Sunday, March 26, 2006

Local Eats in Sonoma County

Since I enjoy cooking, I rarely go out to eat unless I am with a friend. It's a way to socialize and chat. I am usually not there for the food. But I must say that I like trying new restaurants. It is so very unusual for me to eat in 3 new-to-me places in 1 week but that happened recently.

First I met a friend at a new Korean restaurant called Nabhee Cafe. It is located in a nondescript area of 4th Street in Santa Rosa between South E and Brookwoood. The interior is fairly stark with nice golden-hued glass lamps above each table. The menu is compact, especially for vegetarians but they have some interesting offerings. For instance, you can get white rice or mixed grains (very delicious) instead.

Before the arrival of the meal we were offered 8 small dishes that contained spinach with sesame seeds, sweet black beans, 2 types of kim chee, vegetable and seaweed and more. All were fresh and yummy. Then came our large bowl of noodle and vegetable soup. It wouldn't have been anything special but it came with a spicy sauce to pour in and I may have been a bit heavy handed with it but it was very tasty. My friend Barbara and I shared the soup and mung bean pancakes which contained large pieces of onion and mung bean sprouts. After tasting a pancake and sluprping some soup, I said, "I would defnitely come back here."

The table of 3 behind us had defnitely eaten there before. The 2 different women servers were unobtrusive yet friendly, refliling our tea and water as needed. It's a great place to go for mixed couples (meat-eaters and vegetarians).

Later that week I went to Hana, a sushi restaruant in Rohnert Park. I had always heard good things about it. The food was very fresh there, too. I did not have sushi but once again chose noodles. This time it was soba with a slightly sweet broth, and a huge pile of tempura onions and carrots on the side. My friend Patrick remarked how lovely I looked with long strands of vegetables hanging out of my mouth. Frist I had to dangle them on my chopsticks (with which I do have experience, having chosen to eat all my food with them with I was in my early 20s.) If I wanted sushi, even the veggie kind which is all I eat, I'd venture back to Hana.

Meal number 3 was breakfast at Hank's Creekside. On a very rainy weekday morning, you'd hardly expect a wait shortly after 9 a.m. but there was. This is a cozy spot next to a creek in east Santa Rosa. The food is typical breakfast fare but seemingly fresh and not especially greasy. You can get omelettes, scrambles, pancakes, oatmeal, granola, fruit and homemade biscuits, if you care for them. The waitresses are efficient and as young as most Sonoma County wait staff. My guess is that some of them have worked there for a long time. I heard friendly banter at the small couner up front, and waitresses greeting people by name. Although it is supposed to be one of the best breakfast places in Santa Rosa I may not go back only because my favorite breakfasts are eaten early in the morning at my home.

I go out to eat for socializing, not so much for the food. Heck, I know how to cook.

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