attempts to devour a #7 (Grilled Pork Banh Mi) with one hand on the steering wheel.  Delicious.

Now that I think about it, I should probably stop criticizing Asian drivers...

Golden Star Cafe

Weiners over rice.  Viva America!

Golden Star Cafe
2121 S. El Dorado Street
Stockton, CA
Golden Star Cafe on Urbanspoon

Few things in life disappoint me more than the moment I realize I've been missing out on something great...for decades!

A former coworker discovered Golden Star Cafe one day and, to his wife's dismay, ended up patronizing the establishment more often than he'd like to admit.  And rightfully so; your own efforts to ignore the silent beckoning of the ancient CHOP SUEY sign outside will prove futile.  Come to satisfy your curiosity of what may lie inside.  Stay to witness at least two generations prepping, cooking, serving, bussing tables and greeting most patrons by their first names as they enter the front doors. Especially charming is the husband/owner who displays genuine care and concern for each and every one of his customers.

GSC has been in business for a long time, and it looks like they've likely preserved many of the original fixtures: The booths look old.  The bar and barstools look old.  Hell, the menus are probably older than I am.  But most importantly, customers will tell you that the menu items have not changed much over the years.  Alongside lists of traditional soups and foo youngs is Weiners over Rice, a dish my coworker and I vowed to try on our next visit.

Ungodly portions are served here.  I watched as mound after mound of noodles, vegetables and fried rice made their ways to their respective tables.  My own Long Beans and Beef with Oyster Sauce over Rice was enough for lunch and two subsequent meals.  Crisp beans and tender, silky beef slices topped steamed rice with just enough sauce to complement, not drown, all of the ingredients.  At under $8, it was a real value.

What a gem of a restaurant!  Old school charm, first class service, top notch food...a rarity among today's establishments.  Keep up the good work, Golden Star Cafe.  I can't wait to go back!

Asian Pearl 2009

Pace yourself.

Asian Pearl 2009
6821 Stockton Boulevard #165
Sacramento, CA
Asian Pearl 2009 on Urbanspoon

We arrived at 9:33am and watched as a small crowd gathered at the entrance.  At 10:00, we pounced.

We were probably the 6th or 7th table seated.  Within a minute, a steady stream of carts full of piping-hot steamers descended upon us.  Lids were lifted.  Heads nodded.  Consumption began.

And continued for the next 90 minutes.

Pork with Jellyfish.  Roast Duck.  Baked AND Steamed Pork Buns. Shrimp Siu Mai.  Shrimp Rolls.  Shrimp and Rice Balls.  Ginger Pork Dumplings.  Eggplant with Shrimp.  Etc., etc., etc.  Did I mention shrimp?

Seriously, we ate for 90 minutes.  The variety and quality was quite excellent, and the service was on par...until 45 minutes in.

Allow me clarify.  The dining room is HUGE.  I mean, from the outside the restaurant looks to be the size of a grocery store.  Inside, there is an endless sea of tables.  After 15 minutes, we kinda thought, "What a waste of space!"  30 minutes later, the entire restaurant was PACKED.  I was too busy scarfing to see where these people had come from.

Another 15 minutes later, chaos began to ensue.

As usual, we arrived when you're supposed to arrive...right when the restaurant opens!  Those who arrived closer to 11am were visibly impatient, often barking at servers that the carts either hadn't come by or bypassed them completely.

What do you expect in a room of 400?  Do you really expect the same service as if there were only 40 diners?  Come on, now.

All in all, quite the culinary experience, and a great way to spend the first sunny Sunday morning in a long, long time.

Mama's Pho & Sandwiches

Who cares if it's 100 degrees outside?  I want this NOW.

Mama's Pho & Sandwiches
8014 North Lower Sacramento Road
Stockton, CA
Mama's Pho & Sandwhiches on Urbanspoon

Mama's Pho took my Banh Mi virginity.

I ordered the Grilled Pork Banh Mi, expecting to call it a day after that. However, after glancing at the $2.50 price tag, I decided on a SMALL bowl of Beef Ball Pho as backup.  I mean, I couldn't possibly be satisfied on $2.50, right?  Right?


The sandwich arrived, chock full of pork, jalapenos, and a bunch of other things I didn't spend long enough bothering to identify before shoving that baguette into my gullet.  Mmmmmmm....another bite....mmmmm!!  Oh, snap!  There's my bowl of soup.


$4.95 gets you a rather decent size bowl of pho and all the accoutrements you can handle.  Hearty meatballs in a rich broth, covered with bean sprouts, were calling my name.  I figured I'd work on the lake of soup, then get back to the sandwich.

