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Fiesta Tepa Report - Watsonville

I have to also concur with kare raisu...while not recent
I had dinner there about 3 months ago and had the paella
at the recommendation of the owner.

The rice was overcooked, dried out, chewy and hard.
The so-called meat and seafood must have come from
'Jacks Links' cuz not even sasquatch would be messin
with this dish.

The owner was not as friendly either, he was busy cajoling
only the tables of 6 or more rather than bother with our
meager table of only two.

I definitely won't be revisiting this place anytime soon.
Unless one of you changes my mind with a REAL compelling
dining experiences.

Dec 29, 2007
homeboy3 in California

Live Dungeness Crab by Saturday 11/18 on the Beticia in Moss Landing

Melanie thanks for the headzup again this year. I went on your tip last year and sought out the Beticia. It was pouring rain that day but worth the short trip (I live in Watsonville).

Both crabs we had (boiled simply in a crab boil) were sweet and tender. Looks like they kept the prices pretty similiar as the year before.

Looking forward to getting the crab crackers out again!

Nov 22, 2006
homeboy3 in California

Great Dickens Christmas Faire

Going to the 28th Annual Great Dickens Christmas Faire at the Cow Palace this opening weekend. My FIRST time ever so this is going to be an experience I hope.

Does anyone have any recommendations or what to avoid when dining there? Also some price ranges would be good too. I figure at $20/pp + $8/parking I'm already in the hole for a Grant (no not a grand, a "Grant" as in Ulysses).

I'm driving up from Santa Cruz County, and if we decide to venture into the city for dinner later, does anyone also have any suggestions for an affordable price. I know, the choices are amazing in the City!

Thanks for all the suggestions.

Nov 22, 2006
homeboy3 in San Francisco Bay Area

Aloha, L4 Hawaiian BBQ-Watsonville

It seems like Watsonville is really trying to break out the “McBurrito” mold. Within the month of August 2006, Kakaina Filipino, you can read my take here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/....
And now L4 Hawaiian BBQ which recently opened just up the road has dared to break the taqueria onslaught.

Hawaiian plate lunch vendors have been for years feeding the hungry masses of island laborers, surfers and thrifty tourist. Standard plate lunches typically consist of a vaguely pan-Asian meat menu item that’s part of the local culture in Hawaii and two scoops of white rice and a scoop of macaroni salad taken by an ice cream scooper. Fifteen or twenty meat choices are typically available, even a wide range of Asian cuisines (Chinese stir fry, Japanese chicken katsu) to American home cooking (hamburger patties). This is a “robust” meal to get you through the work or surf day.

Joining it’s two sister establishments in Berkeley and San Francisco respectively, L4 Hawaiian BBQ now occupies the former Golden Peach Chinese restaurant. Stopping in during a take-out run on a weekday shortly after the lunch crowd we were greeted by a bit of tropical ambiance with bright peach-yellow paint on the inside complete with a couple island scene murals on the ceiling, rattan chairs and plastic laminate tables. It’s breezy and pleasant without screaming an Oprahesque Haa-Wah-Yahn!

The Seafood Mix plate ($7.50) which includes Mahi-Mahi , fried shrimp, and your choice of teriyaki steak, B.B.Q. chicken, or B.B.Q. beef short ribs in addition to fried rice, chow mein, macaroni salad, or steamed rice (total 3 scoops). The fried shrimp and Mahi-Mahi were agreeably fried to a golden brown and maintained a nice crunch even after sitting in its clamshell styrofoam container for the 10 min. drive home. The pieces of B.B.Q. chicken were good and not overcooked. The macaroni salad, benchmark of a good Hawaiian plate lunch, had just the right creamy consistency and agreeable flavor meant to accompany the rest of the items.

The Hawaiian chow mein ($6.25) which can be described pleasantly as -- it just works. You know the saying just add some tinned pineapple chunks to something and you can call it á la Hawaiian! Yeah L4 Hawaiian BBQ does just that with an assortment of B.B.Q. meat, shrimp, pineapple chunks and stir fried veggies combined with mildly seasoned noodles. The result is a surprisingly harmless twist on a standard Cantonese favorite. Funny thing, the more I kept eating this the more strangely addictive it became. Someone please challenge me on this, or did I just fall off the chow mein cart on this one?

