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Fresh China -- Santa Rosa

Posted Oct 01 2008 9:06pm
It's unusual for me to eat in restaurants often but when I do, it seems to happen in threes. My first local visit was to Fresh China restaurant at Coddingtown Mall in Santa Rosa. I met my veg friend Barbara there since they have a special vegetarian menu (which you won't get unless you ask for it). There wasn't much veg on the regular menu but the veg menu had so many choices that it took us a while to decide what to eat.

Barbara doesn't like spicy food so that ruled out many dishes that I would have usually ordered since we like to share, especially when eating Chinese food. We finally settled on Shiitake Mushrooms and Tofu in ginger sauce and Seasonal Vegetables with Coconut Curry Sauce and a bowl of brown and wild rice.

Having just made a pot of brown and wild rice earlier in the week I realized that many restaurants make a lot of money on selling rice at $2.50 a bowl but we wanted some anyway.

The dishes arrived at our table quickly, served in rather odd plates which were deep dish pyrex pie plates (the one that I use most at home when making fruit crisp or baked tofu). Everything seemed fresh except the rehydrated dried shiitake mushrooms and there were lots of them. The portions were large. We ate as much as we could and still had about half of each dish left over.

Something didn't seem right about the food and it took me a while to figure it out. The presentation was sorely lacking -- not only in the dish department but in the lack of color and shape in entrees themselves. The shiitakes were served whole which not only made them difficult to eat but they didn't look at all interesting. There wasn't one bit of green in that dish. It was brown and white. Imagine what a strip or two of green onion would have accomplished. The seaonal veggies were not especially seasonal since they included both asparagus and winter squash. There was far too much sauce on that for it to be attractive as it was bright yellow and gloppy. And again, there wasn't any color. I mean since it is summer a few slices of red pepper could have added both color, taste and some seasonality. On a scale of 1 to 10 forks, I'd give Fresh China a 7. I might try it again but it will be a while.
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