Review: Mountain Mike’s Pizza

Atmosphere: 2/5   ♦   Service: 1/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited: Once   ♦   Will I Return?: Probably will do “to go” next time
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Mountain Mike’s is a franchise – but most pizza places are nowadays, it seems.  Though MM’s appears to have dozens of locations throughout the state and a few scattered stores reaching into neighboring states, I don’t really ever remember having Mountain Mike’s particular brand of pizza pie before.

Let’s face it, it’s not one of the massive chains with corner shops on every block.  And I’m not sure if they’ve had a lot of growth recently, or if there just haven’t been any MM’s in my immediate vicinity until now, or if I’m just completely blind, but there seems to be a few around now.  And now that I’ve had a Mountain Mike’s pizza, I may take notice when one of the stores is quietly tucked into the strip mall where I’m buying pot holders or popsicle sticks.

Empty Mountain Mike’s in Hayward.

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Review: Naked Fish

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited: One   ♦   Will I Return?: Probably
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This tiny shop on Jackson Street in Hayward (in the Safeway shopping center) looks very unassuming from the outside.  I’m not sure if I would have ever gone in if my mom hadn’t recommended it (and if I didn’t have this blog).  But mom speaks highly of the food, so we gave it a try.

The atmosphere inside is surprisingly nice.  It’s nothing super special, really, but it’s quaint and clean and has a theme that isn’t just “unpainted walls”.  The menu selection was extensive, creative, and well-organized, and it took me some time to decide between the dishes.  I chose the Naked Fish Don which is teriyaki white fish and tempura veggies over rice, while boyfriend had a bento box of salmon teriyaki and California rolls…. 

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Review: Don Jose’s

Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 5/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited: Lots   ♦   Will I Return?: Yes
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Don Jose’s is an age old Castro Valley delight.  It’s been here since before I was, proudly heading up the ever-changing lineup at Castro Village shopping center on Castro Valley Boulevard in, yes, Castro Valley.  I’ve been frequenting DJ’s since I was a kid on-and-off with my family.  It’s a solid restaurant, and my most recent visit has left me intrigued and wanting more.

The shopping center where Don Jose’s is located houses dozens of shops and restaurants.  And though I often overlook the rest of this area, relying only on DJ’s and Loard’s, there actually appears to be some other interesting restaurants sharing the space, and I hope to try the good-looking Indian place next time around…. 

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Review: Hs Lordships

Atmosphere: 5/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited: One   ♦   Will I Return?: I’d be happy to
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Hs Lordships is an enormous restaurant and banquet facility out on the Berkeley marina, situated happily on a tiny sliver of land next to the Berkeley pier and surrounded by water on three sides with views of the City, the bridges, and Berkeley.  Their main deal is a surf and turf sort of situation, but during this visit I didn’t even lay eyes on the menu for one moment.  That’s right, we went for the Lunch Buffet.

This place has a lunch buffet to end all lunch buffets.  According to my family, the place is usually really quiet on weekdays, despite the amazing spread of food available Monday through Friday for an extremely reasonable price ($17 or so a person).  The day we went, however, must have been “work Christmas party” day or something because the place was packed.  There must have been hundreds of people in the restaurant, parked in front of their white tablecloths in packs of 4, 6, 10, and 20.  It was a bit of a madhouse.  And like amateurs, my party of six walks in with no reservations at 12 noon…. 

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Review: Yanagi

Atmosphere: 5/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 5/5   ♦   Value: 5/5
Times Visited: Lots, but first time in this location   ♦   Will I Return?: Most certainly.
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This branch of Yanagi can be found on Dublin Boulevard in Dublin, far from the center of trade for the rest of the restaurants in this small chain.  We were first introduced to Yanagi in San Luis Obispo, where my boyfriend and I went to college.  Yanagi is our favorite restaurant in SLO and we make a b-line for the front doors every time we visit.  To our delight, the Dublin location left us just as happy as our much beloved Central Coast counterpart.

I’ll cut right to it – the best part of Yanagi is the menu.  This place is first class in so many ways, but it really shines through when you open the giant leather bound book to select your dinner of choice.  Firstly, the menu is huge.  I don’t just mean for selection (which is also plentiful), I mean physically huge – the thing is a monster.  You know they’re serious when they hand you a menu that weighs more than the chair you’re sitting on.  Next, there are pictures of each dish on the menu.  Not crappy, unappetizing pictures, but real, professional, make-you-want-to-order-one-of-everything pictures.  Everything looks fabulous, and, having tried nearly everything, I can tell you that pretty much all of it is.

The epic menu at Yanagi.

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Ratings

So, what’s all this business with the ratings on every post?  Excellent question, fair reader, not that you asked.  I’ve made the executive decision to add a “rating summary” to the top of each post to give you the low-down on what I thought of my dining experience overall.  They go a bit like this:

Atmosphere is all about the feel of the place. I’m pretty forgiving, so I’m not looking for white table cloths and “yes madam” waiters.  I like clean, I like nice, but most of all I think the atmosphere should match the vibe of the food, the clientele, and the surrounding area.  Run down or wacky can work well in certain places…. 

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Review: Tacos Uruapan

Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 5/5   ♦   Value: 5/5
Times Visited: One   ♦   Will I Return?: Almost went back for dinner.
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My dad tells me that Tacos Uruapan, on the corner of Industrial Parkway and Huntwood Avenue in Hayward, used to be just a little taco stand.  For years, it was just one of those vans stationed on the same corner where the restaurant is now, selling tacos and other delicious treats all day long.  Apparently they were more than a bit popular.

And I see why.  Their food is delicious.  I never patronized the place when it was solely a taco stand, and, frankly, taco stands in general turn me off so I may never have gathered the courage.  But, according to their website, they finally saved the money to build a full-blown restaurant after almost 20 years working just out of the taco truck.  And it appears that the place is flourishing…. 

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Review: Loard’s Ice Cream

Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 5/5   ♦   Food Quality: 5/5   ♦   Value: 5/5
Times Visited: Lots   ♦   Will I Return?: Have to restrain from going every day.
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Cue heavenly sounding boys choir.  (Halleluja…)

Loard’s is an Establishment as far as I’m concerned. Capital “E” and everything.  The decorations are from a decade when my parents roamed the play yards (and I mean that they were children, not just really creepy adults) – pink and white stripes installed with enough vigor and enthusiasm to last a century.  And boy do I hope it does.

I have frequented this shop pretty much since I was a kid but became especially attached after obtaining my driver’s license and being miraculously allowed to chauffeur myself down for a sundae anytime I darn well pleased.

Pink stripes aside, Loard’s ice cream is legendary.  It is deliciously creamy and the choice of flavors is unrivaled … 

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