Cook’s Restaurant–Clovis, NM

Cook’s Restaurant
4700 Mabry Dr.
Clovis, NM
(575) 762-9423
Cooks Restaurant

Cook’s Restaurant


Probably the biggest factor that makes Cook’s Restaurant popular is the fact that it is open from 6:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. daily (and open 24 hours Thursday night through Saturday night-Sunday morning). This is a diner and truck stop located about halfway between Clovis and Texico, New Mexico, but is close enough to Clovis to be considered one of the city’s local hangouts.

When I entered the restaurant somewhat close to 10:00 P.M. (on a day they were open 24 hours) one side of the restaurant was filled almost to capacity (the other side is presumably open when they are even more busy such as at breakfast time). I did not make note of whether breakfast is only served during certain hours, but it seemed to be a large part of the food served here. In talking to the employees they indicated that some of the breakfast dishes were quite popular.

I also noted that over half of the late night crowd appeared to be eating Mexican food, so I naturally assumed this was one of the most popular items on the menu. They do have a large menu of American diner-style items, so I think there is something for everybody here.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

Having decided to order one of the Mexican dinners, I was given some chips and salsa which turned out to be excellent. The salsa was not on the spicy side but had a robust flavor that I would call New Mexican style (the chiles were fresh and seemed to be sourced from somewhere nearby).

Red Enchiladas

Red enchiladas

Red enchiladas

I do not remember the entire Mexican food menu, but the best options seemed to be a choice between red enchiladas or green. I chose the Red Enchiladas which were served with beans and rice (they said the green was not spicy). I noted on the menu that the dish came with “Red Chili” (the Americanized spelling of “chile”) so this was somewhat of a red flag, but is really the standard spelling I have seen in eastern New Mexico.

I really have mixed feelings about this dish because it was certainly not the best example of New Mexican food I have had, but it was New Mexican food nonetheless. The waitress said it was New Mexican red chile, and this was borne out when I tasted it. While New Mexican style enchiladas have either a red or green chile sauce, though, this was more of a gravy that was thick as if they put a filler in it. I have seen this style of New Mexican food before, most notably in Tucumcari, but it is a style of food I do not find very satisfying. There was enough chile “bite” in the dish, but I did not find the flavor to be very good.

The beans were good, but the rice was burned along the edge (about half of it was edible).

There was really nothing else open at that hour and I was glad to get a meal. Enough of it was good that I enjoyed the food (particularly the chips and salsa). For New Mexican food, though, I had a better experience at Leal’s (located a couple of miles west on the same highway but not open as late in the evening).


RATING: 17

Cuisine: American and Mexican New Mexican
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily (open 24 hrs. Thu.-Sat.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 30, 2017
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Chips, Salsa

Mexican Food Details

Chile Index: chile 3
Special Ratings
star 2 Red Enchiladas
star 5 Chips
star 5 Salsa

Family Pho–Weatherford, OK

Family Pho and Rolls (Closed)
1021 E. Davis Ave.
Weatherford, OK
Family Pho

Family Pho and Rolls


Family Pho and Rolls follows a popular trend in serving both Vietnamese food and sushi (at least the style of sushi that includes California rolls, etc.). Outside of a couple of Chinese restaurants I think this is the only Asian restaurant in Weatherford, so I think it makes sense for this restaurant to provide any other dishes they can that would be popular in this small college town.

While Chinese food tends to become more Americanized in smaller towns, Vietnamese food has tasted pretty much the same everywhere I have tried it (but the menu choices are more limited in small towns). This is good for me because I love what most Vietnamese restaurants are serving, and these tend to be reliable choices even where Chinese restaurants are not. Family Pho was exactly as I thought it would be–good food but with a rather small menu.

After my comments about Chinese restaurants I need to point out that I have liked the ones I have tried in Weatherford. My favorite place in town, Young China, has closed, but the people at Family Pho told me the owners have now opened the Hibachi Buffet.

