Dining News: Calibrate Your Tastes Buds Via Reviews of Capital Dime


With so many reviews of Capital Dime published within days of each other, this gives readers the rare chance to figure out which reviewers they agree with. And instead of having to compare an entire restaurant experience, you can actually just do it with a few dishes that reviewers have coincidentally reviewed.

Note that I'm not saying one is right and one is wrong. Every critic's entitled to their own opinion. Like a movie or TV reviewer, you just get to figure out which one you agree with. Also, it's possible that the restaurant's inconsistent in serving a great dish one night and serving the same dish poorly the next. But still, I think this is a valuable exercise.

(Critics are color coded for convenience.)

On Capital Dime's watermelon salad:

"The watermelon salad with shrimp was outstanding — it showed finesse, elegance, a range of subtle flavors." - Sac Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson

"I know Yelpers have been orgasmically excited over the watermelon-and-shrimp salad. Not sure why. The watermelon’s gloppy texture and soft edges indicated it had likely been cut the day before. And the bonito flakes didn’t provide the saltiness needed for balance, and the mozzarella was lost. This lack of salt and a lack of acidity left us wanting feta and lime juice for a classic watermelon salad." - Sac News & Review's Garrett McCord

On Capital Dime's pastrami:

"The pastrami sliders are just ordinary, possibly because ours were served with nothing but a bun." - Sac Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson

"I found the house-smoked pastrami to be by and far the best pastrami I’ve ever had in this city. It’s intensely smoky and delightful." - Sac News & Review's Garrett McCord

On Capital Dime's Spinach Dip:

"Standout menu items included a rustic, better-than-mom’s spinach and artichoke dip, which left a subtle, lingering heat on the palate." - Sac Mag's Kira O'Donnell

"While early online reviews raved about the dip, our whole party thought the dish was unremarkable. While it had an unusual amount of spinach and artichoke, because it was covered in cheese, it was impossible to determine how fresh/local it was. We also understand that real estate costs are high in that building, but our group thought a fairer price for that dip was in the $7.50 range, not the $10 range, and come with more toast." - Cowtown Eats

Read the entire articles in the Sac Bee, Sac News & Review, Sac Mag and Cowtown Eats.

More News:

A magical night with food: Dining at Enotria, then cooking into wee hours at Kru - One of the reasons Billy Ngo, the owner and chef of Kru, is such a compelling part of the local restaurant scene is because he’s always looking for new ways to get better. He and a few friends dropped $2,600 at Meadowood in St. Helena to get a front-and-center look at Christopher Kostow’s 3-star Michelin food at the special $500-per-person chef’s table. And this past Monday, Ngo was on hand at Enotria to eat and gather intel during the restaurant’s monthly guest chef series — this time it was Michelin two-star chef Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco. By all accounts, the dinner was a tremendous success, with Enotria executive chef Pajo Bruich holding his own with this major talent from the big city. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

6th Annual Midtown Cocktail Week - I’ve got three words for you Sacramento: Midtown Cocktail Week. That’s right, next week marks the start of five full days filled with craft creations and specialty concoctions from some of Sacramento’s most talented mixologists and bartenders. Starting Wednesday 8/21 and continuing through Sunday 8/25, Midtown will be buzzing with an array of events dedicated to its cocktail scene. In its 6th year, Midtown Cocktail Week is no small event.  In fact, it is one of the contributing factors to Sacramento being recognized as one of the country’s hottest cocktail destinations, in addition to Shady Lady and Pour House also being named among the Top 55 Bourbon Bars in the US. Jake Ferguson in Sac Foodies.

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Dining News: Kru Continues to Receive Accolades


Kru is probably the restaurant that I eat at the most frequently, and it is my favorite restaurant that a normal person can afford to eat at without taking a second mortgage on their house. In fact, I ate there Monday night, the third time I've eaten there this year. (ProTip - When you eat there, you can sign up for their birthday club where they'll send you a $15 off coupon on your Big Day that you can use within 5 days. We used that coupon on Monday evening.)

I've written about my love for chef Billy Ngo's restaurant extensively, including recommending eating off their specials menu exclusively and the Sunshine Roll. I chose to have my birthday meal there last year, where I was treated to an Omakase meal (where you tell the chef how much you want to spend and he creates a meal for you), and when I was on a foie gras binge before it became illegal in California, I loved the shaved, frozen foie gras on scallop nigiri. I even had my wedding rehearsal dinner at Chef Billy's now defunct Red Lotus.

Sac Mag's praised their sushi in August 2012 and December 2012, and an employee at rival sushi restaurants Nishiki and Mikuni praised the restaurant in Sac Press.

Sac News & Review even called it the "Best restaurant for amazement and adventure" in September 2012.

Now, the Sac Bee's restaurant critic takes his turn raving about Kru, located at 25th & J streets.