You can imagine how that panned out.  Doggy bag, please!

I took most of the sandwich home, devoured it for dinner, then pondered why I waited over three decades to try Vietnamese food for the first time.  What a loser.

Mifune Restaurant

Objects in this photo are larger than
they appear!

Mifune Restaurant
1737 Post Street
San Francisco, CA
Mifune on Urbanspoon

I should have seen the warning signs.

The word "Deluxe" in its title.

The $12.99 price tag.

Identical serving vessels being shuttled to families of four.

Yet, I went right ahead and ordered the Deluxe Nabe all for myself – even when the menu clearly stated it would be served in an iron pot.  Really?  An iron pot?  I felt compelled to order it for that reason alone.

I was given two soup bowls and two soup spoons.  Ha!  If I weren't such a lady, I would have dived right into the pot itself, head first.

Having two bowls actually came in handy.  Contents of one bowl would cool off while contents of the other were being methodically shoveled into my mouth.

Super generous serving of udon, cooked perfectly...no gluey mess here.  Shrimp.  Scallops.  White mystery fish.  Imitation crab.  Shitake mushrooms, other exotic mushrooms, and various greens.  All topped with a single shrimp tempura.


The next morning I weighed two pounds heavier.  It had to be the sodium in the soy sauce, right?  Right...

Hisui Japanese Restaurant

I'll take seconds...of everything!

Hisui Japanese Restaurant
1350 E. Monte Vista Avenue
Vacaville, CA
Hisui Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Oh, Hisui.  The food!  The showmanship!  The onion volcanos!

I love watching people cook; and when that cooking involves a percussion section in the form of butcher knives and garlic salt dispensers, all the better.

My pal and I shared the big ol' Chef's Choice which included miso soup, salad, perfectly rare filet mignon, scallops, shrimp, calamari and lobster, along with vegetables and steamed rice.  For dessert, we were offered the choice of chocolate, strawberry or green tea ice cream.  The entire meal was devoured as we sat around a flat-top grill, witnessing the chef masterfully prepare dinner for the other half-dozen diners sitting across from us.

Gracious hostess, super-attentive server, and all the culinary entertainment you can handle.  A definite winner in Vacaville.

Crazy Sushi

The best excuse for post-meal ice cream.
Crazy Sushi
7419 Laguna Boulevard
Elk Grove, CA

Dude: I FORCE myself to eat the side salad with chopsticks...otherwise, the process would not be lady-like.  Trust me.  I don't know what they put in that salad dressing, but I want to bury my face in it.  Every time.

For twenty bucks, two people can gorge themselves.  The quality is great, the menu is expansive, the wait staff hustles, and the sushi chefs are extremely friendly and accommodating.

I order the Spicy Day every time.  Sure, I leave with my mouth on fire after a one-two punch from both jalapenos and Sriracha, but it's always worth the pain and suffering.

The sushi has been 50% off since their grand opening years ago.  Why go anywhere else?

Ichiban Japanese Restaurant

Yee-haw!  Seaweed!

Ichiban Japanese Restaurant
2011 S. Broadway
Santa Maria, CA
Ichiban Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

As expected, I devoured some good ol' BBQ the moment I landed in Santa Maria.  But, after two days of leftovers, I was ready for something new.  A little online research pointed me to a nondescript Japanese restaurant in a strip mall in the land of steakhouses and taquerias.

Ravenous from a day of sightseeing, I was ready to chow down; after a brief encounter with the menu, I chose the Jalapeno Roll and Chicken Katsu Combination.  The size of other diners' meals seemed average, so I figured this would be "just enough" food.

The Jalapeno Roll arrived, freshly tempura-fried and topped with roe.  I gulped it down too quickly to even remember its ingredients. Then, my entree arrived.

Um, I guess I overlooked the word "Platter" that followed the words "Chicken Katsu Combination" on the menu.

It was a beauty of a dish, complete with a side salad topped with sweet miso dressing, deep fried gyoza, shrimp and vegetable tempura, teriyaki chicken skewer, and, of course, a healthy portion of chicken katsu.  Breaded in panko and fried to a golden brown, it was juicy, tender and perfect when dunked into the accompanying katsu sauce.

I got a few stares since my plates took up more than half of the table.  Luckily, I have no shame.  I worked my way in circles around the platter, and each bite was better than the last.

I left full, happy and completely satisfied with the gracious service provided.  Sushi in Santa Maria?  Proof you should never rule anything out while you're traveling.

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