Chow King

6051 Mack Rd
Sacramento, CA 95823

Rating: ★½☆☆☆ 

A visit to South Sacramento may entail a visit to the Seafood City shopping center. Other than Jollibee, Chow King makes for another popular eating destination. Filipino based, the menu resembles other Chinese restaurants, but Chow King definitely features more Filipino goods. Food is cooked to order, so food trays are absent. Unfamiliar with the food offered, I selected regular Wonton Noodle Soup. Other dishes ordered included the Crunchy Chicken Lauriat, BBQ pork buns, and Shu Mai.

Overall, the food tasted OK, but the Chicken was overcooked, and most food lacked flavor. The Crunchy Chicken Lauriat was a good value considering it came with stir fried noodles, mini egg rolls, and rice. The dipping sauce for the food was very tasty and added flavor to the bland food. The Shu Mai was of low quality and did not offer any real taste. The BBQ pork buns lacked flavor and the meat resembled reconstituted pork jerky, definitely not worth it. The wonton noodle soup was simple and included beef as well. Flavor was still lacking, but the overall dish was good.

I probably won’t make another trip down to Chow King anytime soon. The food lacked flavor and portion size was smaller than desired. If you wanted a good meal in the Seafood City area, you are better off eating Jollibee. Do not eat here.

Pho Tau Bay

6830 Stockton Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95823

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Recommended by my coworker Jua, I decided to go and try this place out. Found across the street from A&A Supermarket on Stockton Boulevard, Pho Tau Bay serves Vietnamese pho noodles. This restaurant was formerly known as Pho Anh Do. When I say they serve pho noodles, I seriously mean they ONLY serve pho noodles. A two-page menu shows options for both chicken pho noodles and beef pho noodles in medium and large sizes. Signs posted in the restaurant show that after March 11th, beef pho noodles will only be available on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Chicken pho noodles will still be available everyday. I also found it interesting that this restaurant closes at 4:30PM, or when they run out of broth as Jua had pointed out. In addition to noodle soup, the back page of the menu lists drink options. I find that this restaurant is fairly interesting in the fact that it is so limiting. With that said, service was pretty good, but the restaurant seemed to have old tables and a bunch of broken windows that are boarded up.

Other than the restaurant itself, the actual beef noodle soup was surprisingly delicious. The entire 3 points of my rating came from the food, with the remaining 2 points missing due to lack of menu/appetizer options and restaurant maintenance issues. With that said, the soup looked a little oily, but not surprisingly oily. The soup was one of the best tasting beef soup bases that I have ever tasted, in line with the pho restaurants in San Jose. Normally, I like to add hoisin sauce to my pho, but the soup was so good this time I neglected to do so. After eating my large Pho Tai (rare steak beef noodle soup), I even finished the soup as referenced in the picture above. If you are able to get to the restaurant before they close, then you are in for a treat when it comes to the pho.

Overall, I felt that the food was amazing; however, the lack of options and the state of the restaurant really detract from the food. The hours are also not really accessible like Saigon’s especially during the evening. But if you like pho, then I suggest coming to this place at least once. If you really want a put together dining experience, then you are better off going elsewhere.

Red Lantern

1200 Athens Avenue

Lincoln, CA 95648

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Formerly Koi Palace, Red Lantern takes the reigns for high class Chinese food at Thunder Valley Resort. While dining, I found out that the only reason the name changed to Red Lantern was because their contract with Koi Palace ended, but Thunder Valley kept the same menu and staff for their newly renamed restaurant.

When it comes to tasty Chinese food, Red Lantern is able to get the taste and presentation just right. Service was also quick and attentive, especially from our server Mack. Being the nice Chinese restaurant in the casino, Red Lantern’s prices are a little high for what you get.

On this sitting, we began the meal with an appetizer, the Thunder Roll. This was the first time I have ever ordered it, and I was quite impressed with the taste. A little pricy at $10, the roll resembles a tastier version of Arigato’s tempura roll. Following the appetizer came all of the main entree dishes. Today, the dishes included the empress chicken, salt and pepper sea bass, chicken fried rice, zesty orange chicken, and sizzling beef tenderloin.

Each dish was delectable. Although I am not really a fan of empress chicken, Red Lantern did pull off the signature dish well. Salt and pepper sea bass melts in your mouth. In addition to the fried sea bass pieces, the fried asparagus proves to be an excellent pairing for the dish. Chicken fried rice was full of flavor and went well with all the meat dishes. If you thought that Panda Express had good orange chicken, then you never had the zesty orange chicken at Red Lantern. This orange chicken is tender, zesty, and you can actually taste the orange flavor! And finally, the sizzling beef tenderloin  was super tender, which also worked well paired with asparagus.

Overall, Red Lantern at Thunder Valley is a direct replacement for the original Koi Palace there, and the food surely hits the mark when it comes to authentic Chinese restaurants. The only downside of the restaurant is the price. For the occasional meal, Red Lantern will provide delicious Chinese food originating from a large descriptive menu provided by knowledgeable staff.

CF Cheng

2063 Arena Blvd
Ste 140
Sacramento, CA 95834

Rating: ★★★★½ 

When it comes to authentic Chinese food in Natomas, I can only think of CF Cheng. Unlike more Americanized restaurants, CF Cheng really delivers in the presentation, availability, and taste of authentic Chinese food. CF Cheng is located in a fairly busy plaza, filled with a variety of other restaurants. Interestingly enough, CF Cheng does very well in keeping its business packed. Smaller than your average Chinese restaurant, CF Cheng was so busy today that they had to turn away customers. Luckily, my seats were secured before the crowds came. When looking for Chinese food in Natomas, I always go to CF Cheng because of the good food and good service. Unfortunately, due to the busy time of the restaurant, the service did take a little ding, and thus the 0.5 star deduction.

Today’s meal consisted of Peking Pork, Yangzhou Fried Rice, and Singapore Rice Noodle. A combination of these three dishes tend to be my base marker for comparing Chinese restaurants. All three dishes tasted better than the dishes at Oriental Restaurant. The food came out at an acceptable pace, and we were able to sip on water and watch TV as the food was being prepared. CF Cheng is known for their energetic owner  who tends to help wait tables and take orders. In addition, if you were looking for an authentic Chinese dish that was not on the menu, feel free to ask him for it and usually he will be able to accommodate the order.

Overall, CF Cheng always gets my first choice for Chinese food in the Natomas area. The restaurant’s food really stacks up against the best Chinese restaurants in Sacramento. The only downside of the restaurant is its small size. If one day CF Cheng expands or moves to a bigger location in Natomas, I am sure they will be even better. Therefore, especially for those who live or work in Natomas, I strongly suggest you try out CF Cheng if you haven’t done so already. Happy eating!

Fatburger

1200 Athens Avenue

Lincoln, CA 95648

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

 

This Fatburger location is conveniently located at Thunder Valley Casino Resort and is open 24 hours a day. This time, I ordered an 8 ounce large fat burger with skinny fries on the side. I did not order a drink  because there is free soda at the soda fountain inside the casino. I found the burger to have too much relish and mustard, which took over the taste of the burger. The burger did really taste good and was of a good size, but I couldn’t really taste the freshness of the meat. Fatburger does advertise never-frozen beef, so I assume that the beef is good. The skinny fries were tasty and tasted even better with ranch.

Overall, Fatburger produces a tasty burger at a convenient hour. I would still prefer Five Guys over Fatburger, but if you were at Thunder Valley and looking for a good burger, Fatburger will do the trick.

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