Tako Korean BBQ

Dining News: New Vampire Penguin Downtown to Open on Saturday


Vampire Penguin, the Elk Grove dessert destination that's started to develop a cult following, will open its new K street location this weekend, reports the Capitol Morning Report.

Co-owner Paolo San Luis says his plan is to open for business either Friday or Saturday...Prices range from $3-7. "We see the potential of what K Street could be," San Luis said. "And with the excitement of the new arena we're happy to be part of the boom that's coming in the next two years."

Since the Morning Report posted, the restaurant specified that its soft opening will be on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The K Street Location is one of four planned or current locations. In addition to the original Elk Grove location, the college towns of Davis and Berkeley will have their own stores by the end of January.

Read the entire article in the Capitol Morning Report.

I went in early October and found the desserts interesting. I'll probably have to experiment to figure out which flavor combinations I like best, but I'll definitely be visiting this place during the hot summer months.


Sac Bee restaurant critic Blair Anthony Robertson isn't as big a fan, though.

Vampire Penguin's newest location is at 907 K Street, and can be found online at

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Samuel Horne's Tavern: Home Away from Home - Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. Most of you readers will recognize that line from the theme song to Cheers, and Samuel Horne’s Tavern, although I’d never been before, has that same welcoming, cozy and low-key vibe as the famed sitcom Boston bar. Niki Kangas in Submerge Mag.

Drop by Drop: After 81 years, microdistillers are gaining ground against Prohibition-era laws - In a makeshift distillery tucked  into a Rancho Cordova business park, Greg Baughman mashes and ferments batches of his Wheel House American Dry Gin using a still he designed and built himself, a gleaming vision of stainless steel and copper. But actually sell you a bottle? For that he needs to hire a middleman due to regulatory hurdles dating back to Prohibition. Navigating liquor regulations is just one of the challenges facing California’s craft distillers. But pioneers like Baughman and other microdistillers in the region are betting that smart marketing — and consumers’ thirst for local, well-made products — will give them a shot at sustainable revenue. Michelle Locke in Comstocks Mag.

Plum Cafe is now Garden to Grill and wants to be the next Chipotle - The Plum Cafe & Bakery is now Garden to Grill. The vegan and often gluten-free restaurant got a new sign and fresh coat of green paint late last week, but the menu and staff have remained the same. Why bother? General manager Monet Levalley said it was partially to emphasize that the business is a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner—it’s not just a cafe with pastries and coffee. It was also partially to distance Garden to Grill from its previous identity, Sugar Plum Vegan. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Danielle’s Creperie in Sacramento’s Arden Town Center - When the weather outside is frightful, our most dependable chill-chasers have been (and still are) the French onion soup at Danielle’s Creperie and the clam chowder at Jamie’s Broadway Grille. Two keys that separate a great dish from a good one are consistency and top-quality ingredients, and the soup and the chowder have both. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

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Dining News: Opening of New Bacon & Butter Delayed Until 'Early August'

Bacon & Butter closed in mid-May in preparation for their move to 51st & Broadway. After several delays, they're not targeting an early August opening, they announced today to their e-mail list.

Although we had hoped our new home in the beautiful Tahoe Park neighborhood of Sacramento would be ready by Father's Day Weekend, the building just wasn't ready yet.

As you may know, when dealing with active construction and city permits, sometimes things don't always go according to schedule :) We want our restaurant to be a positive, long term contribution to our neighborhood, and to get things just right, we're looking at about another month before we're ready to open our doors.

When we have a firm reopening date, we'll be sure to announce it here and on our Facebook page, but we're aiming for early August.

I've followed enough restaurant openings that there always seem to be permit, construction or other issues that seem to take longer than expected. As a fan of Bacon & Butter, though, I'm sure it'll be worth the wait so we'll be able to enjoy them for not just brunch but dinner too.

Bacon & Butter will be located at 5913 Broadway, and can be found online at http://baconandbuttersac.com/.

