Dinner and a movie

A new ramen spot opens, Cinemark has a club and, sadly, the Rock House is no more

Life is hard right now. Part of me feels bad saying that because I didn’t lose anything tangible in the Camp Fire. But I’m feeling it. And I know others are, too. As a way to get away for a few hours, my boyfriend, Chuck, and I had our first date night in weeks Sunday night.

We started with dinner at a brand-new restaurant, Coco’s Ramen, in the Safeway shopping center on Nord Avenue. I made the sole mistake of ordering my ramen “mild” rather than “regular,” and because I’m a serious wuss when it comes to heat, I started sweating halfway through our meal. But the chicken gyoza were amazing, and the service was great. Chuck loved his ramen bowl, just right for him at medium heat.

I returned Monday night, solo, because I was determined to try the ramen sans heat, and I am so glad I did. During this second visit I had the opportunity to meet the owner, Steve Zou. He also owns Coco’s Ramen in San Francisco, and he’s moved to Chico to open his second location. Originally from China, he’s been cooking Japanese food for more than a decade, he told me. His wide smile and genuine enthusiasm—and the fact that my meal seriously rocked—tells me this place has staying power. Plus, he has some dedicated staff—at least one followed him from SF. I know I’ll be back.

Suck it up Between dinner and a movie, Chuck and I stopped in to Bill’s Towne Lounge downtown for a cocktail. It’s worth noting because it’s the first place I’ve noticed metal straws, with stirrers on the bottom (I’m guessing they’re also helpful in the dishwasher). Good on ya!

And a movie We finished the evening with a flick. If you haven’t joined the Cinemark Movie Club, I can’t see a downside—$8.99 a month, it includes one movie a month (additional tickets are only $8.99), plus 20 percent off concessions. Considering a regular ticket costs $9.50, we saved a buck. And unused tickets roll over.

More flavor Another recent discovery in the same Safeway center is Taste of Hmong. I walked in a few weeks ago and the owner told me he’d sold his truck to go brick-and-mortar. I wasn’t hungry enough at the time to order dinner, though the menu is enticing—and my counter-mate’s pho looked delicious—but I walked out with three egg rolls. No joke, they may have been the best egg rolls I’ve eaten in Chico.

History Before my deliciously distracting ramen dinner on Monday, I’d trekked out to Yankee Hill and saw what’s left of the Rock House Dining & Espresso. I’d stopped by there about six months ago for lunch and enjoyed a burger on the patio. The funky spot, along Highway 70 and built in the 1930s, is now a shell of its former self. Its Facebook page indicates the kitchen may have been spared, and the owners hope to rebuild. To donate, go to tinyurl.com/rockhousehwy70.