new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Chef Bo

Friday, June 22, 2007

Chef Bo

Chef Bo
2310 Fair Oaks Blvd
Ste A
Sacramento, CA 95825
(916) 568-6088

Chef Bo isn't exactly high-end, but they do serve Chinese dishes with a bit of bite here. You can get your gloppy chunks o' chicken in sauce here, for sure. But you can also get food with a bit more authenticity and a bit more soul if you ask real nicely and know what to order. (And are willing to explain yourself in mind numbing detail to the friendly guy taking down what you want.)

The menu is more interesting then most quick takie-outie Chinese joints. There's Singapore Noodles, ma po tofu, variants on Chinese long beans and greens, and some other interesting items that stretch the margins of the "deep fried lemon chicken" standard. Begin your meal with some of the Chinese pickles positioned in the cooler next to the drink fountain - they're crispy, refreshing, and a little bit spicy.

Our favorite item here is the basil chicken, which came in a hot pot before new ownership took over. We asked for it both none-deep fried and served in a hotpot like they used before - which was nice, although the rich, dark sauce achieved near molten levels of heat. But we asked for it!. The dark meat chicken took on a herby, molasses flavor from the basil sauce, and combined with onions, it's pretty delicious indeed. Just make sure to restrain yourself and hold back the chopsticks until the heat level goes down - third degree burns on the tongue can really cramp your style.

We also tried the un-fried garlic fish with bamboo shoots and mushrooms. This was okay - the accompanying vegetables were prepared well, but I found the sauce a little too sweet and gloppy for my personal taste. The worst part was the fish. It was obviously prefrozen and had that gross crumbly texture that instantly identifies low grade flash frozen cod. Yech. I avoided the fish and picked out the crunchy and sweet mushrooms and bamboo shoots instead.

Finally, we had the eggplant in garlic sauce, which was very nice indeed. It came with onions and black long mushrooms, cooked in an incendiary hot pot. The eggplant was falling apart and full of carbohydrate laden, rich goodness. The sauce was, again, a little too sweet, but the addition of plenty of muscular chili peppers lifted it out of insipid land and made it something to savor. Definitely recommended, especially if you're a vegetarian who wants something with more kick to it then yet another plate of arugula.

I've tried quite a few other things here before. The vegetarian chow mein is tasty and comes with a tremendous variety of (probably not so fresh) vegetables, and the serving size is monstorous. Prepare for leftovers. The chicken with green beans is bland and not so good, and it's fairly obvious the green beans were prefrozen - avoid. The scallion fried bread is tasty, but greasy as hell - de rigeur for that particular menu, item really.

Chef Bo doesn't exactly have any ambience, other then some hip back in the 80's paintings and suspiciously moody lighting. Still, service is reliably fast and the staff obviously wants to please you, which is always good. Chef Bo is definitely a good choice if you want quick and cheap Chinese food in the area that doesn't fall into the "amorphous glop" category. Just don't order any fish.

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