Tuesday, April 29, 2008

interview with China B.!

I've posted about yelp before. I have a love/hate relationship with it. There are only a few reviewers whose reviews I always look forward to, and China B. is one of them. Her yelps are charmingly written, and usually very kind and cheerful. I love how much emphasis she places on a smiling face, and that she even refers to Vinh Phat as being the kind of store that smiles at you as you enter (as well as dishing some juicy info about the former owner not paying for protection). The little bits of personal information that she includes made me curious about the person writing the reviews, so I yelp messaged her and asked if I could interview her for heckasac. She characteristically kindly answered all my questions. Here they are:

How did you choose the name “China B.”?
The name came about because for some odd reason most people who think they know oriental will call me Chinese. Or the ever famous “Hey China.” A lifetime of glaring at them doesn’t help so I just decided one sunny day to go ahead and take the name China in my handle. “B” stands for – TO BE MYSELF. No matter how much parent pressure or peer pressure I was always myself. I wanted to put 2b or not 2b on my license plate.

Where is your favorite pho spot? Why is it your favorite?
The Pho is something that Vietnamese love. They eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if they could. The Pho Broth is the making of a great soup. With this in mind I enjoy the Pho soups at SAIGON and CU’DO. Both places are great to eat at. But if you want a good old country Vietnamese experience with style it’s Cu’do. The owner is always smiling and trying to make everything run smooth.

With my mom being Vietnamese I was introduced to the soup in my mid teen years when San Jose was spring up with all the Vietnamese places. My first bowl was like biting into ambrosia. The meat was just getting cooked from the broth and the juice from the soup. There was no other word to describe pho when it’s done right.

I notice that you place a great emphasis on décor and service. How important to you is service in proportion to other aspects of the meal? What is the key to good service?
The décor of an establishment is like art. If you think on it. The art of the food is going to be served to you. The tables and chairs leave a little to want if it’s just plain Jane style. The need to see and branch your mind out as you wait for the meal helps emphasis the texture of the experience. Somewhat like an art critic. Some places give you eye candy to look at as you wait. It helps you relax in honesty.

Service is a most. I was a hostess and waitress once. The idea of being able to give service beyond the call of duty. The people are waiting and you want to give the, a good experience. When I go to a restaurant I don’t think it’s too hard to keep the water glasses and beverages are full. If there is anything we might want the waitress should be able to get that without any trouble or hassle.

There are two waitresses that I have ever encountered that were there on cue. The little waitress at Thai Basil. She was there when or before my eyes watered with glasses of water. She was all smiles when I didn’t know if I wanted this or that and she was patience. I enjoyed her conversations about what we were trying and what we weren’t trying. She made the experience at a new experience all that much more educational.

The other lady was at Chili’s in Elk Grove. She was able to attend the patron at the bar and at her tables. She had sodas, teas, waters and condiments all ready. She did this when the All Star Shoot Off was being broadcast with the televisions on. She was the best with smiles and laughter.

Good service is some what hard to explain but I shall take a stab at it. Good service is a hostess/waitress with a great smile, helpful attitude and giving ways.

Unlike most yelpers, you mostly seem to write positive reviews, and you rarely use your yelp reviews as a way to chastise any restaurants. If you were very, very displeased with an establishment would you ever write a harsh review?

I have indeed done a negative one on Old Soul. I am in Special Education and teach students that are from run down or inner city places. With this in mind I scout places that would be a new experience. I want it to be a positive experience.

The first time I went there the server (ended up being one of the owners) waited on us. He looked so perturb to help us. Like he had a lot of other things to do. The lady in front of me knew him and she tried to talk to him. He seemed to brush her off with a smile and grimace. When it was my turn. It was awful. He seem to look at us like what are you doing here.

I went home and blasted him in YELP. Original I read the Yelp reviews about the place and thought it was a great place to take my students. Especial the urn with money in it.

I wanted my students to learn that no matter what you look like, dress and or act you can go into places like that. I HAVE TAUGHT MY MENTEES AND STUDENTS THAT IF YOU HAVE CLEAN CLOTHES, GOOD MANNERS AND A POSTIVE ATTITUTE WHEN YOU GO INTO PLACES. People will see that in you. That you are human and can be treated as equal.

