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Quick question: A place for a drink and a snack in Oakland this afternoon

Desco is a great suggestion, especially at happy hour, when they are a true deal. Another more casual suggestion on the next block is Cosecha which also has a happy hour and their margaritas are pretty good.
Tribune Tavern has a good happy hour - starting 3 P.M.

Nov 05, 2014
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Top spots for Vietnamese food in Oakland

Pho 84 has this addictive "special rice" that they serve with their daily specials and rice plates. I don't know what they put in it but I can't order anything else on the menu. Sorry this does not answer your question. Try Binh Minh Quan's Beef in lot leaf (or the seven courses of beef) next door to Tay Ho.

Oct 23, 2014
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Anula's Cafe (Oakland)

Sep 11, 2014
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

carry-out for large East Bay party

Also try the really nice quiches, pate, apple pie, pastries, cookies etc from La Bedaine on Solano. The quiches are just as delicious cold. Just whip up a big salad and some drinks and you are good to go!

Jul 08, 2014
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday dinner dilemma, Berkeley or Oakland

I'd say Gather except it could very easily go over the price point you mentioned.

Jun 27, 2014
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Dragon Gate - New Taiwanese Food Venue in Oakland

Three of us had a fabulous dinner there on Friday. We ordered the three cup chicken, idiot noodle, chicken in rice wine pot, grilled okra. I think we had also ordered some dumplings but they never showed up and we were glad since the food quantities were pretty large. All of the food was very well made and my most memorable dish was the idiot noodles - like an exceedingly good interpretation of dan dan mien. The three cup chicken too was great. My friend really enjoyed the chicken in rice wine pot though I found it a tad bland. It reminded me of the medicinal chicken soups in korean cuisine. The grilled okra seemed almost japanese with bonito flakes and served with kewpie mayonnaise (or something very like it).
Overall great location (giant projection TV which is surprisingly not intrusive or blaring), and very very tasty food. Next time I'm getting a lot of beer!

Jun 09, 2014
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Downtown Oakland Lunch Spots [split from Stag's Lunchette thread]

A branch of the SF Bissap Baobab has opened in the last month on 15th between Franklin and Webster in Oakland downtown / uptown. Just went for lunch with a few colleagues and it was excellent with good vegetarian choices. I had a rice plate with grilled tilapia in a coconut curry sauce. It was sweet rather than spicy. But they ahd a fabulous hot sauce to elevate the flavors.
Don't forget to ask for their amazing hot sauce!!

See the short menu here http://www.bissapbaobaboakland.com/

Ruth's annual birthday dinner dilemma -- 2014 edition

Have you tried Mockingbird in uptown Oakland? I had a very nice meal there last week except parking was madness because of Childish Gambino at Fox. Their menu isn't huge but definitely covers many options. It was very comfortable with the tables at reasonable distances from each other. We had a chickpea soup with butternut squash, a salad with smoked tuna (excellent), a very nice crusted pork loin and steak and frites. Dessert was nice too especially housemade truffles. Service was very pleasant too.
Also wanted to add that Pican is good but I always find it woefully overpriced somehow.

Mar 03, 2014
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Mama Papa Lithuania Restaurant & Tea House in Alameda

Fellow hound and I tried this place for a late lunch post Alameda Antique Fair. I was starving and maybe thats why but I really really enjoyed the food.
We had the cold borscht (beet soup with sour cream and boiled potatoes and dill), cucumber salad with a nice but slightly sweet yoghurt dressing, the chicken breast roll stuffed with carrots and onions and the absolute favorite part of the meal - the cabbage rolls. The cabbage was melting, the meat stuffing was tasty and the sauce was absolutely delicious.
We were too stuffed for dessert but will definitely go back for the honey cake as well as the two other desserts on the menu sounded great!
The interior was nice and the server (the owner's cousin I believe) was very sweet and helpful. I would love to go back with a bigger group of people to try a few more things on the menu - the dumplings and the crepes possibly. The cabbage roll is a must try though.

Dec 02, 2013
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Box and Bells Eating House - Oakland

I think psb has covered most of our comments.
Thinking back the celery root and turnips were the flavors I remember the most along with the ribeye and scallops.
So quite a successful meal I think. I also felt the total price per head (about 63) came out to be reasonable (but that may be a function of the non-drinker subsidizing the drinkers as I realized later).
About the bread: even though they have bread on the menu - it sounds all buttered up and flavored - the simplest bit of plain bread was what we wanted. I don't want to pay $5 for bread with garlic butter or whatever - we wanted just plain bread (even if they charged us for it).
And yes super comfortable chairs.