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East Sacramento cheese shop opens up new culinary frontiers - The prepared food is morphing as the owners learn what works for their customers, but there’s only so much they can do. “There’s no gas range, no grill, no fryers. We’re limited on what we can serve,” Andrew says. Those limitations don’t seem to be hindering them, however. Next month they’ll likely gain their beer and wine license. Simultaneously, permits may clear allowing their outdoor seating to expand, which is good, since inside there’s only a window counter with two seats inside the shop. Andrea Thompson in Sac Biz Journal.

Wine and beer coming to midtown Starbucks? - Sometime soon, at a Starbucks near the Capitol, you might be able to order an Italian sparkling wine, Sonoma chardonnay or a Napa cabernet. Baristas at the Starbucks near 16th and K streets say their store is going to be one of the select stores to take on the Starbucks Evening program and that location is currently hiring people who are over 21 for that program. Mark Anderson in Sac Biz Journal.

Hop to The Red Rabbit - Sacramento’s scorching summer days transform beautifully into balmy, comfortable, warm summer evenings—the perfect environment for outdoor dining. This week we dropped in to midtown’s The Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar to dine outside at one of the restaurant’s community tables and revel in the temperate weather. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

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Dining News: Chef Adam Pechal, Fellow Taste Contestant to Lead Kitchen at Crawdad's


Crawdad's River Cantina, the party spot next to Chevy's on the river, will soon feature food by Chef Adam Pechal and fellow ABC cooking show contestant Paul Caravelli, reports the Sac Bee's Chris Macias.

Shults, who also owns midtown’s Pour House and Vanguard 1415 at 14th and L streets, tapped Pechal for the project just as the chef was preparing to close Restaurant Thir13en. The two had talked about partnering on a project during the past year to combine Pechal’s cooking skills with Shults’ nightlife experience...

Pechal, a semifinalist contestant on ABC’s “The Taste,” will also serve as executive chef. He’ll be joined by Paul Caravelli, a fellow contestant from “The Taste” who cooked in the Chicago area during the show’s run, to help lead the kitchen.

Pechal plans to keep the seafood-centric menu at Crawdad’s but add some new twists. He hopes to work with such Sacramento-area purveyors as midtown’s Sunh Fish and Sloughouse’s Passmore Ranch to supply such ingredients as catfish, clams and calamari. Pechal will also bring his Capitol Burger, a staple of Restaurant Thir13en with house-made pickles, to Crawdad’s.

Read the entire story in the Sac Bee.

Pechal hinted that he would have a new project when Restaurant 13 closed at the end of January.

I'm hopeful that Pechal can help elevate dining on the river. Chevy's definitely has its place, but it's not something you'd call a upscale dining experience. Pearl On The River tries to fill that role, but the three times I've eaten there, I've found that it's food is good, but unremarkable. Hopefully Pechal will help make the river a year round destination.

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Plates2Go: Lunch for the cause - Part of the local St. John's Shelter Program for Women & Children, Plates2Go makes for a quick and affordable Midtown lunch option. More importantly, it gives formerly homeless mothers the opportunity to learn new skills and find jobs in the local culinary and restaurant workforce. Rachel Leibrock in Sac News & Review.

Tako Korean BBQ: A tale of two food ethnicities - Bulgogi sliders are the true hit of the menu. These are Korean-marinated steak stuffed into light bread, served with cabbage, cheese and a tangy house sauce, and my only complaint is that the cheese isn’t melted—such a touch would give the dish a bit more oomph...Tako achieves what fusion food attempts to do, though there’s plenty of room for improvement and growth. It’s what all fusion food must do. Push boundaries. Experiment. Learn from failures. Exceed past successes. Tako seems well on the way in all of this. Garrett McCord in Sac News & Review.

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Dining News: Tako Korean BBQ Expanding to Davis


Tako Korean BBQ, one of Sacramento's favorite Asian fusion restaurants, is expanding to Davis, Tako announced on its Facebook Page.

We would like to announce that we will be opening our second location in the city of Davis! Thank you to all that have eaten, tweeted, instagram'd, liked, and supported our food these past 2 years.

We will be located on the corner of G and 4th and we'll let everyone know about the grand opening soon!

Per the Davis Enterprise, the new location was scheduled to open on Saturday, Feb. 1, replacing El Mariachi.