One of the Yelpers was friends with the owners. She blasted me about how much one of the guys volunteered doing things. I blasted back until he spends hours volunteering in Oak Park or Meadowview teaching the children that they have a chance in the world she should think on what she wrote. I fight for the children. It’s the way I have been all my life.

I did take the review off after a year almost. But still will never bring the children there. I did also returned and bought a gourmet chef with me this time. He wasn’t as impress as I thought he would be. But he said it had charm.

I think your reviews are very poetically written. Do you view writing as a hobby, and do you write other things besides your yelp reviews?
I write all the time. I can write dreams fantasies, erotic fantasies and stories, poetry and long letters. I have been writing since I was able to make literature in my mind.. I’ve been playing catch up after I learned the language structure.

How long have you lived in Sacramento? Have you lived anywhere else? What do you like and dislike about living in Sacramento
I’ve been in Sacramento since I was four. My father was dying of heart failure and at the time UCD was the leading hospital on heart surgery. My dad wasn’t ready to live. They gave him the option to stop smoking and drinking after the surgery that they recommended.

I spent twenty-five years of my life in the Elmhurst tress of Coloma Center Community area. The quiet neighborhood where everyone seems to know one another and watch out for one another.

Then I moved to Elder Glen. That was like moving into the area of South Central. I am now used to the gun shoots in the night. The police helicopter going over and announcing everyone stay in your house or the detail of the suspect.

I don’t even blink an eye as the DEA team ran sack the house next to my mother-in-law as I pick up my daughter.

What neighborhood do you live in?
Elder Glen,. South Sacramento

You also have a love of hamburgers. Which place is your favorite?
When you have children hamburgers is sometimes the nearest places to eat with some calmness. In honesty I miss the hamburgers I grew up with. The ones you can see the juice run out of the patty as it’s sits on the bun. Suzi’s and Willie’s are my favorite as of now because of the atmosphere they both provide.

You seem to have quite a sweet tooth, where do you go to buy your favorite sweets?
I have a sweet tooth? Non? Yes, I do. I love chocolate. But chocolate doesn’t love me. Sometimes you will find me in Old Sacramento debating which one decadence piece of chocolate I should purchase on this outing. I love chocolate like everyone else but the chocolate I eat doesn’t like me. My students know when I have had too much chocolate. I break out. They tease me unmercifully at times.

My second best sweet is the yummy taffy. Salt Water taffy is the best. I purchase it at Kobaics. He’s great. I didn’t realize what went into a candy maker. He has some great stories and I spend time listening to him. He also makes candy.

Do you enjoy cooking?
I enjoy cooking. It’s my hobby. There are days I need to distress and you can find me in the kitchen when I get out of work until 9 that night cooking. It’s a great feeling to lose the day’s activity as you cook. I can have four burners going on entrees and main dishes. My little daughter now helps with the desserts. She makes the cakes and brownies. My youngest son is learning to cook with me. He’s very good at times making dishes with his grandma supervising. Cooking is a family thing and it brings us together.

On rainy days you will find me cooking. It’s a good smell that comes from the kitchen on those days. Like a memory. I hope I am making memories as I cook for my family and friends.

I loved your review of Hoa Viet, in which you wrote a breakdown of various Vietnamese dishes. I can’t wait to go there and try their Ca’m tam, which I had never heard of before. This isn’t a question, I guess, just praise.
I wish more people would do that . I find it extremely helpful.

Where do you think is the best place to eat with children?
I like places I know of well. Where they know you and your children. Many a times I am at Luigi’s with the children. Sal has been there forever. I used to watch him toss the crust in the air through the window when I was very young,. They know me and my family. A few video games and a pinball game keeps the children occupied.

Chili’s is good if it’s a quick in and sit down and eat. But sometimes my youngest daughter gets ainst. So I try to find places where she can go ahead and drive me nuts. I like Taste of China for that because the children can get what they want when they want.

Where is your favorite place to get sushi?
I love sushi. I was introduced to it three years ago. The best place so far is Drama. The cost is outrageous if you don’t watch out. It’s well worth it though.

The other place that is great is Nara in Elk Grove. I enjoy those two the best. The décor at Nara is great. It’s great for children too.