Nov 25, 2013
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Osmanthus Oakland

Thanks for the report, I've been looking forward to this restaurant. However I don't believe its a Sylhabout enterprise - he just opened Box and Bells. This has different owner/chef combo running it. See http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

Nov 08, 2013
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Shandong House rebrands itself as Xi'an Gourmet [San Francisco]

We were at the biggest round table and it sat 7 comfortably - so maybe 10 max. There was one other round table but it was a little smaller.

Shandong House rebrands itself as Xi'an Gourmet [San Francisco]

I was one of those at the next table. It was not an actual chowdown per se - more a dinner where two or three of the seven at the table were chowhounds :) It was good to see Martin and Jing and the family at the next table!!

We had a very similar underwhelmed reaction as Martin. We did get the big plate chicken. It had cut up pieces of bone-in chicken, potatoes and onions in a curry like gravy. It was also spicy, the waitperson warned us but it was mostly jalapenos and maybe black pepper? My favorite part of the dish was the noodles lurking below - really long ones that had soaked in the gravy.

Other things we had ordered included the beef skewers, a-choy with garlic, braised silver belt fish, cumin lamb, shaanxi noodle soup and green onion pancakes. Also the sugar glazed yams to finish.

I liked the beef skewers which I am guessing were possibly less dry than the lamb ones. Also the a-choy was really delicious. The soup noodles were good (and wide like we had requested) however the broth was oddly bland.The rest of the food was similar in that it was okay but the flavors were not that clear or compelling. The fish was too fishy for most of the table - but if you are used to fresh water bony fish, it may appeal to you.

The service was actually pretty good - we got fresh plates when we asked and fairly prompt in general. Very reasonably priced at 18 per head for seven of us.

Not a destination restaurant, but if I have to be in the area (to say go to the Indian consulate round the corner) this could be an interesting option.

Sep 10, 2013
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Heading to Temescal tomorrow, with toddler [Oakland]

How about Juhu Beach Club? You can get a couple of the Pav options (short ribs and chicken are both yum) and the cilantro lemonade.They were very patient with my friends' one-year old who had broader interests (such as water glasses/napkins/utensils etc) than mere food. Not sure how early they open though.

Aug 01, 2013
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

China Village (Albany) is open!

Thanks Melanie for putting together the dinner and it was fun to meet old and new hounds. My favorite from the evening was the spicy fish filet mainly because it was new to me. The flavors were very mellow and the fish (flounder I believe?) was absolutely tender with a light browned (eggwash?) exterior. Delicious! The spicy beef was great too and sated my ma-la cravings very well.
Old favorites like the pork shoulder and the charred cabbage did not disappoint. It was great seeing the effect that the first bite of the charred cabbage had on people at the table who had not tried it before.
The sesame paste chicken was tasty but I remember a version in CV itself a couple years ago, that had less oil and more sesame paste and parts of the poached chicken had no sauce on it that I absolutely loved (I confess that I have no idea whether either version is the more authentic or true version). I wish we had had the sesame bread early enough to go along with the sauce left on the plate from the chicken!
Overall a great dinner and the warmth from Mrs Yao and the servers in spite of how busy the restaurant was only added to the pleasant evening. So glad to have CV back... Now if only Great Wall would reopen :) --Urmi (jhinky)

Jul 11, 2013
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Any Oakland Thai spots that serve Crispy Catfish with Green Mango Salad/Yam Pla-Duk Fu

Maybe Soi 4?

Jun 24, 2013
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Where would you take SF friends in Oakland for dinner

Just wondering, I am not that fond of Plum, but it seems to stand out of the list to me as the one I'd not want to exclude. But if your friends have been then that makes sense.
Funnily my most memorable dinner at Plum was when Kim Alter did these preview dinners for Haven there.

Apr 11, 2013
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Where would you take SF friends in Oakland for dinner

Places in Oakland that I keep going back to -
Camino, Vientian Cafe, Miss Ollies', and maybe Mua.

Why the list of exclusions by the way, specifically Plum?

Apr 11, 2013
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

CHOWDOWN REPORT: Happy Golden Bowl in El Cerrito

Marlon! You covered pretty much everything I had to say... However I think the red dates was with the pork shoulder, not the duck. The duck was braised with the hot sauce. Both these were really good, and I would find myself stealing bits from these two dishes as they went past on the lazy susan.
Also would like to add that the sesame pancake was much nicer than ones I have had before as it was beautifully crispy on the outside. Apparently they are pan fried after being baked. I think the one on our table was a little extra singed, and I really enjoyed that!
The handmade noodles was unusually doughy and flavorless. Maybe the noodles guy was away? Strangely this particular dish was whited out on my menu only and not the others'.
It was also very good to see old faces from China Village working here.

