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Shovel Time: Tex Wasabi’s

twoshovelIs it wrong that when the idea of visiting cousins in and around Santa Rosa with my sister came up, my first thought was Guy Fieri? Santa Rosa is where he got his start, if you didn’t know, and the site of two classic Fieri restaurants: Johnny Garlic’s (1996) and Tex Wasabi’s (2003). A familial indifference to pasta led to choosing the latter.

In fact, we purposely picked a hotel (The Courtyard by Marriott Courtyard, not the fancier Hyatt Vineyard Creek across the street) walking distance from the town’s main drag so we could incorporate Russian River Brewing’s all-day Sunday happy hour into this itinerary (that kicked off with a Fieri-esque 1,000-plus-calorie cinnamon roll french toast at Shari’s). In NYC, drinking and driving has never been a consideration (or even in the ’90s when I was a West Coaster and owned a car) so sibling influence can be a smart thing.

russian rivery brewing salvation

So, after just one high alcohol ale at the brewery (too mobbed), another two less distinctive pints at Third Street Aleworks at down the street, and an inexplicable pomegranate martini at an Irish pub, I was in the proper Tex Wasabi’s mindset by the time our 8pm reservation rolled around.

The action appeared to be at the bar where a gong intermittently signaled that someone had ordered a “bowla,” a 64-ounce beverage such as a Herry Berry or County Fair, not to be confused with the Kraft Kocktails. I sampled neither. To ensure the optimal mix of poorly chosen alcohol, and really make the most of this no driving in the suburbs thing, we opted for a bottle of inexpensive Malbec. I would be lying if I said I fully remembered the food.

tex wasabi's rockin' lava shrimp

There was Rockin’ Lava Shrimp, which was not wildly unlike Bonefish Grill’s (my favorite chain) signature Bang Bang Shrimp, battered, fried shrimp, coated in a spicy sauce, but with a little more flair. I will concede that the golden wheels of lotus root were a nice touch.

tex wasabi's house salad

The house salad gets Wasabi’d through the addition of edamame, fried wonton strips and a wasabi (duh) vinaigrette. There was no counterbalancing the beers and cinnamon roll french toast, but one can try.

tex wasabi's sushi duo

Of course there was sushi. Sadly, no “gringo sushi,” or anything from the Tex perspective i.e. items containing barbecued meats, were sampled. The Tootsie Roll, left, is more or less a tempura’d roll with bagel fillings (smoked salmon, cream cheese, green onion) glazed with a sweet unagi sauce. I have absolutely no idea what’s on the right but I’m pretty sure it was also fried in some capacity.

tex wasabi's mud pie

A mud pie, Oreos on the bottom, Cocoa Puffs on the top, just made sense as a meal-ender, despite nothing Tex nor Wasabi about it. When was the last time you had rocky road ice cream? Actually, the more fitting question might be whither tin roof sundae?

Nothing eaten was terribly offensive, which seems about right for a city whose claim to fame is a Charles M. Shulz museum.  Santa Rosa is not Times Square; no tourists were tricked, no New Yorkers insulted. I only had myself–and a willing family member–to blame.

Tex Wasabi’s * 515 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, CA

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