Vermicelli Bowl

House vermicelli

House vermicelli

The type of dish I was wanting happened to coincide with what seemed to be the restaurant’s special dish, the House Vermicelli. This did not come with my normal choice of chicken, but the pork they served had a very good flavor and is another type of meat I like. It had the added benefit of an excellent spring roll. The fish sauce was very good, and I especially liked the chile sauce (which can be seen in the small bowl on the lower right side).

Two things I normally like in a vermicelli bowl were lacking–peanuts and mint. Everything else was good enough that it pretty much made up for these deficiencies (I can say for sure that the spring roll was more satisfying than the peanuts would have been). Overall this was definitely a very good vermicelli dish.

Tea
I was disappointed that they did not have any hot tea, but iced tea was available. I would say this made the restaurant somewhat Americanized, but the food was good and it did not have a great impact on the meal.

An Assessment
Everything I had was good, but the negative aspects were the things I was not able to have (peanuts, mint, hot tea, etc.). In spite of this I would not hesitate to come back. At restaurants I usually like to order things again that I enjoyed previously (in this case it is the House Vermicelli). They do have other types of vermicelli bowls, though, as well as other items (mainly the pho and rolls implied by their name).


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Vietnamese
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Mon.
Accessible: Yes, but maybe the sidewalk is a little steep
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 30, 2017
Number of Visits: 1
Best Item: House Vermicelli

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Iced Tea
MSG: No
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 House Vermicelli

 

Sushi Neko–Oklahoma City, OK

Sushi Neko
4318 N. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
(405) 528-8862
Sushi Neko

Sushi Neko


My review for Sushi Neko is in two parts due to making visits around 2005-2006, and again in 2017. In that time the menu changed, prices increased, and I felt that it had become more upscale (I think they just dropped some of the less expensive items from the menu). This is a fairly common trend with restaurants, and it seems to fit the neighborhood along North Western Avenue which is known for having some of the city’s most popular upscale restaurants.

Sushi Neko offers both sushi and grilled items, and in this respect has not changed since its early days. Musashi’s across the street (owned by the same people) has a different concept by putting on a knife show and cooking the food on a grill in front of your table, so there is a choice if you are looking for a Japanese-themed restaurant.

Rear entrance

Rear entrance to the restaurant

A change in the menu items was really the biggest difference I noticed between the early and later visits to Sushi Neko. Earlier I saw quite a bit of similarity between Sushi Neko and Tokyo Restaurant, offering a wide variety of cooked items that made them similar to West Coast Izakaya style restaurants. However, there now seems to be a distinct difference between these restaurants with Tokyo keeping its emphasis on both cooked items and sushi, while Sushi Neko has now streamlined its menu of cooked items and seems to have added more sushi items, particularly the popular “rolls” (such as California rolls).

I have not tried the standard sushi (nigiri, sashimi, etc.) recently, but on previous trips it was one of Oklahoma City’s best. The cooked food I tried was good on all of my trips.

Tea

Green tea

Green tea

The Green Tea was expensive and did not seem to have a corresponding special quality that elevated it above other green teas. It was very good, though, and they gave me a to-go drink in a very nice paper cup that I ended up using for the rest of the day (so I really got my money’s worth).

Appetizers

Edamame

Edamame

The Edamame was better than most I have had, but to me it was hard to justify paying extra for this when some restaurants (such as Tsubaki Sushi) give it to you free with the meal.

Miso

Miso

Miso

Miso comes free with the meal, and I wrote in my notes that it had a “thick and flavorful broth” (a rare enough occurrence at restaurants that it is noteworthy when I find it).

Sushi

Philadelphia roll

Philadelphia roll

The Philadelphia Roll I was able to sample was really quite good, and I won’t make any comments other than this was one of the better ones I have encountered.

