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Aug 2, 2007 11:36 AM

Coddingtown Mall Notes Santa Rosa

I swung by the mall for the first time the other night. Three restaurants are of Interest to me.
If anyone knows anything about these restaurants please contribute.

First up - Sakura:
Well if that Japanese Curry craving hits and you dont feel like making it at home- they list it on the menu. Some other intriguing dishes as well - including a full sukiyaki section.

2nd -- Fresh China:
This is the restaurant that sparked my interest in checking Coddingtown out. I believe homerandsatchi first mentioned it. THey have some really interesting beyond the norm menu choices - one that sticks out right now is the seaweed and pine nut fried rice among many others. I really want to try this place out - and they seem to emphasize organic ingredients and a really nice vegatarian menu.

3rd - TacoMex:
This little restaurant front was really a surprise. Owned by a man from Morelos - they have a great torta menu and even offer elotes, napolitano, pineapple tamales, napolitos tacos. We got to try him out.

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  1. I was admittedly a little harsh. When you first arrived up here, I said there were no good Chinese places, and someone corrected me and mentioned Fresh China. I'm too much of a Chinese food snob, I know, so here are some positive thoughts on Fresh China.

    Fresh China (so far) has the most authentic menu I've seen up here. The dishes don't hold a candle to my aunt's cooking or some of the great places in Monterey Park, but they actually do a pretty good job. I like that they try to be health conscious. I believe they use rice oil, and when I met the owner/chef, Peter, he says he tries to get as much of his produce organic when possible. He is the old owner/chef of China Room which would be my second choice for Chinese in Santa Rosa. I'm dying to go back and test some of Fresh China's noodle soups.

    1 Reply
    1. re: homerandsatchi

      Thanks for the info on Fresh China. China Room is my favorite in Santa Rosa, but now I'm looking forward to trying this one. How long have they been around?

    2. I've only been to one of the three: Sakura. I like it or hate it? First of all, I don't think you can really, with a straight face, call it Japanese cuisine. Perhaps it's "sushi-inspired" dining? Think, big portions with lots of mayo. With that said, there is something appealing about the place. (Well, it's probably the big portions and lots of mayo that I find appealing.) Sometimes I'm just not in the mood for subtle, delicate, delicious meals. Sometimes I want a McDonalds supersized version of Japanese food. And at times like that, Sakura hits the spot. Plus, it has got to be the kitschiest restaurant in town with lots of pinks and lights and Pokemon. Yet, it's rather endearing.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Inat

        You want to know something funny.... we had a place like Sakura in West L.A..... and it was constantly packed with Japanese students from UCLA... apparently these kitchy places with lots of mayo actually do exist in contemporary Japan.

      2. I have to agree that Sakura is more of a spectacle than a restaurant. I think I went about a year ago with some friends and high school and had some ridiculous lobster (I think. Was it crab? Shrimp?) roll covered in mayonnaise. I think it had some crunchy tempura bits as well. "Sushi-inspired" indeed. It's funny to see such a homey dish as Japanese curry on the menu there. That said, I think my love of curry will probably bring me there very soon.

        I haven't been to Fresh China as of yet. I went to the same space when it was Genghis Khan and thought it was fair but nothing to write home about. Looks like it very well might be under new ownership and worth a shot. I can't say that I eat very much Chinese food in Sonoma County so it'd be a nice change of pace. Anyone else craving a delicious dim sum restaurant to frequent every weekend?

        I don't think I've ever even seen TacoMex, much less eaten there, so thanks for pointing it out. Certainly sounds interesting.

        3 Replies
        1. re: LikeFrogButOOOH

          Maybe we should have a chowdown at fresh china?

          Also spelling mistake - its TacoMax

          1. re: kare_raisu

            Kare_Raisu, I am open to have as many Chowdowns as possible. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and fourth meal Chowdowns? Bring it.

          2. re: LikeFrogButOOOH

            LikeFrog, I would be amazingly happy if Sonoma county could produce a dim sum restaurant of good quality. My few dim sum experiences (a couple in SF and San Rafael) have left me pining for more, closer to home.

          3. I'm with Inat on the sumup of Sakura. "McDonalds supersized version of Japanese food" is a clever description of the place. I've eaten there maybe three or four times total, and while it's not on my top of my list of places in the county to get japanese food, or even just sushi, I would definitely pick it over that place in Montgomery Village that I can't remember the name of at the moment. Would be interested in trying the curry sometime though.

            I've eaten at Fresh China once, a few months after they opened and I wasn't super excited about what I had, but maybe I hadn't ordered the right thing? I'm trying to remember the dishes our group ordered, and I think they may have been some more generic saucy type Chinese/American things. Nothing was horrible, but I'm not remembering anything noteworthy. Would love to check out the "less normal" menu items at some point. I think a chowdown is a great idea.

            Haven't tried it inside the mall? Maybe the place across from Bath & Body Works...around that area? Maybe I will take a gander this weekend, as Coddingtown is just a ten minute bus ride away from my house.

            1. I did finally try Fresh China for a nearby school day lunch and I can say that I left pretty happy and satisfied.

              Most of the people seem to be fans of the lunchtime buffet - which I steered clear of. They even have a man manning the mongolian grill up front.

              I ordered basically what the Japanese have termed and I call: "Mabo Nasu."

              This is basically a stir fry of eggplant and fried tofu in a spicy sauce - like Ma Po Tofu except with eggplant replacing the ground pork. At Fresh China they finish the dish with basil - allowing for it to slightly wilt.

              What strange is - I cant really think of anything negative about my meal or experience there - which I anticipated doing. Its not going to knock your socks off - but for what it is and what its trying to do (Organic, free range, veg offerings etc) - I really like it.

              >This is what I thought was good:

              -Major points for the steaming hot food (perhaps crazy but I really like my food to be hot) soup, spring roll, and entree.

              - The fact they bring tea (cliched but I like it)
              - The waitresses are nice
              - Dessert is a baby bannana and fortune cookie!
              - The old school kind of dark chinese-american restaurant ambiance.

              The hot and sour soup - my favorite soup in the world - was spot on. I think they even used smoked tofu and I appreciated the assertiveness in hand of the white pepper (read: spicy). Fresh green onion and nice pieces of mushrooms.

              Spring roll - fresh hot crisp - whats not to like?

              Mabo Nasu: Simply well-done. Golden fried bite size tofu cubes - slightly spicy, smokey sauce - favorite part was the custardy eggplant pieces -wonderful.

              >>I am wondering if they will make any special dishes - this is because I noticed the Chinese script on my bill.

              2 Replies
              1. re: kare_raisu

                Thanks for taking a crack at it!

                Fresh China
                284 Coddingtown Ctr, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

                Sakura Japanese Restaurant
                300 Coddingtown Ctr, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

                Taco Max
                329 Coddingtown Ctr, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  I hope to hear your take if you are in the area and make it!