Thursday, May 23, 2024

Last Call for Soup at Japhy's

Posted By on Thu, May 23, 2024 at 5:26 PM

Tera Mar and Kate Manley showed up at 10 a.m. to stake out the first spot in line for a last meal from Japhy's Soup and Noodles today. The restaurant announced its closure this week after a quarter century in business and the line for its final lunch service stretches up the block to Northtown Coffee.
Regulars for 25 years, Kate Manley and Tera Mar are first in line on Japhy's last day. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Regulars for 25 years, Kate Manley and Tera Mar are first in line on Japhy's last day.

"We've been coming here for 25 years and we had to get one last Thai chicken curry and cold noodle salad," Mar says. "And cornbread." Under their cafe table, their 17-year-old miniature Dachshund Ming rests her white face in her paws. "She'll get a piece of my chicken," Mar adds.

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Saturday, April 27, 2024

Hole Food

Posted By on Sat, Apr 27, 2024 at 9:00 AM

The doughnuts at Frankie's NY Bagels (3750 Harris St., Eureka) are doused in an array of glazes to tempt anyone but that many of the springy treats are vegan is somewhat miraculous. Lime, tamarind and hibiscus sprinkled, anyone? (Tragically, we have yet to make it in time for the crunch-topped créme brûlée before sell-out. And yet options for sweet, fried solace were within reach.)
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Friday, April 19, 2024

Look Up for Rooftop Sushi

Posted By on Fri, Apr 19, 2024 at 6:24 PM

Those of us craning our necks in Old Town can satisfy our curiosity at last. The frankly named Rooftop Sushi is out in the daylight at last (148 E St., Eureka). Slip into the modest entrance on the E Street side of the new building and ride the elevator (a Eureka rarity) to the fourth floor, where the soft opening is in full swing. 
Joe Tan and silent partner Lily Tan. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Joe Tan and silent partner Lily Tan.
Opening during a welcome streak of sunshine, co-owner and chef Joe Tan and his silent business partner Lily Tan (no relation) say the first couple of days have been busy. While the indoor dining space and counter were empty off hours, every seat on the patio was taken with diners enjoying nigiri, maki sushi and plates of spiraling beef carpaccio. And sunshine — lots of sunshine. The view of the bay is reserved for the event space on the other side of the rooftop, but the restaurant's half of the partially covered wood deck overlooks Old Town and environs. 
The view from the top at Rooftop Sushi. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The view from the top at Rooftop Sushi.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2024

On the Jamwagon Bandwagon

Posted By on Wed, Apr 3, 2024 at 5:43 PM

You can’t miss the bright blue Jamwagon food truck with its red lettering announcing pitas, gyros, hummus, falafel and fries (1631 Central Ave., McKinleyville; updates on Facebook). And good thing, too. (Sidebar: Is McKinleyville’s Central Avenue, with its Indian takeover days at the Taqueria Martinez truck, Auntie Hao’s and now this Greek street-food operation, becoming the spot to cruise food trucks with big flavors?)
Loaded fries with tzatziki sauce. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Loaded fries with tzatziki sauce.

Instead of the usual heavy toppings, the Jamwagon’s loaded fries take a refreshing turn for the Mediterranean ($6, plus $1.50 for chicken/$3.50 lamb). Doused in creamy, garlicky tzatziki sauce, its mild tartness coupling with chunks of feta cheese, they come topped with chopped tomato and slices of charred peppers, the light bitterness of which you may find yourself hunting for at the bottom of the container.


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Thursday, March 28, 2024

A Burger Break in the Rain

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2024 at 4:47 PM

In Humboldt spring, if the patio is dry, much less sunny, take advantage. Not all the benches were dry at Eureka's branch of Redwood Curtain Brewery when the rain let up at last, but enough for a burger and fries framed in a patch of sun in front of the attached Cookin' Nook truck. 
The Myrtle Burger with cheddar and a side of fries. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The Myrtle Burger with cheddar and a side of fries.


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Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Wildwood Waffles Heads North

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2024 at 8:47 PM

The sweet smell of Wildwood Waffles has left Rio Dell. After a final weekend of waffling, owner Harry Smith has packed up his irons for Gig Harbor, Washington, where another branch is already in business.

"This isn't my choice to leave that place," says Smith, nor did he want to leave Rio Dell. But after parting ways with Root 101 and its owner, former partner Nick Mitchell, Smith says he was unable to find a viable location for the shop. Wildwood Waffles, he says, has done well since its start in August of 2017, often serving 50 customers a day and pulling in an estimated quarter of a million dollars in waffle and coffee sales last year. "Out of the corner of a hardware store," he says with a laugh.
WILDWOOD WAFFLES FACEBOOK
  • Wildwood Waffles Facebook

Smith, who has been active with the Veteran's Hall, the Kiwanis Club and other organizations, says, "I'm gonna miss the community the most."

Shuttering the shop where so many enjoyed grab-and-go stuffed sweet and savory waffles was "the last thing I wanted to do," says Smith. The rush of customers coming in for one last waffle over the past week has “been heartwarming but also sad,” he says. “Bittersweet.”




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Sushi Spot’s Tipping Point

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2024 at 2:00 PM

The social media response to Sushi Spot posting its new policy regarding gratuities was swift and nuclear, with Facebook posters and commenters largely deriding the announcement, some even swearing off patronizing the business for good. But the plan itself, the automatic addition of an 18-percent “equity fee” for dine-in and 10 percent for takeout to be shared among all staff in lieu of traditional tipping, had been in the works for some time.