If you show up at Kru on a Sunday or Monday, you're apt to rub elbows with some of the finest chefs in town. They come to pay respect to Buu "Billy" Ngo, the 32-year-old, Chinese-born chef-owner who just happens to be doing the most interesting and dynamic Japanese food around.

These chefs watch this chef do his thing. On a recent weekday for lunch, I spotted chef Pajo Bruich of Enotria with Matthew Accarino, executive chef at the Michelin one-star Italian restaurant SPQR in San Francisco, and the latest participant in Enotria's guest-chef series. Also at Kru that day were Randall Selland and his wife, Nancy Zimmer (The Kitchen, Ella and Selland's Market-Cafe)...

This is the focal point of the Kru experience – the mix of tradition and innovation, the sure-handed technique, the beautifully clean flavors, the teamwork. Whether you sit at the sushi bar or order small-plate or main dishes from the kitchen, you'll encounter food brimming with creativity, finesse, artistry and flavor. Be sure to try the heirloom tomato salad while in season, the smoked duck breast, the pork belly entree with slow-poached egg, the tri-tip salad and the watermelon salad. Our favorite roll at the moment is the Sactown, but feel free to sit back and let Ngo and company create a sushi surprise. Desserts are fun and tasty, though their large portions can be overwhelming and the emphasis on deep-frying can eventually be a turn-off.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee.

If you're still not sure about the place, they have a great happy hour too.

More News:

Shannin Stein leaves Feeding Crane Farms to take position at Broderick - Shannin Stein, a leader in the local food movement in Sacramento, has left her position as general manager at Feeding Crane Farms to become the G.M. at Broderick Roadhouse in West Sacramento...Stein is coming on board just as Broderick is trying to make a transition to more "casual fine dining" with a farm-to-fork inspired menu, said co-owner Chris Jarosz. The restaurant plans to turn an empty lot on its land into an urban farm "in the shadow of the city." Jared Goyette on Sac Press.

Traditional Thai Made Modern - After getting settled in cozy downtown Davis for more than two years, restaurant owner, T, is ready to take on the big city. Coming from a successful Thai restaurant in a college town, the Thai Canteen has opened a second location on the block of 16th and O in downtown Sacramento. The owners, T, his sister and her boyfriend are excited to feed the city with traditional Thai food but with a modern twist. Amy Serna on Submerge Mag.

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Eat It!: Specials Menu at Kru


Eat It! is a semi-regular feature where I recommend great bites in Sacramento-area restaurants.

Here's the recipe for a dynamite meal. Head to Kru on J St., sit at the sushi bar and just order off the specials board. Don't look at the regular menu. Ignore the (gasp!) happy hour menu.

I did this over the weekend and was treated to a wonderful, delicious and creative meal.

Continue reading "Eat It!: Specials Menu at Kru" »

Dining News: Sac News & Review's Year in Food


It's that time of year when publications look back at the year that was. Today, we look at Sac News & Review's:

After a few years of feeling like the dining scene was, understandably, in a bit of a holding pattern because of the wrenching recession, I now feel like it’s going almost too fast to keep up.

Some of the big changes have occurred in no, not the newly branded stretch of K Street called “The Kay,” but in an area near the Safeway located on 19th Street. Let’s call it the “Silver Horse District.”

Ramen House Ryujin (1831 S Street) recently took over for a spot that previously housed a generic Greek place and then a generic Mexican eatery—don’t you love it when a local restaurant replaces a chain, (which also happened when Firestone Public House trumped California Pizza Kitchen downtown)? While I steadfastly refuse to participate in the Shoki Ramen House vs. Ryujin debate, the latter is already a packed addition to the neighborhood.

Right across the street, big changes are also happening at Bows & Arrows (1815 19th Street), with the departure of its much-loved Fat Face cafe helmed by Jaymes Luu and the advent of Bows Bistro, with chef Gabriel Nokes. Nokes has expanded his successful Sunday brunch menu to include creative sandwiches, more salads and soups, and late-night snacks such as chicken tacos and a veggie and pickle plate with vegan dressing.

Read the entire wrap up in Sac News & Review.

