Praised by reviewers from the Contra Costa Times and Diabolo Magazine for its freshness, skillfully assembled flavors, and perfectly cooked seafood and duck, Zen Restaurant has been making a splash since it opened. Chefs are adept at fusing a variety of culinary influences culled from across Asia, resulting in dishes such as Vietnamese shrimp-avocado rolls, Thai red curry sauce, Mongolian beef, Chinese crispy pork, and Singapore noodles. Diners enjoy their food in a warmly lit space, featuring hardwood floors, a bright red accent wall, and contemporary furnishings.
Behind the kitchen doors, flaming pans roast orders of meats, seafood, and seasonal vegetables to reflect the culinary traditions of Chinese culture. In addition to the sweet, sour, and savory sauces that coat the dishes' steamed white or brown rice, the cooks can create entrees with enough fiery spice to bring tears to the eyes of a potato. To accompany each meal, the restaurant's bar slides over domestic and imported beers, and glasses of wine from a California-centric list that features fruit-forward reds alongside palate-cooling whites.
Inside an environmentally friendly dining room outfitted with fast-growing bamboo floors and eco-safe paint, patrons sup on sustainable, authentic Chinese dishes made from organically grown ingredients. Intricate lighting fixtures cast patterned shadows over diners as they tuck into aromatic platters of stir-fried smoked pork belly, wok-tossed seafood, or braised tofu prepared from recipes brought over from China 20 years ago and furnished with organic meats and produce from local farms and markets.
After growing up in the Basilicata region of southern Italy and training in fine Florentine restaurants, Sergio Mirabelli exported his culinary talents to America. A year later, in 1995, he and his wife, Francesca, opened their first eatery on Oakland's restaurant row. Sergio's Steak and Seafood is the Mirabelli family's latest dining establishment?another outlet for the traditional cuisine of Sergio?s childhood. ?My family were hunters and we know how to cook game," Mirabelli told Art Garcia of the Folsom Telegraph. He and his Sicilian chef prove this daily by crafting specials built around wild game and fresh seafood in addition to housemade pasta and sauces.
Mirabelli and his wife typically roam the restaurant, greeting guests at the door and making people feel at home; Francesca has even started offering cooking classes where students can learn how to bake biscotti. And their gregarious personalities have won over customers and critics alike. The cozy eatery was ranked the No. 1 Folsom restaurant on TripAdvisor, and Mirabelli has appeared several times on CW 31 Good Day Sacramento's Dishin' With Tina. Even Sacramento magazine got in on the action, hailing the restaurant's "generous portions of lusty food" and old-style Italian ambiance, which is created in part by tapestries depicting scenic, Mediterranean-like landscapes, and in part by analysts predicting the fall of the Roman Empire.
Executive chef Christopher Mathew Headding knows the value of patience. When shipments of marbled Midwestern beef arrive at Chops Steak, Seafood & Bar, he doesn't trim them right away. Instead, he and his kitchen team hang the meat, pull up seats, and intently watch for the next 28 days as natural enzymes break down any toughness and flavor density builds. Once the beef hits the perfect color and firmness, Christopher gets up and trims the top sirloin, new york strips, and other cuts of steak by hand.
Such attention to detail pervades Chops Steak, Seafood & Bar at both its Folsom and Sacramento locations. Besides the aged steaks—which also include fillets wet aged up to 21 days—Christopher's team works with high-quality seafood, such as chinook salmon, australian lobster, and alaskan king crab. To complement these dishes, bartenders serve a selection of wines and signature cocktails, such as the Saint Bernard with Absolut Ruby Red vodka and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.
A beautiful flower and a lucky number. Looking for an auspicious beginning to life as restauranteurs, the culinary minds behind Lotus 8 combined these two elements into a name. Like its title, the restaurant's cuisine is a combination, too, blending authentic Chinese flavors with plenty of contemporary twists. Nothing here is precooked or parachuted down as a care package from the kitchen of Air Force One–chefs prepare dishes to order using fresh seasonal ingredients and less salt and oil than traditional Chinese cooking. The result is a menu packed with popular entrees, such as honey walnut shrimp, sizzling black pepper beef, and Mongolian lamb. Lotus 8 also boasts a special tasting menu with dishes crafted from the chef's secret recipes.