San Francisco-based Pacific Catch opened its sixth location at the end of March in Mountain View — and its largest restaurant to date.
Located at The Village at San Antonio Center, it’s a pretty, airy restaurant with plenty of outdoor seating, plus roomy booths in the dining room that’s decorated on theme with fish prints, a cascading water wall and light fixtures that look like they’re fabricated from delicate Japanese paper.
Partners Aaron Noveshen and Keith Cox opened the first Pacific Catch on Chestnut Street in San Francisco in 2003. This spring, they also brought on board David Gingrass as executive chef. Gingrass, who cooked with Wolfgang Puck and once had the lauded Hawthorne Lane restaurant in San Francisco, has streamlined and upgraded operations, according to the general manager. Still to come, Gingrass will be putting his stamp on the menu with some new dishes.
A few weeks ago, I had a chance to check out the current menu when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.
The restaurant is proud of its crafted cocktails including the Spicy Pacific ($7), which I tried at the manager’s suggestion. It’s a golden blend of Svedka vodka, passion fruit and Serrano chilies. It starts out fruity and refreshing, then the kick of heat kicks in at the end, warming the throat all the way down. It should come with a warning, as you can’t help but take one sip then reach for another and another.
As you peruse the menu, a little dish of edamame — conveniently already removed from their pods — arrives with goldfish pretzels.
Having just returned from a trip to Hawaii, I was still jonesing for poke, which is not easy to find on the mainland. At Pacific Catch, it’s one of their specialties. Seven types are offered at $12 each. Or you can pick three in a sampler trio for $19.
We went with the trio: White tuna with slivers of raw tuna tossed with yuzu, Fresno chilies, white soy sauce and red onions, probably the mildest tasting of the bunch. The lomi lomi of salmon, tomatoes, sweet onion, cilantro and red chilies, which had a real lushness. And my favorite of the three, the Original Poke, nicely firm cubes of sushi-grade ahi dressed with assertive sesame oil and soy sauce with a hint of spice.
Pacific Fresh serves sushi, but only in over-sized rolls, most of which either feature a tempura item inside or the entire roll being fried. If you’re wanting traditional sushi where the fish is the star, this is not the place. If you’re after more California-style rolls with a lot going on, this is the place for you.
We tried the Ecstasy roll ($12.50), filled with albacore, ahi, tobiko, avocado and green onion, all rolled in nori, then lightly tempura-fried. There’s no rice in this roll. But it does come doused with an abundance of citrus chili glaze that rather overtakes the fish.
My husband decided on the Mixed Catch Basket of Fish & Chips ($14.50). Two pieces of white fish, three coconut-battered shrimp and three fried oysters come with sesame slaw, Thai chili sauce, jalapeno tartar sauce, and your choice of fries (my husband chose a mix of regular and sweet potato). It all arrives whimsically on a plate lined with the front page from the “Honolulu Tribune.”
Unfortunately, all of it was pretty limp, too — the worst case scenario for any fish & chips plate. Not even the fries were all that crisp.
I fared far better with my Korean Barbecue Rice Bowl ($15.50). You can choose white or brown rice. And since each bowl comes with an abundant 2 cups of rice, you are even allowed to swap out half of the rice for crisp salad greens if you don’t want a carb overload.
That’s what I did, getting a bed of half brown rice and half romaine leaves with my choice of skewered shrimp (a generous 12 shrimp in total) glazed with a sweet Korean sauce. It’s all topped with a small mound of slightly spicy green onion panchan, julienned cucumbers, daikon sprouts, shredded nori, and a flurry of fluffy shreds of egg omelet.
I love all-in-one bowl meals like this, where there’s a range of textures and tastes the further you dig in. I could easily eat this once a week and be quite contented.
For dessert, we shared a special of mango upside down cake ($7) with swirls of caramel sauce and a huge ball of coconut ice cream that looked like a boulder sitting precariously on top. The cake was tender and moist, and the snowball of ice cream perhaps not so outsized after all, since we managed to finish most of it.
More Mountain View Restaurants to Try: Steins Beer Garden