Blue Moon Cafe and Karaoke

Blue Moon Cafe and Karaoke

5000 Freeport Blvd.
Sacramento, CA

Many local restaurants advertise their cuisine as “comfort food.” But the definition of such varies widely from person to person. Blue Moon Cafe and Karaoke, which serves up Pan-Asian cuisine, smoothies and snacks, provides the type of dishes many eat for comfort: Hong Kong-style cafe food.

In Sacramento, most people equate Hong Kong-style cuisine with dim sum, but this restaurant is a classic cha chaan teng, or “tea food hall.” (The nearby Yummy Juice Cafe, located at 3005 Freeport Boulevard, is another well-known local cha chaan teng.)

There’s still tea served, but unlike a dim sum restaurant, most of it here isn’t the traditional loose-leaf kind. Instead, Blue Moon serves milk-infused Hong Kong-style tea, heavily sweetened lemon ice tea and a variety of fruit smoothies. You also won’t find dishes such as shu mai, har gow or chicken feet on the menu. Instead, there are rice plates, sandwiches, noodle bowls, soups and stir-fries. A few random Japanese (ramen, fried udon), French (sweet or savory crepes), Russian (borscht), Korean (beef and kimchi hot pot) and Italian (various pasta options) foods add to the feeling that whatever your cultural background, you’ll find a comfort dish from your childhood to wrap its arms around you and give you a hug.

With a numbered menu that makes its way into the 6,000s (no, there aren’t actually 6,000 items served here, just a jumpy numbering system. But, still, there is a lot of food), ordering always leaves a lingering guilt about leaving behind a potentially amazing dish. On the upside, this extensive menu boasts the possibility of hiding a pleasant new surprise upon every trip.

On this visit, I’ve come with a posse of Asian friends (Hmong, Mien, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian), all possessing wildly different tastes and backgrounds. We order a large swath of snacks, including fried squid; waffles topped with assorted fruit; braised pig ear with soy sauce and peanuts; tempura green beans; and ice-cream-filled crepes topped with more ice cream. Also sampled: waffles drizzled with peanut butter and condensed milk; fried salt-and-peppered chicken; wontons in spicy red oil; and macaroni with Spam and eggs.

One of the best dishes we try is the braised pig ear with soy sauce and peanuts. It’s extremely salty, but pairs well with an Australian shiraz that we’ve brought from home—for a $10 corkage fee. The Hong Kong-style milk tea and lemon ice tea turn out to be sweet and delicious.

The biggest miss is the macaroni with Spam and eggs. There’s literally no seasoning, and the entire dish sits in a puddle of hot water that doesn’t seem to serve any purpose flavorwise. Elsewhere, the wontons in spicy red oil are a Sichuan specialty that bring a much-needed kick to an otherwise bland (as is common in Hong Kong-style food) collection of dishes. Ultimately, most dishes are good, but none are great.

But this eatery, as its name implies, is more than just a cafe: It also features private karaoke rooms—with a song list that includes tunes in Chinese, Vietnamese and English—that fit up to 20 people. These are available at an hourly rate; we visited during happy hour, which takes place daily between 2 and 7 p.m., with a group of eight, and the session only set us back $20 per hour.

Blue Moon caters to college-age patrons and families who like to eat on the cheap. Because it’s open until 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday and until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, it’s a definite go-to for late-night munchies. While the food isn’t awe-inspiring, it’s nice to at least know that when you’re a little buzzed and hankering for your favorite childhood snack, this place will come through—at any hour.