Asian Fusion, Vegan Simplicity, and Bowling for Burgers

Oasis Grill, Parlour, Potala Organic Cafe, plank, and Zen Asian Fusion + Tapas


Updated Listing

Zen Asian Fusion + Tapas

ASIAN FUSION — Looking for a new favorite restaurant with an offbeat multicultural approach to tapas? Zen could be it, especially if the idea of Asian fusion appeals. The fusion occurring here explores Japanese, Korean, Thai, Chinese, Italian, and Hawaiian traditions with sashimi, kimchi, Thai basil, stir fries, spaghetti, and tempura appearing on the same menu. The vermilion-and-black dining room, offset by glowing paper Japanese lanterns, sets a sleek and stylish tone that goes well with the small plates. Some dishes are as familiar as spicy edamame and spring rolls; others are as foreign as takoyaki, which is crispy octopus puffs basically, and basa, or “lightly breaded, lemon caper sauce, furikake rice.” Tapas-style is a great way to eat, allowing diners to share, say, Asian fries of tempura sweet potatoes and wasabi shu mai and the pork belly suhi and Japanese eggplant. Dessert mixes things up, too, from fried bananas to a crème brûlée threesome. Serves dinner daily. 2315 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda, 510-521-7070. CC Serves Wine & Beer $$


New Listing

Potala Organic Cafe

VEGAN — Simplicity is a feature, not a bug, at Potala Organic Cafe, where even ordering is simple. This humble, spotless space—whose high standards and meditative silence make it feel like part home away from home, part shrine—offers 100 percent organic fare served under the steady gaze of Buddha statues. Sure, the food is mainly steamed seasonal produce, boiled beans, and whole grains prepared largely according to a low-fat, plant-based macrobiotic regimen. But Potala’s fare is not as basic as it looks, the result of immaculate sourcing and ingenious recipe-creation that applies to everything, from cinnabar-red split-pea/vegetable purée to onion-flecked chickpeas to Patianna Sauvignon Blanc to velvety, agave-sweetened chocolate-hazelnut or Key lime pie. And tables supplied with not just a salt shaker but also additional shakers containing cayenne and toasted, salted sesame seeds, might also play a role in the taste sensation. Because the menu changes daily, it’s pot luck with many undersung ingredients—your collard green, your beans—but they are rendered so irresistible that you may just want to sing yourself. Serves lunch and dinner daily. 1045 San Pablo Ave., Albany, 510-528-2375, CC Serves Beer & Wine $-$$


New Listing


AMERICAN — Bowling and burgers, together, are back, though eating is only one of about 20 things to do at Oakland’s plank. plank is the sprawling Jack London Square urban eat-play hub where bocce, bowling, arcade sports, video games, billiards, and high-definition TVs collide indoors and an outdoor beer garden serves 50 local handcrafted brews on tap. And it is where to find the mountainous applewood bacon/Swiss/mayo/wild-mushroom Broadway Burger, the juicy stout mustard/caramelized onions/pickled jalapeños Oakland Dog, and the Don Julio Blanco/Triple Sec/lime-juice/cranberry Oakland Cosmo. It’s also home to hefty sandwiches, meal-sized salads, almost-thick-crusted pizzas, cocktails, sweet tea and lemonade, sauerkraut bratwursts, beer-battered fish-and-chips, Asian-style pork burritos and char siu tacos. That’s all good since all that game-playing makes a competitor hungry—and thirsty. Serves lunch and dinner daily. 98 Broadway, Oakland, 510-817-0980. CC Full Bar Wheelchair Accessible $-$$


New Listing

Oasis Grill

MIDDLE EASTERN & MEDITERRANEAN — The popular Oasis Food Market folks from Telegraph Avenue have opened a new restaurant near Lake Merritt, bringing bright tastes of the Middle East lakeside. The deli case sparkles, an alluring belly dancer shimmies her veil on an interior mural, and there is sidewalk seating, making the overall space indoor and out inviting. The food is equally as inviting as the decor: enormous falafels fresh from the fryer, tender dolmas, heaping helpings of pita for dipping and sopping hummus and baba ghanoush. Tasty tabouleh, creamy tahini, the samosas, and spanakopita will tickle your taste buds, too. If it’s meat that’s required, particularly lamb, beef, chicken, or kifta, order the kebabs, shawarma, or burger. And don’t forget the walnut baklava. An organic ice cream parlor is in the works for an adjacent cubbyhole-sized space. Meanwhile, hookah fans can head upstairs to the hookah lounge, which boasts one of the loveliest patios with Grand Avenue views around. Serves lunch and dinner daily. 344 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-900-9800. CC Wheelchair Accessible $-$$


New Listing


CALIFORNIA — The advent of Parlour in Uptown might signal a new trend: the re-creation of a slice of 21st-century San Francisco (in this case, maybe a trendy Valencia Street restaurant) smack dab in the middle of Oaklandish territory. Welcome. Parlour follows a pricey-but-sure formula of wood-oven pizzas and interesting seasonal, market-driven appetizers, salads, small plates, pastas, and entrées with Cal-Ital flair. And Parlour does it with cool and calculated postindustrial décor and young, energetic, moderately tattooed staff. Finely balanced cocktails and a nice variety of beers go well with offerings such as roasted Mangalitsa pork loin and belly, fava leaf gnocchi, pork-veal-beef meatballs, artisan cheeses and charcuterie plates, and crispy squash blossoms with buratta and ribbons of melting lardo. The food—especially our desserts of butterscotch panna cotta and affogato—are artfully plated, confirming that creative minds and hands are at work in the kitchen. There is much to look forward to at Parlour, including a duck egg chitarra pasta with slow-cooked duck ragu and an octopus starter from the wood oven with marinated chechi beans. Serves dinner Tue.-Sun. Lunch and weekend brunch are planned. 357 19th St., Oakland, 510-451-1537. CC Full Bar Reservations Wheelchair Accessible $$-$$$$.

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