Somewhat surprised last week when I read that Frank Fat's was named to the Top 5 Chinese food places by some survey. Don't get me wrong, Fat's has decent to good chinese food, most of time, but top five, no way. And, like when I ate there last week, they can bomb big time.
Fat's is moving to an asian fusion cuisine, in order to attract a new and broader market. Based on their rendition of their mango, ginger chicken, they should stick to making the best mai tai in Sacramento. We could not tell that the mango was mango, it was hard and tasteless and could easily have been papaya or cantaloupe. The chicken was breaded and fried, like it would be in a lemon chicken dish. The honey walnut prawns was very, very plain, with tasteless prawns that seemed more warmed over than fresh. Lastly, the brocolli beef was overly salted. Definitely disappointing. No doubt, our selections had something to do with it, but nonetheless, the selections were poorly executed. However, the ever- reliable banana cream pie was reliably good.
Zen Toro, my favorite japanese restarant in sacramento, seems to have been discovered by the masses overflowing from Mikuni's. Unfortunately for sushi purists, Mikuni's has carried the art of sacramento sushi to new, sauced-enladdened heights, with the toppings often overshadow the other ingredients. Perhaps as kids we were innoculated with big macs and its secret sauce, but that is what sacramento sushi seems styled after. In any event, that style is immensely popular, and Zen Toro has also decided to follow this trend with some success. My friend loved his "crazy calamari" roll, but it was too sacramento-sushi for me. I liked their spider roll and spicy tuna roll.
However, the real jewel of Zen Toro is the grill and fry chef, Masa Nishiyama, whose lightly fried tempura, grilled salmon, and beef teriyaki demostrate the range of his expertise. Menu selections are mostly reasonably priced, with a teriyaki or tempura with sushi combo, available for $13. the salmon was only $14, and would be $18 to $20 elsewhere. I tried the $30 sashimi plate, which advertised the freshest selections of the day, and was very disappointed. Aside for three bits on himachi belly, five slices of good maguro, a decent oyster, the rest was pretty plain. The salmon at Mikuni the other night was noticeably better, the saba was oversalted, the strips of squid and snow crab legs almost tasteless, the tako rubbery, and the ebi was sliced so thin, i wonded what happened to the rest of the shrimp. I asked for some extra japanese seaweed, because the serving was quite sparse, and they gave me another dollop, another 2 round tablespoons, for $4. Oh well.
Miso soup was ordinary, which was disappointing.
The real killer of the evening, however, was a drunken party who obvioulsy thought they were the only diners in the room. It was so loud, our table could not hold a coversation. The server did not seem to want to suggest that they hold it down to a roar, so we left. Still, I would recommend Zen Toro, but with the above caveats.