I went in with no appointment at about 4:30pm and was greeted immediately by a friendly tech (Edwin, I think) who took my info down right away, gave me the $20 internet coupon discount with no hassle when I mentioned it, and got me in and out of there in under 20 minutes. They even have a waiting room with refreshments and a large screen TV. Couldn't have asked for a better experience for a smog check.
I took Big Jim's BBQ class just a week ago and had a great time. I was lucky enough to receive a coupon from a family member for a discounted rate for Christmas and wanted to bring a friend, so they were nice enough to extend my friend the discounted rate as well. At first I thought this might mean they were desperate for students to fill out the class, but when I saw how many people were in attendance upon our arrival (including couples and several other women - not just a good ol' boy class) and the fact that the classes routinely sell out, I realized that they certainly didn't need the business, it was just good customer service on their part.
The class was pretty full and we arrived just before it started, so we had to sit in the back, but still had no problems hearing what was being said. Jim was also good about holding things up and bringing things around to show everyone up close what he was discussing. The class focuses quite a bit on smoking techniques, which was good because I consider myself a pretty good cook on a grill, but have almost no experience smoking foods. During the class, he demonstrated his techniques for preparing Kansas City Style Brisket (first time I've ever had it, but will be having it again soon!), pulled pork, chicken, salmon, pineapple, and of course some amazing pork spare ribs. They also provided a tri-tip lunch with sides, which almost seemed like overkill for the amount of food we had already consumed and still had more to eat after lunch.
This is a good class for beginners as well as more seasoned grillers. Jim makes it understandable for even novice BBQ cooks, but doesn't spend too much time going over the very basics unless someone asks a question, in which case he is happy to explain whatever. There is no pressure to buy anything during or after class, and you will definitely not leave hungry. He also explains how you can duplicate his results on home charcoal or gas grills, so you can prepare these dishes yourself without having to spend $$$ on a new grill or smoker.
Jim and his staff kept things moving along so everything was covered but still ended on time. You will want to bring a note pad and pen to take notes, as he goes over a LOT of techniques. I also recommend bringing a cooler to enjoy a cold beverage with lunch. Then make sure your schedule is clear on your next few free days, because I am sure you will be fired up to go out and do some BBQing yourself!
Absolutely and consistently first-rate sushi!
I am a big Sushi fan and have been to most sushi bars in the north bay, but have never found any other place that is as consistently great as Samurai. Jun and his wife are extremely friendly and welcoming and the place is not usually too crowded. I love that the fish is always super fresh and the quality of the nigiri is perfect. Some places will give you a huge wad of rice and thin piece of fish, or vice versa, or the whole thing is just too big or small, but the nigiri at Samurai is always perfectly sized and proportioned. I love the hot towels when you sit down to wipe your hands, along with whatever complimentary salad they are serving at the time. It was Japanese cucumber salad last time, which is my favorite!
They serve all the "normal" stuff, with specials all the time. I like the rolls too, but the nigiri is hard to pass up. Try the BBQ Hamachi nigiri if you want something a little different, it is incredible! If I had only one complaint about the place, it is that they are not open for lunch.
If you love Sushi, you owe it to yourself to try this place if you're in the area. By far the best sushi around, with the possible exception of Sushi-ran, but you won't need to sell a kidney to afford your meal at Samurai!
This is great chinese food. We live nearby and were excited to see a local chinese restaurant that we could frequent when we moved in, but the restaurant was under different ownership then and the food was mediocre at BEST. We didn't go back for a while, but we recently discovered that the restaurant changed hands and decided to try it again. The quality has improved dramatically! We have eaten there 3 times now and loved it every time. The honey walnut prawns are excellent as is the house chow mein, but our favorite has to be the szechuan chicken. Excellent!
If you haven't been here in a while, I recommend giving it another shot, you will be pleasantly surprised.