More News:

First-Rate Sushi (and More) at Midtown's Kru - There’s no shortage of places in which we can enjoy sushi in Sacramento. From the rollicking, fun-focused Mikuni restaurants to more mellow, quiet neighborhood establishments like midtown’s Ju Hachi, there’s a great array of choices. But when I want to get serious about sushi, I head to Kru on J Street. Kru owner and sushi chef Billy Ngo, an artisan who crafts thoughtful, inspired cuisine, is considered to be a “chef’s chef” – one whose fare is sought out (and appreciated) by his colleagues on their nights off. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

Maranello to ring in 2013 -- and 3 years in business -- with special New Year's Eve menu - Maranello, like most other restaurants of its caliber, is busy with hosting holiday-related events. But what makes Maranello a little different is that the casual/fine dining restaurant in Fair Oaks is also celebrating its third anniversary. That's right - Maranello actually opened on New Year's Eve, an incredible, unpredictable and potentially wacky test for any new business. Maranello pulled through, blossomed slowly but surely in the months after and has settled in as a rising star in the restaurant game, thanks in large part to the excellent cooking and menu design of executive chef Gabriel Glasier. The intensely enterprising and highly skilled Glasier is a chef's chef, and even though he is somewhat hidden away in a corner of the suburbs, his work should be appreciated as playing a leading role on the local/regional culinary scene. Congratulations to owners Joe and Gayle Hensler, along with the entire restaurant staff, on the 3-year milestone. Maranello is at 8928 Sunset Ave., Fair Oaks. (916) 241-9365. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Continue reading "Dining News: Sac News & Review's Year in Food" »

Dining Deals: Kru, Paul Martin's American Bistro


Longtime readers of Cowtown Eats know I love Kru. I love chef/owner Billy Ngo's creativity and friendlieness. There's no cullinary feast and show as good as the one at his sushi bar for under $100. I'm not the only one saying this. He was just featured in Sac News & Review's Best Of issue.

So when I can eat there half off, I jump at the chance.

More Deals:

Looking for more deals like this? Check out the Cowtown Eats guide to saving 50 percent at good restaurants.

Daily Dining News: Sac News & Review's Best of Sac


Every year, Sac News & Review polls their readers for their annual best of list. In past years, it's been heavily slanted toward chain restaurants. But recently, with a large number of independent restaurants flourishing in our city, the tide has turned. Here are a couple of the restaurant-related winners:

See the complete reader's choice list in Sac News & Review.

More News:

Best chef for Sacto’s new culinary wave: Michael Thiemann of Ella Dining Room & Bar - Say it five times and fast: “The chef chatted while chowing on cioppino.” Apparently, this is easier done than said, at least for Michael Thiemann, who called SN&R this past Thursday while also experimenting with a new fish stew. The Sacramento native said he’s busier than ever—but it’s not a handful, or mouthful, at least yet. Nick Miller in Sac News & Review.

Best restaurant for amazement and adventure: Chef Billy Ngo's Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine - The French Laundry’s Thomas Keller once wrote that as a chef, “you’ve got to make something that pleases you and hope that other people feel the same way.” This is one of those sayings that sounds so obvious, but is seldom practiced. Which is why it’s so exciting to walk into Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine restaurant and catch Billy Ngo helming the sushi bar: You just know he’s got a few surprises back there that he can’t wait to share. Nick Miller in Sac News & Review.

Continue reading "Daily Dining News: Sac News & Review's Best of Sac" »

Daily Dining News: Food Truck Roundup Tonight Downtown

SactoMoFo and its rival Foodmob have quietly been organizing midweek food truck meet ups. Usually, they take place in the suburbs - Elk Grove, Roseville, etc. Today, they'll be downtown, reports Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

If you have a hankering for some food truck fare, 16 mobile food vendors will be set up on Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Cesar Chavez Park. Vendors include: Heavenly Dog, Wicked 'Wich, OMG Burger, The Pizza Company, El Matador Mobile Mex, Mama Kim on the Go and many more. For those who have a taste for fashion, the Gypsy Mobile Boutique will also be selling clothes and accessories for the ladies.

This roundup is organized by Foodmob, which is the events wing of the California Mobile Food Association. The Foodmob folks have been a key proponent of language drafted between local food trucks and restaurateurs that are expected to be heard at City Hall, and could result in ordinance changes related to food trucks.

Read the entire story in the Sac Bee or a separate story in Sac Press.

More News:

Midtown's Kru: Thrill Your Tastebuds - Respected for its avant-garde Japanese cuisine, Kru offers its customers a creative, out-of-the-box menu that’s sure to excite. I visited recently and had a knockout lunch that included a plateful of Hamachi tuna carpaccio, topped with thin slices of jalapeno chilis and enlivened with a brisk, palate-cleansing ponzu sauce; an intriguing age-dashi tofu (lightly fried cubes of tempura in a pool of warm tempura sauce); and the plump “Cindy” roll, bursting with tuna and crab. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

Lei's Kitchen: East meets West in downtown Sacramento's newest eatery - Traditional American breakfasts are served alongside authentic Chinese cuisine at Lei’s Kitchen, a new downtown restaurant on the corner of Seventh and J streets. Chef and Manager Joshua Sprowls said the restaurant aims to serve affordable food quickly, catering to the downtown breakfast, lunch and dinner crowds. Brandon Darnell in Sac Press.

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