Tonight we were attempting to see Lions for Lambs, Tom Cruise’s first movie since leaving Paramount, but it seemed that the freebie tickets were given out to too many people (fuck you to those that had a Pioneer Press e-mail instead of a real ticket) and as we were heading back out we passed the California Cafe which Kim decided to stop in to. It seems a little out of place both in menu and ambiance for the Mall of America but ducked inside regardless.
The place has a simple but fairly uncomfortable decor and layout. We sat near the front entrance and had the opportunity to observe the drunken, later than usual, happy hour crowd who had apparently decided not to go home after their 10th flavored martini. The rest of the restaurant was packed with drink toting poser tools who belonged certainly belonged dining at this poser trendy restaurant. We had the opportunity to overhear the wine-clouded conversation of two cheating douchebags talking about how good they would be together and then immediately talking about their spouses. Strange.
The waitress hovered over us while we looked at the menu and you know how I hate that… After she went away, came back, and we placed our selections it was only a matter of minutes before they arrived at the table. While I normally applaud fast service, the 5 minutes between ordering and plate delivery made me wonder just how much care went into preparing our dishes or if they weren’t pre-plated from someone else’s displeasure.
I ordered the Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke which included ginger, cilantro, soy syrup, daikon salad, and wonton chips and Kim went with their Generals Calamari which was doused in a sweet chili sauce over crispy rice noodles (styrofoam) and included a julienne cucumber salad.
My Ahi looked nice at first glance but with every bite I realized it looked more and more like canned cat food rather than a plate of anything edible. The flavor of the tuna was completely overpowered by the cilantro and ginger. I spent most of my time washing down the burn rather than enjoying the meal and while I’m all for spicy flavors that complement the meal, this was very much like I would expect the hottest wings at a sports bar to be — too hot. I didn’t bother with the wonton chips but Kim said they had almost no flavor which matched up perfectly with the tasteless daikon salad.
Kim’s calamari was appropriately named “General’s” probably due to its striking flavor resemblance to Americanized chinese food. She complained that the cucumber salad wasn’t nearly as good as the same treats available at Satay2Go and the bed of tasteless, white, curly near stryofoamish crispy rice noodles that this dish was placed on top of made Kim wonder if someone was going to run over and ask her not to eat them.
Overall, this is your typical mass produced attempt at a trendy menu in a restaurant that apparently prides itself in being replicated throughout large suburban shopping malls. I didn’t choose to go here and I certainly wouldn’t ever return and I don’t suggest any of you do either. If you’re looking to eat at the Mall of America, please do so at Tucci Benucch, at least there you’re likely to have a better meal and you might even avoid the douchebags.
See all the pictures from California Cafe here (mobile).