Traditional plate lunch standbys Chicken Katsu, B.B.Q chicken, Kalua Pig, Loco Moco (hamburger patty with gravy topped with a fried egg), B.B.Q beef short ribs as well as new takes such as Basil Chicken, Five Flavor Chicken, Crispy & Spicy Beef, Mongolian Beef, and O’Ahu Pineapple Sweet & Sour Pork. Interestingly Lau Lau (Beef, Chicken, Butterfish or Pork Wrapped in Taro or Ti Leaves), an island favorite, is curiously missing from the menu.

“Island choices” entrees go from ($5.75-$7.50). Asian-inspired salads ($1.95 - $5.25), burgers ($2.25-$2.95) as well as appetizers ($2.75-$4.25) including a guilty pleasure of mine, Spam musubi ($2.75). If you’re not too hungry they suggest “mini” meals of selected items for only $3.95. They also are available for catering.

Service at the currently family-only run place is friendly and thoughtful but can be a bit slow due to the growing daily crowds. My dining companion, in a comparable taste test, who has eaten plate lunches in several places on the Islands, gave L4 Hawaiian B.B.Q. the thumbs up. With affordable, generous portions, better than average quality of your typical “fast food” I think that even Pele would approve and give Watsonville’s L4 Hawaiian BBQ a warm Aloha.

This place is a bit tricky to spot as it’s located on a quasi-frontage road. Check your online mapping directions but if you’re coming from the North and you’ve past Santa Cruz County Bank on your left you’ve gone too far. And from the south, if you’ve past the Target shopping complex on your left, you’ve gone too far. Some parking available in the front or behind in the Main St Office Center complex newly renovated parking lot.

L4 Hawaiian BBQ
1116 Main Street
Watsonville, CA 95076
Open Daily: 11:00am to 9:30 pm
831.724.6689

Sep 06, 2006
homeboy3 in California

Price Drop Alert - Sakura Seafood Buffet, Salinas

I hope this is alright with all, including board moderators that I started a new thread on this subject.

I was at Sakura Seafood Buffet yesterday for lunch and noticed a huge banner announcing it has lowered it's All-U-Can-Eat buffet prices. I asked someone why they decided to lower it's already reasonable prices and was told "...we need to get more customers in...." I actually think the prices at it's ?sister?/competitor restaurant King Buffet on the South side had something to do with it. Now, Sakura's price is even lower than King Buffet's! Hopefully it's new pricing doesn't adversely affect the quality.

For a review of Sakura please refer to Melanie Wong's:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/88989?user_name=&query=sakura
It's fairly accurate in that some days the food is spot on what Melanie wrote in her review, and somedays it's better than usual.

And her review of King Buffet which is spot on:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

New Prices:

Mon-Sat
Adult Lunch Buffet $5.99 down from $6.99; Adult Dinner Buffet $8.99 down from $9.99
Sunday/Holiday price is unchanged at $10.99

Carry Out
Lunch $3.25/lb down from $3.99/lb; Dinner $4.25/lb down from $4.99/lb

Aug 26, 2006
homeboy3 in California

Kaikaina Filipino Cuisine-Watsonville (long)

This is my FIRST lengthy review I’ve submitted to the boards so bear with me. I want to make a disclaimer that this is more of a review of reaction rather than your traditional food review. Oh sure there is a brief review of what we ate but I will mainly discuss our service experience of which truly defines the food and even sets the mood and tone of the overall experience of an allegedly fine dining establishment.

Kakaina Fil Cuisine (located in the Orchard Supply Hardware shopping complex) occupies the ill-fated locations of Romeo’s, Thai Basil and Thai Chili respectively. The owner (by the way dressed in a red t-shirt and jeans as was the servers) of Kakaina strongly boasted his restaurant, and I quote literally, is the “...first and only fine dining establishment serving fine Filipino cuisine.” Now mind you I have eaten my share of great Filipino food, and my conclusion is that Filipino food is extremely generous and filling, home-style cooking that brings a wonderfully exotic and unique meaning to “Mmmm”

This is NOT the case of Kakaina. Upon a Tuesday early evening arrival just before 5:00pm the pleasantly decorated place was a ghost town. A far cry from the two weeks prior where a server informed us the place was packed. The owner, who lords over the front sits glued in front of a large screen TV and laptop; till a customer beckons the doorway. This is when he jumps into action. With the “hyperocity” of a midway carny, he kept emphasizing the place as serving fine Filipino cuisine over and over, even to the point of putting his mantra on a large grand opening banner that adorns the front of the restaurant. He also said that everything is served ala carte and each plate generously serves 2 to 3 people. I hesisted and wanted to further discuss whether I wanted to eat here, but my dining companion was dead set sold by the proprietors claims. When I surrendered to the decision, the owner then “rushed” us into the barren dining room where he brusquely grabbed a couple menu’s and shoved them in front of a server and literally commanded her to not take but, and I quote, “...get our order.”

