Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Zagat Sacramento

The Zagat Survey is coming to Sacramento:

You can complete the survey and receive a free copy of the resulting 2009 America's Top Restaurants guide when it is published @

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vientiane Restaurant

Vientiane Restaurant
1001 Jefferson Blvd, 500
West Sacramento, CA 95691
(916) 373-1556

I met up with a few other foodies from the Sacramento Food Group. It was nice to meet other people who love food as much as I do. We ordered a bunch of dishes family style, so let's get to it.

Papaya salad #9: Green papaya, hot chili pepper, garlic, tomatoes, fish sauce and lime. This was a great start to the meal. I think it hit almost every sensation; sweetness, coolness, a crunch and fresh freshness from the papaya, hot and spicy from the chili pepper, tartness and acidity from the tomatoes, acidity from the lime and saltiness and a little earthiness from the fish sauce. It was cool and refreshing, but hot an spicy at the same time. I have never encountered a dish quite like this. Highly recommended!

Stuffed chicken wings #4: Chicken wings stuffed with ground chicken, black pepper, silver noodle, onions served with fresh cucumber sauce

This was akin to a Laotian buffalo wing minus the heat. That would be later. It was like a tasty sausage with the chicken skin. The noodles mixed in with the ground chicken meat provided an interesting texture.

Lao sausage # 51: Ground pork with garlic, lemongrass, hot chili pepper, green onions and kaffir lime leaves.

The sausage was nicely seared on the outside. The main difference between this and other sausage was the coarseness of the ingredients. The pork was coarsely ground and the green onion was still in chunks. There was some kind culinary magic going on. The combination of lemongrass, garlic and Kaffir lime leaves created an interesting background flavor, something like vanilla or Chinese five spice. We interrogated the owner and she would not give us the secret ingredient. Overall, the sausage was very tasty and was not too heavy.

Red Curry with beef #76: Red chili curry, coconut milk, bamboo shoots, bell pepper and basil.

This was a good curry with layers of flavor; the lemongrass was front and center in this curry and the beef was tender. This was another solid dish.

Sweet sticky rice with mango #85:

The sticky rice was, I think sweetened with coconut milk, warm and soft. This provided a nice contrast to the mango that was cool, firm and not so sweet.

We also had these other dishes. They were good, but I would try the aforementioned dishes above before trying these.

Squid salad # 11: Squid with chili paste, ginger, red onions, fresh cilantro and lime.

Larb #14: Chopped pork, tossed with hot chili pepper, cilantro, green onions and lime

Nam Vahn #89 (tapioca jelly and a variety of fruits drenched with coconut milk.)

The ingredient used are similar to Vietnamese and Thai, but the combinations have different flavors. Overall, I highly recommend this place this is now my favorite Asian restaurant in Sacramento.

Vientiane on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Shoki Ramen House

2675 24th St
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 454-2411

After Temple Coffee we decided to eat here for lunch. This is literally someone’s old house. It is very cozy. We both ordered the Chashu ramen with some shitaki mushrooms.

The ramen noodles were good, but the broth was just perfect. They say the sign of a good cook is one who can make a great soup. The broth had a nice velvety consistency, from what I am assuming is gelatin from the long simmer of bones, as well as the layers of vegetables. You can tell this broth is not from a powder or a can. Usually I do not drink broth in any kind of noodle soup, but my partner was like, “So you like the broth eh? You usually never drink the broth."

The pork was tender with just enough fat to add flavor and the mushrooms added nice contrast of texture and flavor.

Shoki Ramen House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Vientiane Post-poned

Yes, there was post about the Vientiane restaurant, but that was still a draft. I am not really sure how that escaped out of the draft box. I'll repost it after I load the pictures of the yummy food.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Temple Coffee

1014 10th Street (between J and K)
Sacramento, California 95814

I am a coffee drinker, but have never been much of an espresso drinker. When Temple Coffee held an espresso tasting, we took this chance to learn more about the different espressos. I had never been here before, but when I walked into this café I was pleasantly surprised. It had a lot of wood structure and a general warmness. It was more apparent that Starbucks and the like were sterile corporate buildings that lacked character. Temple coffee had a nice laid back atmosphere.

The espresso tasting was held in the basement and there was about 12 other people there. Sean, the owner of the café, conducted the class. The tasting went from more complex and astringent and went to less complex and smoother espresso. I learned a lot about crema, the dark reddish-brown foam on top, the different drying processes and how they affect the flavor, how temperature affects the flavor and the coffee tasting wheel.

Sean was very willing to answer any questions and share his knowledge. The class was worth the cost and time spent. I learned a lot, but not a converted espresso drinker. I do not think I ever will be because I would need a pastry to offset the intenseness of the espresso.

These are two of the espressos I remember tasting.

Guatemala Pea Berry

Ethiopian Limu