Monday, April 28, 2008


I went by Osaka Ya friday after work cuz I've been craving mochi and I noticed that there is a crazy flower patch on 10th and V that is currently off the chain. One of the best around town.
Man, the mochi from Osaka Ya cannot be beat as far as soft texture. Imported mochi is a joke compared to that. Here's an entertaining tip for you: mochi is not really a big hit at a party. I ended up eating three of the ten pieces. Too much.
At Osaka Ya, they had a bucket of pulpy stuff that said free: Okara. The young man working the counter said that Okara is a side product of making tofu (my Japanese cookbook referred to it as tofu lees). He said that his dad fries it with a squeeze of lemon, and maybe some mushrooms or something. He gave me a big bag and I fried it with ginger and scallion, and put it over rice. It is quite dry and powdery and soaked up all the oil immediately and began to stick to my skillet. The texture is the best part, which is what the kid said also. It's fibrous. In fact, it is quite healthy because it's high in fiber and protein. Give it a try sometime, I think they might sell it at Oto's, too.
Saturday night was the Mantles show at the Witch Dome, and I was surprised to find that the Proles were playing. I never saw them in they heyday and didn't know they were still around. They were good! Who knew? Very britpop supergrass.
Here's Mike, a serious rocker, rocking seriously.
Matt-stop smoking! Here's a cameo from Alex of the Ganglians. They played for his birthday party, but he didn't really watch them play.
Virginia, a serious drummer, drumming seriously.
Look how happy Heckamax is? You know why? Cuz the Mantles were great!
Here's a rare picture of the Mantles letting their guard down and just having fun. This is one serious group.

Friday, April 25, 2008

St. Hope?

Bites is hammering on this K.J. showering with teenagers thing again, and rightly so, but it makes me a little queasy to write about it. I'm no high-minded moralist. I'd rather focus on issues that would affect the kind of mayor he'd be. Don't some of you readers have personal experiences with St. Hope, and if I'm not mistaken, unfavorable impressions of K.J.? If so, here's a good anonymous forum to air them.

weekend haps

The Sic Alps tour is cancelled cuz the drummer broke his wrist. However, the show is still going on at the DAM house tomorrow with Mayyors and Crash Normal. And maybe other peeps? There's some house party action tomorrow with the Mantles, too at the Witchdome? I thought it was at a different house. There's also a show at Delta with the Standard Tribesman and others.

Tonight the Weatherstone is doing their BBQ thing, I think I'm gonna go to that. I hope it's not a mob scene. But I'll fight to get my piece of chicken. Also, MRM's birthday step party.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

sniff and quaff

Michele, who writes wonderfully about wine for Midtown Monthly, has just launched a wine blog! I buy most of my wine from her recommendations, so if you are interested in unique, scintillating, and intriguing wines, check it! It's also linked to the right.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Wow, my yoga class(ha I just accidentally wrote practice first) really worked me last night. I don't know if I can make it to Zuda tonight. Why does it have to be hot yoga? My teacher last night said it's "Baron Baptiste style" power yoga. I have heard this guy name dropped before by personal trainer types. I'm sceptical. Or am I skeptical? how do you spell that?

Tonight there is a possibly interesting wine tasting at 58 degrees. The wines of Lucien Albrecht, a winemaker from Alsace. Better than their usual tastings of like foothills zins or whatever. Also, the SN&R is having a release party at Bows and Arrows where there will be FREE FOOD. From Old Soul.

I got my new Via mag and eagerly tore it a new one last night. There's a weird story about midtown in it. The bad? The phrase cow town is used in the first sentence. People (such as the lady from L Urban Wine Euro Lounge) say things like Sacramento needed to "grow up". I thought I was grown up even before her two bit operation rolled into town! I know, getting quoted can be lame, and sometimes people lead you into saying things that confirm their pre-decided angle. The good: Olivia gets quoted a couple of times. The Waterboy gets a shout out. The weird: out of the six places it mentions to eat, three of them are burger places, and the three they pick are Suzie Burger, Fords, and Willies. None of which would be among the three burger places in Sac I would pick to mention.