Grilled Salmon

Grilled salmon

Grilled salmon

I came here expecting the salmon teriyaki I had ordered on a previous visit, but found that it is no longer on the menu. Instead I was able to order Grilled Salmon from the lunch menu which was somewhat comparable because it came with a glaze that was a good substitute for the teriyaki sauce. I thought the salmon here was probably more impressive than at Tokyo (where I usually like to get salmon teriyaki) and the presentation was very nice (I especially liked the bok choy). This was quite a good lunch although a little expensive compared to places that serve teriyaki salmon (such as Tokyo).

Overall Assessment
The salmon was really so much better than at most other restaurants I thought it was well worth paying a higher price for it. At the same time, though, I cannot afford this often so I treat this restaurant as a “special occasion” place (there was really not very much on the menu that would be any less expensive).

The thing I missed, though, was the “box lunch” concept they have at restaurants such as Tokyo where the lunch comes with side items such as a salad, tempura, or gyoza.

The service was good here, and I was glad I was able to experience the “new” Sushi Neko.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Japanese
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 29, 2017
Number of Visits: 3
Best Items: Grilled Salmon, Miso

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Green (brewed)
MSG: No
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Grilled Salmon
star 5 Miso
star 4 Philadelphia Roll

 

Das Boot Camp–Norman, OK

Das Boot Camp
229 E. Main St.
Norman, OK
(405) 701-3748
Das Boot Camp

Das Boot Camp


The official name of this restaurant is Das Boot Camp Restaurant & Bar, and I think the key part of it is the “Bar.” When I visited late at night on the way back from Dallas it was one of the few restaurants in town that was even open, and they were running a special on large servings of beer in a boot shaped glass (they could not have been making a huge profit from the prices charged for the beer but it seemed to also get people in to try the food).

For most people (in Oklahoma, at least) it does not take much persuasion to get them to order some good German food, and of course it is a natural to go with beer. Das Boot Camp happens to be an outgrowth of Royal Bavaria, a standard dinner style restaurant in Moore, and the German food at these restaurants is well known as being the real deal. The menu at Das Boot Camp is scaled down from the larger restaurant, and is more of a bar menu, but there are still enough choices for a full meal.

When I went to Das Boot Camp I did not have a huge appetite and I was not looking for the type of full meal that is served at Royal Bavaria, so for me Das Boot Camp was perfect.

Schnitzel

Wiener Schnitzel

Wiener Schnitzel

Wiener Schnitzel was one of the six or so items that are served as dinner items (the rest are sandwiches, soup, appetizers, etc., although they also have bratwurst plates). I thought that this was as good as any schnitzel I have had in Oklahoma, with good meat and a good breading.

The more disappointing part of the meal was the spätzle (I have had others with a better flavor). I ended up ordering fries, the side that normally comes with the schnitzel (they substituted the spatzle for me), which I thought went better with the dish. Overall this was a very satisfying meal and still at a good price.

Other Comments
If you go to Royal Bavaria instead of here you will have other dinner choices such as Hähnchenbrust and cordon bleu. Das Boot Camp advertises that all of their items are under $10, so you just get basic German food here (although it is the same as Royal Bavaria in terms of being authentic).

I think one of the biggest advantages of going to Royal Bavaria is in the side dishes. Royal Bavaria has items such as Bavarian potato salad which I thought was excellent (and may be the same as the potato salad served at Das Boot Camp), but the large menu at Royal Bavaria makes me fairly certain that whatever you want you would be able to get there.

I need to try more items at both restaurants to make a fuller comparison, but it seems that the main difference between the two restaurants is that Royal Bavaria Restaurant has a larger menu with more expensive and fancier items.

Das Boot Camp definitely serves my basic needs for German food, though.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: German
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily (food served until 11 PM)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 28, 2017

Number of Visits: 1

Best Item: Wiener Schnitzel

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Wiener Schnitzel
star 4 Spätzle

Jeng Chi–Richardson, TX

Jeng Chi
400 N. Greenville Ave.
Richardson, TX
(972) 669-9094
Jeng Chi

Jeng Chi


When I have a great experience at a restaurant a lot of it has to do with ordering the right items. Before going to Jeng Chi I read numerous reviews recommending the xiao long bao (steamed dumplings with soup inside), and I also know that there are a very limited number of restaurants in the United States that serve them. I had already tried them at Kirin Court, located a few blocks away in Richardson, and this just encouraged me even more that another experience would be worthwhile.

