Monday, October 12, 2009

Jazz Cat Cafe-Alhambra

Exterior
(My attempt at heavily editing an image (for me at least) in Photoshop. Do you like it?)

I was really hoping to write a positive and glowing review of this place. All of my previous experiences at Jazz Cat when it first opened were memorable and most certainly delicious. Large portions and interesting food. Cook by yourself tableside shabu-shabu that came with fishcake was a highlight to me and others. Curry and egg omelet rice which I ordered due to the Dotch Cooking Show was served in a large plate and was exceedingly delicious. We returned several times, but pretty much forgot about the place after a nighttime experience there where we had to wait for a long time. Driving to Alhambra was already pretty far. Waiting for a long time for food...not a great idea!

However, I and a dining companion decided to eat here after passing by on a drive back home. Why not Jazz Cat? After all, I've talked about Face Cafe twice already (and will do a large update the next post after the next, which is Tasty Garden). Plus I need to try more restaurants for more variety on the blog. After parking in the back (limited parking spaces!)... we stepped into Jazz Cat's doors.

Interior

Yes, it was just like as it was years ago. Posh black tables, leather seats, and a red and black color scheme. Plenty of cat inspired drawings all over the place. Also, jazz and bossa nova music pumping through the speakers. There was one thing missing however: PEOPLE. Where were the crowds?

Anyway, we then received a menu from a very friendly and professional male server, and looked around. The menu had changed significantly. It had gone down in choices and options. Now there were pretty much four main items to choose from: a donburi, udon pot, tomato and corn rice with a item, and garlic butter rice with a item. Not a very big selection. Plus, the prices were not very cheap either-7.50 for one of the rice items is more than the competition.

The drinks also now came without a cute piece of circular red rubber on the bottom to put your glass on. Rubber to a napkin would have been fine to me. But rubber to nothing is a significant change for what this place is like!

Anyway, we ordered minutes later, and then a small salad arrived for each of us.

Free Salad

A very simple salad indeed, consisting of canned corn, crunchy and icy iceberg lettuce, and a creamy mayo like dressing (but it was translucent looking...). The combination of the ingredients was scrumptious, but the dressing was very questionable. What was it?

We drank more ice water for the time being, which actually did not have a big tap water taste at all to it. It tasted more like filtered water. After a while, our items arrived.

Japanese Eel/ Tomato Corn Egg Rice

My companion ordered the egg omelet tomato and corn rice with Japanese eel (unagi), which also came with some dried bonito fish flakes and green onions. As you can see, the presentation was simple and pretty. The eel was pretty lean and thin in terms of thickness, but otherwise it was like any other roasted eel you would get from a fast food place. The tomato and corn rice was boring and bland- it was pretty much fatty rice mixed with canned corn and tomato paste or ketchup. Most certainly the dish was a interesting combination for flavors, but for me, it did not really work. The tomato and the eel did not blend together well and instead felt like they should have eaten separately. Overall, nice plating, but otherwise not that great.

Apple Curry Pork Chop/ Garlic Butter Egg Rice
(Whoops...did a mistake with these two pictures. Do you notice it?)

I ordered the Garlic Butter omelet rice with apple curry and pork chop. This again was also a small serving, especially compared to my first visit. At my first visit, the rice for this dish (with the exception of the rice being simply steamed rice) covered the whole plate- a large mound like what you would find at May Mei. Now is what you see. Similar to my companion's dish, this was unusual, especially the pork chop. Not only did it look like it was some processed meat, it also was really hard to eat, being extra tough and hard to chew. The batter and the meat were separated from each other easily. Again, not good!

However, the apple curry was nice. A nice hint of sweetness to go with the thick curry which was also probably from a box.

This combination worked out actually better compared to the tomato and eel. The garlic rice was not very tasty by itself (it did not taste like fresh garlic but rather like garlic powder/garlic salt), but when everything was combined together the curry overpowered the rice flavors slightly, thus making it okay. However, the quality of the pork chop and the curry made me not too happy about the dish.

Overall, I am not very happy about the way Jazz Cat Cafe is now. I do hope however that their new location in San Gabriel, will be better. A new space brings new opportunities, and I want to see differences from this experience.

Again, as I have said before, it saddens me when I see food that looks great but does not taste great. And plus, Jazz Cat Cafe also had decent service and a good atmosphere. Jazz Cat pretty much had all the bases for a good restaurant. However, the food was simply lacking in quality, and when a restaurant asks someone to pay 7+ dollars for a entree, it should not taste like processed or pre-made food.

Jazz Cat Cafe
640 W Valley Blvd

Alhambra, CA 91803
(626) 293-8999

Jazz Cat Cafe on Urbanspoon

7 comments:

joanh said...

haha.. that dressing does look questionable.

foodbin said...

the rice looks ok. did the apple curry complemented the pork chop and egg?

EatTravelEat said...

joanh,
I still wonder what it is today! It tasted like what some Thai restaurants serve, but this was not creamy yellow, but translucent.

foodbin,
Yes it did for the most part, but the pork chop did not blend as well as it was so hard to eat together with everything else as it was so tough.

Alice said...

Too bad about the food. The photos look great though! What's the mistake with the photos of the omelette rice?

EatTravelEat said...

Alice,
The mistake is the white spot which separates the two photos- it was supposed to be grey like the left part of the photo.

Mochachocolata Rita said...

ghehehe i just noticed the blurry effect here :)

i love the idea of omelet rice with garlic butter instead of tomato. and i agree with you...the idea of roasted eel eaten with tomato rice omelet...hmm not exactly right.

tell me...how do you steam your fish? (i could always use a new idea)

EatTravelEat said...

Mochachocolata Rita,
Hehe...no real new idea. Pretty much it is always ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and scallions/cilantro. We sometimes steam it with some additional items like tomato, tofu, or mushroom, but that is it. I don't have many new ideas, sorry :(.