Review: Koyomi

Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value:3/5
Times Visited: Twice  ♦   Will I Return?:  Yes Please
___________

New sushi place in town? I’m there. What’s different about Koyomi? Well, maybe not a whole lot. But I like it anyway.

Koyomi is located in a tiny strip mall that borders the sidewalk in Castro Valley across the street from the mini golf place. It’s got a nice big sign; you can’t miss it. And inside they’ve really made it look slick. Hardwood floors, comfy chairs, big screen tvs above the bar, and… double crown molding around the perimeter of the top of the walls. You read correctly. Double. This place is serious.

dining room

Inside Koyomi Sushi in Castro Valley.

Between the classy Frank Sinatra playing in the background and the new picture-friendly menus, I really like this place. The menu is pretty standard for a sushi place offering appetizers, sushi/sashimi, combinations, udon noodle dishes, full dinners, and a variety of sushi rolls. The service is great and the food is pretty dang good as well. The first time I came here, I enjoyed a sushi/sashimi plate that was quite good. We also shared a pan fried calamari just like the ones we enjoyed in Japan. Boyfriend enjoyed the squid immensely, but I thought it was a bit too bland and a bit too tough; it didn’t stand its ground against its Japanese counterparts.

sashimi platter

Sashimi plate from Koyomi.

… 

Read More »

Review: Dell Cafe

Atmosphere: 2/5   ♦   Service: 2/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value:5/5
Times Visited: Once  ♦   Will I Return?:  Why not
___________

Dell CafeIt’s Saturday. You want breakfast. Unfortunately, you’re in or around Hayward. Where to go? There are a few choices. I’m not a personal fan of the chain restaurants, so rule out your Denny’s and IHOPs right away. The next steps up are your Emil Villa’s, JD’s, Main Street Diners and Doug’s. Unbeknownst to me, Dell Cafe is also around for your breakfast eating pleasure.

Dell Cafe can be found at 2637 Castro Valley Boulevard, just after the mini golf place but before Redwood Road. I don’t actually think I’ve noticed it before. We passed it trying to find it. But, Yelpers like the place and I wanted a waffle. And hence we arrived at Dell.

This place is a diner. Actually, it’s more like a Diner. Old school style, capital “D” Diner. It’s small with a dozen or more patent leather booths, cheap varnished wood-veneered tables and two rows of counter seating that meet at a corner right as you walk in.

Dell Cafe

Inside Dell Cafe.

… 

Read More »

Review: JD’s

Update: This restaurant has closed.

Atmosphere: 2/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited:  A Few   ♦   Will I Return?:  Likely
___________

JD'sJD’s can be found at 2837 Castro Valley Boulevard in (yep) Castro Valley, just next to the Chabot Theater. It’s true that we don’t have a large variety of good breakfast places around the mid-east Bay, but JD’s is as close as I’ve come to filling this niche.

Historically, I’ve always liked breakfast. In recent years, however, I find that a full egg, hash brown and toast meal makes me feel a bit queasy. Hence, I don’t patronize the breakfast foods, especially at restaurants, nearly as often as I used to. Regardless, if you’re looking for breakfast out on a lazy Sunday, JD’s isn’t a bad place to go…. 

Read More »

Review: Genghix

Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 5/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  Three   ♦   Will I Return?:  Wish I could go every night.
___________

Genghix front doorDo you remember the Genghis Khan Kitchen in Castro Valley? Just near the corner of Redwood Road and CVB in the Lucky’s (then Albertson’s, then Lucky’s again) shopping center? Yeah, I do too. I had a bad feeling about that place for some reason, though I never went. Three years ago the owners of Genghis apparently decided they needed a change. Enter Genghix, the bad-ass older brother of Genghis*…. 

Read More »

Review: El Rancho Taqueria

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 2/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited:  Once   ♦   Will I Return?:  Probably not
___________

El Rancho SupermercadoEl Rancho Taqueria is a countertop-conveyorbelt-style setup along one edge of the El Rancho Supermercado across from Trader Joe’s on Redwood Road in Castro Valley.  What I mean is that it’s a Subway Sandwiches sort of deal with one long glass-protected counter where you order and watch as the cooks assemble your order in front of you.  You then make your way down the length of the counter and pay at the end.  When we went the other day, there was a line of a few people in front of us and the service was sloooow…. 

Read More »

Review: Katsu Restaurant

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 5/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  Once   ♦   Will I Return?:  Yes please
___________

Katsu RestaurantKatsu is a tiny, unassuming restaurant in the increasingly decrepit Lucky’s shopping center across the boulevard from Castro Village.  I probably would have never seen it, so I’m glad my uncle recommended it to me.  I’m glad to have finally found another Japanese restaurant near my house that’s worth going to.

At first I was slightly alarmed – Katsu was by no means booming on a Saturday night.  You can’t see in very well from the outside due to drawn blinds, but it looked like no one was in there when we pulled up.  That wasn’t true, there were half a dozen tables filled, but it was by no means full.  … 

Read More »

Review: Top Thai

Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 5/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  Once   ♦   Will I Return?:  Yep
___________

I honestly don’t know of too many Thai places in the Hayward/Castro Valley area, so when my dad took us to Top Thai on Castro Valley Boulevard, I was intrigued.  There may indeed be many Thai places around, I just don’t know about them.  I’ve been to one place on Foothill in Hayward years ago, but I can’t really even think up the location of any others.  But no matter, Top Thai certainly fills the void.

TT is in a tiny, unassuming, single story building across from the ridiculously huge and sort-of-awful Rite Aid at the eastern end of CVB in Castro Valley.  I probably would have never noticed it, and even if I did, it doesn’t look terribly enticing from the outside.  One step inside the doors, however, and the scenery is transformed.  … 

Read More »

Review: Pyzano’s Pizzeria

Update: Pyzano’s is now closed.

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited: A Few  ♦   Will I Return?: Probably
___________

Pyzano’s has somewhat of a cult following in the Hayward/Castro Valley area, and it always has.  I’m not sure when this place opened up, but it’s not a chain and it’s owned by 9 Time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani, who has tossed pizzas with the likes of Jay Leno, Oprah, Emeril, and all over the Food Network.  He’s apparently quite good.

But with all this hype came a bit of a letdown for me.  I haven’t been to Pyzano’s in years and forgot that the atmosphere of the place is just your run of the mill pizza joint.  But the prices aren’t – you’re paying for gourmet here for sure.   I thought (read: was hoping) that with all the fancy pizza twirling, there’d be something more than order-at-the-counter, standard-leather-booths-and-rickety-tables, serve-yourself-soda-machine, and grocery-store-floor-tiling.  Seriously, I thought they might have put some effort into posh, above-and-beyond decor, and maybe even table service.  Apparently that’s not their style – moving on…. 

Read More »

Review: Don Jose’s

Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 5/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited: Lots   ♦   Will I Return?: Yes
___________

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…. 

Read More »

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.
___________

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 … 

Read More »