Monday, August 04, 2008
Driving into Fresno, I spoke with a number of friends who questioned my sanity in making it a stop along the way. Seems some consider it rather dull. I was rather excited about having an evening to myself in such a charming hotel as the Picadilly Inn (Shaw). The room was spacious, clean and looked even better than the photo. I was greeted in the room with some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. It's true that I originally planned to go up the coast and stay near the sea, but San Luis Obispo, Cambria, Paso Robles and environs were completely booked save for one $289 room. The $109 room in Fresno was just perfect for a quick overnight stay and back on the road, and nice enough to linger if that had been my plan.
I checked around for dinner ideas, and heard that the teppanyaki artists at Zipangu in Fresno are friendly to all, entertaining, and even 'wild and crazy'. That sounded good after a long hot drive through rather dry country.
Meet Fel, the epitome of 'wild and crazy', friendly and entertaining. The patrons also added to the evening's enjoyment, especially the dashing Edward and his two cute-as-a-button boys who shared their teppan table with me (Edward's friend who joined later was also quite charming).
The first course was a simple beef based broth. Light and flavorful, it was unexpectedly refreshing for the hot weather.
The simple salad dressed with miso was crisp and refreshing as well.
My appetizer then arrived, a California roll with tobiko. It was very good, and quite a bargain at $3.95.
And while we were enjoying our starters, Fel was whipping up some fried rice at lightening speed!
I went on a holiday from being pescatarian - the fried rice had bits of ham as well as shrimp and vegetables. (Not to mention the soup, and what's coming later in the post).
And we had the flaming and steaming onion volcano display as he cooked the zucchini, mushrooms and onions for one of our sides.
Now this should put to rest any belief that Fresno is boring. I know of no teppan house in the bay area (or elsewhere) that has a combo choice of ostrich and alligator on its teppan menu! See that red piece of meat on the plate? It's ostrich. Tender as a filet and delicious, it's poultry! It is local as well, being sourced just one town over. I actually had the scallops and ostrich combo, that had the accompaniments listed above, plus a plump shrimp appetizer and moyashi (mung bean sprouts). The bean sprouts had a tad more black pepper than I like, but they were still tasty. Zipanzu is located in a strip mall, and is well-lived in. If you are looking for an upscale, mod appearance, keep on going. If you are looking for friends, fun and an inventive and tasty menu, be sure to include a stop here on your next trip through central California.