Feb 04, 2013
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Off The Grid hits Oakland tonight

I went around 6:45 and the place was hopping with live music and families with kids. There were 20-30 people in queue at pretty much every truck. I think at open (5 PM) it may have been too early to get the crowds in.
Foodwise - nothing much new to report. Chairman's bao's were as good as ever. Oh, except there was some interesting individual drip coffee (and Tcho hot chocolate) served at the "Blue Oak Cafe" inside.

Jan 27, 2013
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Berkeley Pizza Slices: Yay

The alcohol diversification is probably because they have an alcohol license to go with the location. You never give one of those up!!
The other way in which they differ from the mother ship is that they are open later though only a little bit, right? That would be a good way to distinguish themselves, imagine cheeseboard pizza and drinks until 11 or even midnight! A chowhound can hope, right?

Jan 17, 2013
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Oakland Business Casual Restaurant Options

I've been to a Greek place on Grand called Ikaros a few times and its always been relatively quiet and the food has been pretty good. I think they could deal with a large group too.

Dec 18, 2012
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Miss Ollies, Oakland preliminary impressions

Thanks for the review Mark. Do they only serve the fried chicken on Tuesdays as a special?

Dec 06, 2012
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Lil' Porkhouse, new BBQ in San Rafael

A friend and I tried this place last night and loved the food as well as the lovely people there. I had the sliders plate which was three (not small at all) sandwiches with chicken, brisket and pulled pork. Delicious and to be honest such a large portion I could finish only 2 of the sandwiches at dinner. I got the creamed corn as side and it was pretty good too. My friend got the pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw on it and the fried okra side. He pretty much inhaled it. The fried okra was darned good to. Everything felt very freshly made. I am no bbq expert but the meat quality was very high and my favorite was the pork. I also really enjoyed the bread which was properly toasted and stood up to the meat inside.
We also got to taste a sample of the gooey butter cake and oh my god it was amazing! We were too full to get dessert last evening but next time for sure.
The service was great - a few phone orders came by while we were there and two cops stopped by as well. The word is out it seems. Do try it especially if you are in the area.

Aug 22, 2012
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

chana dal dishes in restaurants?

Can't think of anything offhand, except the South Indian thalis that you mentioned. Oh and shammi kababs traditionally have ground meat and soaked chana dal processed together.

Aug 06, 2012
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

chana dal dishes in restaurants?

I use the Vik's house brand but thats just convenience. It should not stay hard at the center. I always forget to soak it but typically cook it simmering for 45-60 minutes - honestly never look at the time, just see if its cooked. I don't add salt and sugar until after its cooked.

Aug 01, 2012
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

chana dal dishes in restaurants?

I typically just use a heavy dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pan on medium - medium low to cook the dal. Also cook it covered on low for a while.

Aug 01, 2012
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

chana dal dishes in restaurants?

Please don't do that! Chana dal is one of my favorites.
In Bengali cooking you'd boil chana dal with a touch of asafoetida, and turmeric until its cooked.
Add some torn up or chopped green chillis towards the end.
Separately, in a frying pan, heat a little ghee or ghee oil mixture and temper some cumin seeds,and chopped up fresh coconut flesh (I use the frozen grated coconut if I am lazy) and garam masala (I use toasted and ground cardamom, clove and cinnamon). Once it smells delicious (less than a minute) add the whole thing to the boiling dal.
Use salt (and sugar) to taste and boil / simmer for a bit until the whole thing looks a harmonious whole! Serve with rice or chapati with simple fried eggplants.

Aug 01, 2012
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Stag's Lunchette [Oakland]

They had a short list of sandwiches/salads (6 the day I was there) including a vegan reuben but possibly no actual pastrami based sandwich that day. I had a pulled chicken sandwich which was delicious (spicy jalapeno cole slaw) served with a small side salad for $8. However the bread did not stand up very well to the filling, though it was tasty. They also had some pastries (from outside sources) including Starter Bakery Kouign Amans.
It reminds me a little bit of Farley's probably because one of the guys at the counter used to be at the Farley's on Grand. Good new option for lunch, wish there were a few more tables for 1-2 people rather than for 4, or had a more communal feel.

Jul 17, 2012
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area

Doughnut Dolly - Outstanding doughnut pop up in Oakland

I'd had a similar contemporaneously filled doughnut called naughty doughnut at Local 123 about 6 months or so back. Was that her?

May 02, 2012
jhinky in San Francisco Bay Area