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Der Biergarten opens as midtown's latest beer destination - Midtown has a new home for foam at Der Biergarten, the long-delayed open-air beer destination that served up its first official brews over the weekend at 24th and K streets. Local hopheads can try one of 32 draft beers and munch from a food menu of sausages, hot dogs, pretzels, salads and “Belgies”—ham sandwiches on waffles brimming with esoteric extras like mustard, cream cheese or chipotle raspberry sauce. Visitors order from a tap house and kitchen converted by owner Sean Derfield from industrial-size shipping containers, and gather at rows of communal tables or among the boisterous, streetside crowd framed by heavy redwood rails. S.T. Vanairsdale in Sactown Mag.

Worth the wait at Mother - I know what all the fuss is about at Mother: Mike Thiemann and his friends are serving vegetables like you've never really considered vegetables. They're doing it in an atmosphere that doesn't feel like any place you’ve eaten this many vegetables before. That's why there was a queue of customers at the door clogging the sidewalk in front of the 50-seat restaurant at 11:30 Friday morning, as there has been every weekday since Mother opened Jan. 20, serving vegetable-forward sandwiches, salads and entrees at the same level of quality, creativity and price-point that you might find on meatier menus around town. Ed Murrieta in Sac Biz Journal.

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Dining News: Split Decision on Capital Dime


In the last two weeks, more major publications have come out with their verdicts on Capital Dime, the most buzzed about new restaurant of the year.

First, Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag:

Standout menu items included a rustic, better-than-mom’s spinach and artichoke dip, which left a subtle, lingering heat on the palate; the curiously enticing honey-truffle chicken frites, which looked and tasted something like an upscale, adult version of chicken nuggets; and a fabulous “noodles in a green dress” dish, bathed in a creamy pesto sauce and teeming with oodles of sweet, sun-ripened cherry tomatoes and corn kernels.

Read the entire story in Sac Mag.

Second, Garrett McCord in Sac News & Review:

There’s one simple dish called clams chorizo on the menu, and it’s something you would stab your mother with a seafood fork over, should she attempt to pluck one of its delightful bivalves from your plate. Here, seared chorizo is drowned in white wine and garlic, creating a silky palomino-colored broth in which the teeniest clams ever are cooked.

The only problem with the dish was that many unopened clams made it to our table. In addition, we were provided thin, stale toast. One cannot sop up that epiphany-inducing broth with stale toast...

Yet for all the little flaws, you can see the forethought behind it. There’s obviously a meditation on how to perfect classic dishes and generate innovative recipes, and knowing when they’ve achieved nirvana. With a chef like Zonca, you know these hiccups will fade.

Read the entire review in Sac News & Review.

By reading the two reviews, it seems like Sac Mag's reviewer was a little more ebullient than Sac News & Review's. In my one meal there and anecdotal evidence from friends who have eaten there multiple times, they're still finding their bearings as a restaurant, but most are hopeful that they'll figure it out soon.

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Pastry chef Edward Martinez leaving Enotria for Tyler Florence’s El Paseo - One of Sacramento’s most prominent pastry chefs is soon leaving Sacramento for a plum job in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pajo Bruich, executive chef of Enotria, tells “Appetizers” that Edward Martinez is leaving Enotria in early September to be become a pastry chef at El Paseo, the Mill Valley restaurant run by celebrity chef Tyler Florence and rocker Sammy Hagar. Martinez will join another former Sacramentan at El Paseo: executive chef Mike Ward, who previously worked as a sous chef at Enotria and The Kitchen. Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

Preview: Midtown Cocktail Week 2013 - I’m a bad Sacramentan (that’s a word, right?). Other than the occasional Gin Daisy at Shady Lady, I know close to nothing about the local mixology culture – which is a shame considering the famed Midtown Cocktail Week (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) now in its 6th year. I’m not one to typically seek out an artisan cocktail. A glass of Jameson or 16 ounces of a Hefeweizen will usually do me just fine. But this year, with a theme that promises entertainment and events filled with tasty alcoholic treats at a reasonable price, I’ll be cashing in my MCW virginity for a seat at the show. Kelly Rathburn on Girls on the Grid.

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Dining News: BBQ Tips from Sacramento Chefs


Grilling seems like it should be easy. Light your coals on fire, add raw meat, and out comes a delicious meal. But for anybody who's tried it knows that it's not that simple. That's doubly true for anybody who's tried low and slow BBQ.