Are you ready for some poor photography? Here's a shot of all the prep for the goi cuon I made the other day. It was a lot of prep. I made the daikon and carrot pickles, which I think really need like a day to sit in the vinegar. How do I know? By the next day they had that signature, half rotten, turnipy funky smell. In fact, it was the first thing I smelled in the morning when I opened the fridge. Kinda nauseating in the morning.
Here's the aftermath. Not the most beautiful rolls, but I'm learning!
I spent some quality time at Otos last night, which is more fun for me than going to a movie. I bought a rice steamer, but I'm such a cheapskate I balked at one of the pricey robotic models that do everything except clean your house. I had bad dreams all night about buying a substandard model.
Oh yeah, here's the best thing in the world, no big deal. No, not my chest (which is compressed into a sports bra, btw, it's usually more impressive-yes I did yoga in this shirt) it's a homemade tie dye with an awesome bob marley sketch on the front. Boom!
And here's some greens I randomly picked out, which turned out to be Japanese mustard greens or California peppergrass according to the internet. I didn't know what to do with it, so I steamed it, and it was grassy and good.

Monday, April 21, 2008

forced snark, never! sincerity, forever

Wow, you guys are great. Even when I have a totally boring post you reward me with comments.

I didn't go to picnic day. I couldn't face going back to Davis! But speaking of Davis, I just wrote a letter to Ken Widmann at the News and Review telling him I really like his weekly column about Davis. That guy is a good writer. Even when he writes a Seinfeld-esque nothing column (like about there not be any pay phones) it's still worth a read. And without forced snark!

My new culinary craze (well, one of them, one will be revealed in my June column) is making Vietnamese spring rolls. Am I correct in calling them Goi Cuon? Is Cuon the rice wrap part? I'm trying to pick up more Vietnamese culinary terms to decode things easier. Not the fried kind, the salad-y fresh kind. You've probably all made them before, but I never had until recently and it's so fun and delicious. I put in lots of fresh mint and cilantro, and rather than making a peanut sauce, I made up some Nuoc Cham. I made a batch and used it twice over a couple of days, and it just got hotter over time. Here's a recipe. I've been using my mortar and pestle a bit more often recently, and that's fun, too.

Lost is back on thursday! I might try a class at Zuda Yoga on wednesday! Sic Alps show on saturday! Mike R. Mike's birthday appoacheth!

Friday, April 18, 2008


The internet is not offering me any amusement today, so I guess I will have to manufacture my own.

Hmm...biking in Sac. Not to be a nattering nabob of negativism (I have had that phrase stuck in my head lately), but do you all agree that it's getting worse? I guess some of the two ways and wider bike lanes have made it better but in general it's just an insane hassle getting from point A to B on a bike.

These new bike rack thingys have gotten some attention around town. I used one the other day at as a locking apparatus it was ok. It's kinda form over function but it works. There are really a lot of poorly designed bike racks out there in the world.
I guess this one is kinda the best we can hope for?
This one is one of the worst kind. These kind of bike racks are installed by people who pretend that we live in a nice world where no one would steal your bike if you lock it by the tire. There are ones like this outside of Records on K on Broadway.
Same with these two below, although at least there are two spots on the end that you can actually secure your bike to. That bottom one is like the one outside Tower theater, one of my most hated bike racks ever! It's great to hoist my old heavy bike up over the top and try to lock it while simultaneously balancing it on the pole.

wow, entertaining?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

picnic day

Do you guys know about picnic day? It's on saturday. I've never been, but there are a ton of intriguing sounding things going on, such as weiner dog races and bands playing all over the place. I'm going to go this year, but because it's in Davis, I'm worried about parking. I'm thinking maybe I will take my bike on the train?

There are a couple of events coming up in Dixon soon. Are you like me, in that every year you remember Pin A Go Go as being in June, so you miss it every year? Well, it's in May. May16th-18th, specifically. Also, the Dixon May fair is in early May, but they haven't updated their website so I don't have much more information. ZZ Top and the B-52s are playing on different days this year, and there's a demolition derby, too.

OK, and it's not until may 31st, but a very exciting show is coming up. This Irish pop band called So Cow (give a listen to their songs on myspace, super good), No Bunny (see youtube video above) and English Singles at the DAM house! Great!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Did you guys catch this item buried at the end of Bites about Kevin Johnson meeting with Sac's gay and lesbian community and saying that he thinks marriage is between a man and a woman? That's lame! I hope he gets grilled about this during his campaign. Sacramento is a gay-friendly town and we need a gay friendly mayor.
And let's not forget this super weird story. This is a lengthy article that still fails to shed a lot of light on the whole showering with a teen thing. The impression I walked away with is that he is one weird dude.

