Sapporo is the sushi restaurant’s answer to the overly familiar neighborhood pub. If you need to be greeted warmly by a hostess and have your every need catered to in a reasonable time frame, I’m not sure it’s the place for you. There’s nothing wrong with those expectations, but Sapporo won’t meet them. Instead, the tiny staff—consisting of one waitress and the sushi chef Sam—will get to you in due time, and your drink order will likely be yelled across the restaurant.
As soon as you see the restaurant’s interior, you’ll realize it’s a playful joint. Keep yourself entertained while waiting for service by looking at the polaroids covering the walls and booths.
And keep that playfulness in mind as you realize Sam’s banter with the regulars is far more entertaining than the photos. Otherwise, you may be worried actual insults are being flung around rather than friends skewering each other. Heck, not knowing for certain is part of the appeal.
Sam, the sushi chef.
But I think the existence of a Crazy Sammy roll resolves that question pretty well.
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The newest burger joint in Hayward is Red Rocket Char Grill, right in the heart of the downtown strip (1057 B Street).
This qualifies as the second echelon of burger joints, the ones classed up enough that you don’t worry about whether your chair will collapse beneath you or if you’ll pick up splinters from the table. Being on the second echelon doesn’t mean they make a better burger, but atmosphere can definitely affect opinion.
Red Rocket’s red-and-black checker design, complete with a tiled mosaic wall in back, is assuredly more inviting than my first two stops. But it comes with a black mark from my husband; he swears it takes far too long for a fast food restaurant. So I’m counting the minutes from order placed to order up.
Doesn’t seem that long for freshly grilled burgers to me, but don’t expect McDonald’s assembly line speeds. I’ll continue thinking my husband odd for doing just that.
In addition to burgers, Red Rocket offers chargrilled chicken, sausage, and steak sandwiches and salads—they all have “rocket” as part of the name, but somehow I doubt I’ll be calling them that instead of burgers anytime soon. Standard potato, garlic, cheese, and sweet potato fries are available as sides. For dessert, the expected trio of shake flavors appears….and New York cheesecake and churros! It’s good to have choices.
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Last summer, the husband and I moved away from the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina after spending eight years watching the cities expand and their food scenes skyrocket off the heat-charts. Seriously, the New York Times is obsessed with the place! So I was excited to head back for the weekend in mid-September—my head’s still spinning from the other side of the country over all the new foodie destinations that have sprung up just this past year.
While my husband gave a presentation at NC DevCon, I decided to spend my weekend exploring as many of downtown Raleigh’s newly opened spots as possible. Why Raleigh and not the rest of the Triangle? I had no car and was staying downtown. It’s that simple. I needed to focus on places I could walk to.
After our flight in, my first stop was Jose and Sons (327 W. Davie St.) for dinner. It’s the newest incarnation of one of my favorite Triangle restaurants, Jibarra, located in the fast-redeveloping Warehouse District right by the train depot.
Jose and Sons is now more Southern-Mexican fusion, whereas it had been pure upscale Mexican food in the past. While I remain skeptical about the value of $8 guacamole—
–and the shrimps and grits didn’t have nearly enough heat for me—
–I have to give solid props to the Booze and Mango cocktail.
That’s dessert in a glass, and it’s a beautifully balanced one, too. Vanilla rum, Grand Marnier, cream, and what Jose and Son’s calls a mango popsicle and I’d call a mango-flavored ice cube make for a worthy night cap.
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