Chinatown strip mall

Part of the “Chinatown” strip mall in Richardson

If I were not on this particular mission it would be quite difficult to even choose Jeng Chi as a destination. It is located in the “Chinatown” strip mall which is filled with Asian restaurants and shops, quite a few of which also have cuisines which are as hard to find as the one served at Jeng Chi (xiao long bao is known as Shanghai cuisine although Jeng Chi’s web site says the restaurant has authentic food from Taiwan and mainland China).

The block long shopping center does have an air of authenticity in which you are unlikely to find any Americanized food, but rather a mixture of traditional foods from various parts of China and other Asian countries. Internet reviews also indicate that this is the case, but of course I hope I get the chance to confirm this on subsequent trips.

I happened to arrive at Jeng Chi at just about the only time it is not open–between 2:45 and 4:00 P.M. every day (but of course this means they are open the rest of the time every day). Although closed they let me sit in the lobby and relax while waiting for service to resume, and I will have to say that for me it was worth the wait to eat here. The combination of having outstanding food, prices that were commensurate but not inflated, and the right portion sizes gave me no regret that I passed up the other nearby restaurants.

Tea

Churshe jasmine tea

Chur she jasmine tea

Before ordering the food I was asked to make a decision about a drink. This is because some of them take a while to prepare, but also they have some very special teas such as the Chur She Jasmine Tea I ordered. This was prepared in an infuser, and even with additional hot water it maintained its flavor. A wide variety of other drinks are available including tea, beer, and wine.

Xiao Long Bao

Xiao long bao

Xiao long bao

Xiao Long Bao is the unofficial specialty of the restaurant, and I say this only because so many people have reviewed it. Listed on the menu as “small juicy steamed dumplings” (which come in an order of 8), these are different than many others because they have soup inside. I thought they lived up to the hype, partly because they give you a ginger dipping sauce that adds to the flavor. They also instructed me about how to use the plastic spoon to trap any juice which spills from the dumpling so that none of it is lost.

One comment I would make is that they actually serve seven types of “Juicy and Steamed Dumplings,” as well as a large selection of boiled dumplings. A group of people could order several of them to sample, but I think it is hard to go wrong with the one I ordered.

Pork with Garlic Sauce

Pork with garlic sauce

Pork with garlic sauce

I am sometimes known to go overboard on ordering food when I am in a place that has especially good choices, such as Jeng Chi. By ordering the Pork with Garlic Sauce, though I felt that this along with the dumplings was not really too much food if I considered it to be the main meal of the day (which it was). In any case, I got an unexpected taste experience which in some ways was equal to the dumplings.

Pork with garlic sauce is a somewhat standard dish that I order in many restaurants, but this one was different in that it had a red color. When I asked about this they said it was because of the chile (which is mixed into the sauce). It was quite strange because it looked like the red sweet and sour sauce found in many restaurants, but the complexity of the flavor in this dish placed it far from the ordinary experience of getting something with a red sauce. The chile level was about four out of five, and the meat was very good quality in keeping with everything else I experienced.

Additional Comments
I had a large enough sample of the food to make me think that this is not a restaurant that specializes only in one dish, but rather I believe everything is good. This is how I think Chinese restaurants should be, so that I am free to order according to my appetite rather than choosing among the few items they do well.

The dumplings lived up to my expectations, but the pork with garlic sauce was also the best presentation of this dish I have found in any restaurant. This might not have been the traditional Chengdu version of the dish, but it was so good that for all I know it may be totally authentic (but just not a way that other restaurants do it). The balance of garlic, ginger, and other flavors, though, did seem very authentic to me even though visually it was different from any others I had tried.