Wow, I thought. This guy’s pretty crass as well as a huckster. At this point I was feeling “used.” Well here’s the part you’ve all been waiting for - the food. Kakaina has a pretty large yet confusing menu of traditional Filipino food as well as a strange mélange of Spanish, Mexican, and Mediterranean food. It’s almost like it can’t make up which side of the river to be on. The server was actually no help and admitted since she wasn’t Filipino she couldn’t describe anything to us. She did however assure us the food was “homemade”. We opted to strangely start of with an appetizer of calamari fritos ($5.95) that were marble-sized pieces of occasional tender, mostly overcooked, as well as clumps of fried batter all with an after taste of old oil. The traditional dish of Pork Adobo ($9.95) had a pleasant flavored sauce, but noticed that out of the nine small 2” x 1” pieces of tough overcooked pork was half fat. In fairness, while it’s a tradition to cook adobo with the fat intact, and I like my marbling like next person, but this was just plain gross. They could have least doubled the portion to offset the meat-to-fat ratio to make it more worth the price tag. The plate comes with a slice of tomato, two cucumber slices, and a few shreds of grated carrots. I guess this is where the “fine dining” comes into play. A side dish of rice ($1.50) enough for two is the traditional accompaniment to adobo. Now pancit is one of my favorite Filipino dishes, but Kakaina's Pancit Bihon ($6.95) is not one of them. The dish was an overcooked mound of gooey cellophane noodles, vegetables, and petite pieces of chicken and pork. And surprise, there were only three small prawns deftly buried underneath. We had only water and the bill total with tax and tip was $30.00

Now my “Watsonvillan” is going to come out. We like substantial volume as well as value to our meals. Kakaina better drop the “fine cuisine” attitude and go back to the true roots of home-style Filipino cooking. IMHO, a cloth napkin folded in half with a twist doesn’t make for a fine restaurant. Add to that the owner did not ONCE come back into the dining room and ask how the food was. Service was spotty, and when the bill did come, the server never bothered to come back for it. And at 6:00pm, with only four more people to serve, she was hardly under pressure.

When we walked out, the owner actually took time away from his TV to ask nonchalantly how the food tasted. Since I was bothered by the whole dining dismay, my dining companion chimed in unenthusiastically, “... it was....ummm...fine...” The owner then just turned away non-grata back to watching TV. Sheesh, or is that tres sheesh to you!

Kakaina Fil Cuisine
1983 Main Street
Watsonville, California
761-2970

** There are NO lunch specials, standard menu applies for both lunch and dinner. Appetizers range from $5.95 to $6.95. Entrees start at $9.95 to $15.95. Small selection of beer and wine.

Hours:
7:00 - 9:00am Breakfast
10:00am - 2:00pm Lunch
5:00-10:00pm Dinner (till 10:30pm weekends)

Aug 24, 2006
homeboy3 in California

IKEA-East Palo Alto

Making a trip up north to IKEA tommorrow (coming from Santa Cruz area). Last minute shopping decision.

Has anyone tried their breakfast? Also, just thumbing through their new catalog and lunch looks pretty good and the price seems right. Any feedback on either would be greatly appreciated.

Also, depending on if we decide to breakfast, what places within a 3 mi area would you recommend for a (late) LUNCH or (early) DINNER?

Thanks to all who reply.

Aug 22, 2006
homeboy3 in San Francisco Bay Area

King Buffet in Salinas

Thanks Melanie for your detailed spot on review.

Adding just a couple tidbits to her review - the place is huge! Definitely outranks its sister restaurant on the north side of town, but here size doesn't really make a difference.
The small steady stream of customers that were there on my last two visits didn't even put a dent in its cavernous dining room.

One more (imho) important bit, the place is clean--bus persons constantly picking up plates, cleaning tables and floors. The bathroom sparkled on every visit.

"Average" bargain dining that fills your tummy, yet light on the budget. Good post-movie place to chow down (Maya Cinemas are about 5 min drive away).

Not bad but for a bit more chump change go for Sakura.

King Buffet Lunch 11:00am-3:30pm; Dinner 3:30pm-9:30pm.

** 1⁄2 out of 5

Aug 19, 2006
homeboy3 in California