Monday, April 14, 2008

halloween show

Wow, man, what a long strange weekend it's been. I ate too many gooballs before the show and I ended up barricading myself in my room on friday night and not coming out until this morning just in time to make it to work. I won't bore you with the details of the visions I had, I'll just tell you that they were a major bummer. So I missed the Halloween show, but my friend, Sunshine Daydream made it. She looks a lot like me only she's really irritating, so you may have noticed her. She took pictures for me.

Here's Linda Rondstadt and her lovely backing band and singers.

Next up were Hall and Oates.

Here's the hardworking backing band. Is that the doodah man there on the left? Nah, I don't think he had arrived yet.
They performed there hearts out, but the set was sadly cut short because of Daryl's (I just had to google which is which) chronic Lyme disease. Tragic.
Next up was Carol King. I wonder what James Taylor is saying right now. Probably something assy.

I would think that picture was cute if I didn't know what an asshole James Taylor is.
The doodah man introduced Toto, who were a surprise hit. Well, they were a surprise to me, because I didn't realize how many grammy winning songs they had

When Toto was done, I wished that I had a grammy, so that I could award it to them.
There's the mischevious doodah man. He probably just secretly dosed someone at the show

Next up: The Doobies. Dooby is one of my least favorite words ever. Here's Michael McDonald.
And here's uh, the other guys in the Doobie Brothers.
What's the doodah man up to now? He probably just blew that guys mind.
Here's the band we were all waiting for, The Grateful Dead. For the set, the doodah man somehow magically transported us all the the Pyramids. Thanks Doodah man!
Here's Jer Bear. Looking good.
True story, this doodah man picture somehow uploaded to this post three times.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Vote for Heather Fargo

Last night I read the cover story on Kevin Johson in Sactown mag and I would like to clear my throat and make this announcement...I am formally endorsing Heather Fargo for mayor. Jeez, KJ is scary as hell. I'd rather have a known evil.

I have to say that I enjoyed reading the Sactown a lot, and it took me almost 40 minutes to get through the whole thing. And that comes on the heels of last months issue with the really good Jackie Greene article. I still hate the fawning letters from d-bags, but if that' s the kind of letters they get... I loved that spread with all the photos of people who got married on Valentine's Day at City Hall. That's fluff, for sure, but it's the good kind of fun, eye candy fluff, not the cringey kind of fluff like "six degrees of sacto" or "off the menu". I liked the article on the local newscaster who helped found the m.i.n.d institute, and I totally agree with their last page about how we need a top-floor restaurant. I like that last page feature in general. They often have good ideas.

The KJ article had no objectivity whatsoever and it's super obvious that's who they're endorsing, but given their vision for Sac that's no surprise. The food coverage this month seems like even more of an afterthought. It's so far back in the mag that I started to think they had eliminated it, and Lark Park covers sweets for the second month in a row.

Liv Moe's show is super good. Make sure you stop by Sac State to check it out. Those of you familiar with mikermike's old chair will be amused to see it woven with synthetic hair looking like some kind of shlumping half-alive creature. Is shlump even a word? It is now, I guess.

Oh yeah, Old Soul is having their bbq thingy again at the Weatherstone this friday. You probably want to show up close to 5 to get food, I'm sure it will sell out again.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

ask a mexican to go away

Liv Moe is having a reception for her solo show at Sac State tonight, from 6-9 If you can't make that, she's doing it again next thursday.

I can't tell you how bummed I was to see that the cessation of the "Ask a Mexican" column in the SNR was an April Fools Day joke. It's back. It's terrible. It's repetitive. It's not funny.

I can't find it right now, but did anybody catch that cartoon of Kevin Johnson and Heather Fargo boxing from last weeks SNR? There was a joke about Heckasac in it that even I didn't get.

Oh yeah, the Bananas are playing at the Bottom of the Hill tonight. Last show before they leave for their big world tour.

sandra dees

Man, I forgot to bring the Dead handbook today to scan pictures and get quotes. Maybe that will be the friday treat. Or if Scott is going home at lunch, he could call me with a good quote? Something that will help us marinate our minds?