The dining room

The dining room

The restaurant is very comfortable and fairly upscale, although I was happy that the prices seemed to be at the level that you are only paying for the food and not the atmosphere.

One reason I liked the restaurant is that they explained everything, such as how to eat the dumplings, etc. They have a seasonal menu and probably items that are not on the menu (I did not ask about this but I am very sure they will work with you to get the type of food you want).

As of the date of publication of this article I am giving Jeng Chi the highest rating of any Chinese restaurant on my blog. This is not necessarily because I think it has the best Chinese food I have ever had, but because this excellent food is combined with ease of ordering and prices that do not make it for special occasions only. I think many Chinese restaurant have excellent dishes, but this is one place where I think most people can actually find them and know what they are ordering.


RATING: 28

Cuisine: Chinese
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, Wine

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 28, 2017
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Xiao Long Bao, Pork with Garlic Sauce

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Jasmine (brewed)
MSG: N/A
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Xiao Long Bao
star 5 Pork with Garlic Sauce

 

Sam’s Southern Eatery–Bossier City, LA

Sam’s Southern Eatery
2910 Barksdale Blvd.
Bossier City, LA
(318) 658-9980
Sam's Southern Eatery

Sam’s Southern Eatery


Sam’s Southern Eatery is a chain of Cajun style restaurants based in Shreveport, and which consistently shows up on restaurant review sites as a readers’ favorite. There are several locations in the Shreveport area, and they appear to be individually owned although linked to the chain through the supply of shrimp they receive as well as following the same recipes for cooking the food.

One feature pointed out to me that made this location unique was its sale of freshly made home made cakes. The regular menu appears to be the same at all Sam’s locations, although I did notice some differences between this restaurant and the one I had previously tried in Oklahoma City (the OKC restaurant served fried rolls and this one did not).

When I went to this location in the evening hours it had already run out of some items. They had run out of red beans and rice, and they initially said they were out of gumbo but then said I could have the gumbo but they were out of the rice that went with it (I gladly accepted this offer).

Gumbo

Gumbo

Gumbo without rice

The Gumbo was my main order, and it was a very good one. They were out of the rice that usually came with the order, but I thought the gumbo was very good anyway. The flavor of the roux was really a lot better than the one I had tried in Oklahoma City, although the shrimp and other ingredients were about the same at both restaurants. This was not the largest size gumbo they had, but was nevertheless filling if you ate it with side dishes.

Fried Shrimp

Fried shrimp

Medium sized order of fried shrimp

The sign on the front of the restaurant says “Home of the Jumbo Shrimp,” and this is to be taken seriously. I think these are actually prawns, but in any case this order of eight shrimp really seems to be enough for three people although two of us with great effort managed to eat it (and enjoy it very much).

My dining companion ate the side dishes, and they were reported to be very good as I have found them to be in the Oklahoma City Sam’s.

Cake

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

This location features home made cakes made by a third party, with about eight or ten varieties available. The restaurant recommended peanut butter and reviews also indicate this is one people particularly like, but I thought the chocolate I ordered was quite satisfying (you probably can’t go wrong with any of the flavors).

General Comments
This was not the absolute best fried shrimp I have ever had, but it was close, and I can see why it is the featured dish of the restaurant. Keep in mind, though, that the pieces are quite big. In my mind about three or four pieces per person is about right if you eat it with side dishes or a small gumbo.

The gumbo is what I enjoyed the most, though. I feel that it is a special treat to get gumbo as good as the one here, and ones with comparable flavor are not available in most parts of the country.


RATING: 23

Cuisine: Cajun
Cost: $$
Hours: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM (closed Sun.)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Nov. 27, 2017

Number of Visits: 1

Best Items: Gumbo, Fried Shrimp

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Fried Shrimp
star 5 Gumbo
star 5 Chocolate Cake