“Other restaurants around California have started doing this a few years ago [coming] out of COVID … that’s kind of where the idea came from,” says Sushi Spot owner Eric Stark, who also liked the sound of “equity fee” as used by some of those businesses. During the early part of the pandemic, he says, “We didn’t have servers, we were 100-percent takeout and the tips that came in were split between our staff.” Reopening to dine-in service brought back the old system of tips for servers, from which they would routinely and voluntarily tip out the kitchen staff. This, he notes, effectively left cooks and chefs with a paycut, their shares having gone down in percentage from the takeout-only system.

Workers at the McKinleyville Sushi Spot counter. - FILE
  • File
  • Workers at the McKinleyville Sushi Spot counter.

Stark says an experienced “sashimi chef and server are equally valuable,” and even a 40/60 split doesn’t reflect that. “We want to have a fair distribution of this 18 percent.” Some 75 to 80 percent of the staff at Sushi Spot’s three locations, he says, work back of house, including seven chefs with 10 years of experience each. “We’re trying to create a system where it doesn’t matter if you’re in the front or the back.”

The American tipping system can, Stark says, undermine teamwork, motivating servers to guard their sections rather than helping each other out during a rush or with a large party, while kitchen staff can be less invested in helping servers with diners’ experiences. Hosts, he notes, also make fewer tips than servers, which can make it difficult to find someone willing to perform an important role in a full-service restaurant. This, he says, is not to paint a bad picture of waitstaff or suggest they aren’t deserving, noting the servers on staff are “incredible,” but the system could be more equitable. He says he’s also seen customers harassing servers, doing or saying inappropriate things because “maybe they think they’re entitled because they’re tipping.” (See the Journal’s previous reporting on server harassment, “We’ve All Got Stories,” Feb. 29, 2023.)


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Monday, January 22, 2024

Mazzotti's Shuts its Doors

Posted By on Mon, Jan 22, 2024 at 3:43 PM

On Thursday, Jan. 11, Joe Mazzotti says he had nobody to cook at Mazzotti's, so he didn't open the iconic Arcata Plaza restaurant. "December was probably one of the toughest financial Decembers I’ve had to face," he says, explaining the restaurant was only pulling in about half of its usual $5,000 per night. “My money ran out and I was unable to keep our employees paid on time,” prompting some of the more than 40 staff members to look for work elsewhere. "People gotta do what they gotta do." For him, that means shutting down the restaurant.

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Saturday, December 16, 2023

Benedicts at the Burger Joint

Posted By on Sat, Dec 16, 2023 at 8:05 AM

When T’s Café North closed up shop, Arcata’s roster of brunch spots took a blow. Not to worry. Since August, the stacks of stuffed French toast and the roster of champagne cocktails served in Mason jars have migrated the few blocks to Burger Joint, run by the same owner, Halleh Paymard. Happily, you needn’t wait for the weekend, as the breakfast/brunch menu is on offer from 9 or 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. all but Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when the joint is closed. And, if your schedule allows, a weekday brunch on the sunny patio beats waiting for a table among the hungover on a Sunday.

“I really miss the space and having that really beautiful redwood bar in there,” says Paymard. But consolidating the two restaurants’ menus in the Burger Joint made sense, as the kitchen wasn’t in use in the morning. Keep an eye out for more crossover between the early and evening fare in the new year.

Naturally, there is a breakfast burger topped with a fried egg and hashbrowns ($14), as well as the usual standards. But sides like cheddar grits or a flat iron steak — somehow chicken fried steak with gravy are sides here — may require you to recalibrate your usual brunch order.

The crab cake eggs Benedict at Burger Joint. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The crab cake eggs Benedict at Burger Joint.

The Benedict menu is a mix-and-match challenge, starting with a base of poached eggs on English Muffin, homemade biscuit or sauteed greens ($11). From there, the sauces, from traditional Hollandaise to vegan cashew gravy, additional proteins and toppings are a happy maze. A dollar will get you any of 10 vegetable options, arugula and mushrooms among them; $1.50 adds a dollop of guacamole, pesto, chèvre or caramelized onions. The basic breakfast meats like ham, bacon and soy chorizo run $2 and serious add-ons like grilled salmon, crab cakes or steak are $4. The possible permutations are dizzying. Consider carefully.

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Monday, October 23, 2023

UPDATE: Belly Up to the Salsa Bar

Posted By on Mon, Oct 23, 2023 at 4:12 PM

UPDATE: In sad salsa-related news, Paco's Tacos, the Eureka Mexican restaurant that briefly dazzled us with its array of salsas, has closed. When contacted by the Journal, the owners responded that the partnership "didn't work out," but they are hopeful that they'll be able to open elsewhere down the road.

PREVIOUSLY: The revolving door spot on Eureka’s Fifth Street Los Sinaloenses and its marvelous white menudo occupied has flipped again. Alfa Torres and her husband Bosacio Villagrana have opened their first restaurtant Paco’s Tacos Taqueria (1134 Fifth St., Eureka) in the spot, bringing big flavor in the form of its salsa bar. A Southern California standard, the array of self-serve salsas has thus far eluded us on the North Coast, and the couple weren’t finding the level of spice they wanted. “It’s something different in Humboldt; no one has it,” says Torres.
A rainbow of salsa options at Paco's Tacos Taqueria. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • A rainbow of salsa options at Paco's Tacos Taqueria.

Salsa aficionados, your moment has arrived. Lift the stainless steel lid of the salsa bar and reveal a dozen options from dark and oily to bright and creamy. On a recent visit, they included: freshly made chipotle, verde, habanero, pico de gallo, chile de aceite, roja, chile de arbol and guacamole salsas, fresh lime and habanero slices, sliced pepperoncini and pickled jalapeño. Somewhere in that field is the tang and heat you have been looking for, the oily chile de aceite — spiked with chile japones and chile de arbol — and the habanero being closest to the top of the Scoville chart.

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