The Sac Bee recently had a great series where they interviewed great Sacramento chefs on what they do to make a successful BBQ. Here's an excerpt of the interview the Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson did with Tako Korean BBQ chef Yoon Hee Cho.

How would you prepare the meat?

For the short ribs, I buy them at the Korean grocery market. We have two different kinds of short ribs – thin slices and thick. For barbecuing outside, I usually get thin slices. If I get thick, I usually have to trim it. I usually shop at Smile Food Market (2948 Bradshaw Road, Sacramento). I call ahead and order, and they will pre-cut it for me. They also have good sticky rice.

What's the most unconventional item you like to grill?

Sometimes we like to do noodles – the Korean style noodles called japchae. It's a very popular Korean dish. It's noodles made with sweet potatoes. You boil them, then prepare the other ingredients like sliced carrots, onions, egg, garlic and mushrooms.

Do you prefer a charcoal or gas grill?

I like charcoal. It has more flavor, especially charcoal made with wood. It's a little bit harder to control, but the fire is stronger.

Read the entire interview in the Sac Bee.

The Bee also interviewed T&R Taste of Texas chef Rodney Ray and Blackbird Kitchen + Bar chef Carina Lee Lampkin.

Coincidentally, I went to a party on Saturday evening where the food was catered by T&R Taste of Texas. It was absolutely scrumptious. The ribs were tender. The hot links were perfectly spicy, and they had some sort of sweet potato pie tater tots that I can't wait to eat a proper meal at the restaurant.

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Savoring Seasonal Fare at Mulvaney's B&L - You can always count on Mulvaney’s B&L for a prettily composed, fresh-from-the-farm repast. I stopped by the popular midtown restaurant recently for a quick lunch and hit the jackpot with the kitchen’s frisee and arugula salad, whose greens were sourced from West Sacramento’s Del Rio Botanical  – a farm well-respected by both local chefs and Sacramento foodies (it happens to offer one of the most interesting and exciting CSA boxes in the region). Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

It's All About Cheese at The Rind - Other treats we savored at The Rind included a fabulous salad featuring locally-grown greens and beets, enlivened with a dash of lemon zest; and the best grilled cheese sandwich I have ever tasted, showcasing Modesto’s Fiscalini “clothbound” cheddar cheese and tangy sourdough bread. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

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Dining News: Tako Korean BBQ is 'Good, Playful & Affordable'


In his weekend restaurant review, Sac Bee restaurant reviewer Blair Anthony Robertson takes a look at Tako Korean BBQ, now that it's gone through its opening growing pains.

The kimchi quesadilla ($5) is my favorite item on the menu, a tour de force of color, texture and flavor that stands tall and proud at the intersection of imaginative and seriously good.

It's a quesadilla in size and shape, transformed to a new dimension by crunchy, fermented Napa cabbage (created from scratch by Cho's mother), perfectly toasty tortillas and gooey cheese. The purple finishing sauce drizzled over the top gives it creamy texture and visual appeal – it's made with blueberries.

And if you go with the highly recommended spicy pork as an add-on ($2), you have one of the greatest little meals going.

Tako Korean BBQ knows what it's doing with meats and these folks understand flavor. The bulgogi (marinated beef) has a gentle sweetness on the palate.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee. (Read my Instant Reaction here.)

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Piatti Sacramento: Welcome Back! - Sunday evening, Andy and I had dinner at the newly remodeled Piatti Ristorante on Fair Oaks Boulevard in Sacramento. The restaurant (which had been closed for 4 months) has just reopened after a replacement of the flooring, ceiling, lighting, bar top and furniture. Kristy DeVaney on CaveGrrl.

Temple Coffee House - What a revelation it was to discover I could enjoy the taste of coffee without adding cream or sugar.  In the past, if I ever had to drink a regular cup of coffee, I would find myself dissatisfied by the lack of flavor and bitter taste.  It wasn’t until I discovered Temple Coffee House and sampled their award-winning coffee that I truly learned to appreciate the wonderful flavor-potential of these rare, natural coffee beans. Ana Marie Aguas on Sac Foodies.

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