Yesterday I had lunch at Sandra Dees. It was the first time I had been there in years. I was surprised by how good it was. I ordered the chicken sandwich and it was really tender and intensely smoky tasting. The sauce was a little sweet for me, and the roll was wonderbread quality, but the quality of the side of red beans and rice made up for that. It was really spicy and delicious. I sampled a bunch of other peoples dishes and I think I ordered the best thing. The ribs were dry and the pork sandwich wasn't very smoky. I'm going to Nashville next month and this visit got me excited to eat a lot of bbq there. Meat and three!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

two more choice quotes from the deadhead handbook

"My initiation came in the Winter of 72 in Wichita, Kansas. Strong grass and live dead put me into a stoned trance. Staring at Garcia, something popped in my mind as I realized that he was also staring at me. I beamed a huge, uncontollable grin at him. He winked back and jerked his guitar neck at me twice. I felt bolts of energy strike me and my grin was fixed in place for the rest of the concert. I've been a deadhead every since. My mother will never understand."

And if you're wondering what kind of reception we should strive to give to the Dead this saturday, here's another one:

I've been to a lot of concerts, a whole lot of concerts, thousands of concerts, concerts with new bands, concerts with old favorites, festivals with hundreds of thousands of people in the audience, but when those house lights went off, I heard something I've never heard in my life. It wasn't so much that the ovation was a loud ovation. It was very loud to be sure, but it was this TONE. There was a sound in the yell the crowd gave that was unmistakeable. The sound of pure unadulterated, unfettered Love. Shameless and fierce. Pouring out endlessly in one unbroken roar. And it was, no kidding, the most moving sound I've ever heard in my life. I will remember it until the day I die. Such affection!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

let the music marinate your mind

Heckasac will now be switching to an all Grateful Dead format to get everyone prepared for the Halloween show. There are a lot of great videos to choose from, but I chose this one for today because Pigpen sings and because it illustrates how they can take a soul classic and render it into a toothless jam.

It's funny how many Deadheads will claim they were at the show at the Pyramids. I'm skeptical. Weren't there only a few hundred there?

If you're wondering what the right state of mind is for the show, here's a quote from a 1978 letter from a Deadhead to the band, as reprinted in the Grateful Dead handbook:

"The Atlanta concert was the first time I ever let the music make love to me, caress my body and stroke my soul; the first time the music let me crawl into and explore all its sides; dive in it, leap out of it, swim around in it; then use it as a catapult to a starlit sky where electric neon angelfish fly by night and the music marinates your mind till there is none of you left at all...and you're free to scamper the universe."

Monday, April 07, 2008

spring break 2008, puzzles, whales, and bigfoot

First off, I am not accepting any blame or credit for any of the Sammies nominations. I was just following orders.

Here's some video of the Bananas performing their new hit single "Radioaction" at the Stickerguy anniversary bash. They rocked it, and Scared of Chaka was also amazing! I never saw them back in the day. No Bunny did their thing well, but I didn't like the Spits very much. They have a big, boneheaded sound. Like caveman rock. I prefer my rock more intellectual.

Then I went to Big Sur, which Henry Miller and I agree is the face of the world as God intended it. The first day I was perfectly happy to sit on a rock for three hours and watch the sun go down. That's the view from inside my parka. There were porpoises, sea otters, sea lions, gray whales, jellyfish, and more. Not bad.
This was the Stiping spot near our campsite.

Proud and majestic fern.

After Big Sur we stayed Felton. The Bigfoot Meseum in Felton was pretty darn sweet. Don't get that guy talking about bigfoot, though. He'll talk your ear off!
Eerie view in the Santa Cruz mountains. There's a Bavarian restaurant in Felton that I HIGHLY recommend, called the Tyrolean Inn. Fresh German brau and sauerbrauten. Yum! And the servers wear the boob shelf things.
After that we stayed in a house on the beach in Santa Cruz. There was a lot of puzzling. Ceviche was made from a perch caught from the sea! It was really one of the best things ever.

More puzzling. This puzzle was no "tender ministrations", but it wasn't bad.

This blog post took me an eternity to put together. Jeez!