Young Asian chefs and restaurateurs in Oakland love the food of their home countries and their youth, like the salty-sweet street fare from Mumbai’s beaches or the spicy roasted Siamese peanuts sold on Thailand streets. Oakland-based cooks like to do their own thing, often outpacing their counterparts elsewhere. They herald the rise of inventive, new dishes with fresh takes on traditional cuisine. Here are six spots raising the bar, and changing expectations, for what Asian food can be.
Kristy looked radiant in her satin gown when I picked her up in my dad’s leased, lemon-chiffon Lincoln Continental. The luxury ride was less to impress—Kristy wasn’t my girlfriend; I was standing in for her boyfriend in the service—than to smooth out the long and winding ride to Port Costa for our pre-senior ball dinner at the Bull Valley Inn. This was back in the culinary dark ages, before the advent of California cuisine, when we called restaurants “fancy” not “upscale,” and a fancy restaurant served French or, more likely in the suburbs, “continental” cuisine.
Beer for breakfast. It wasn’t foremost in my mind when we planned a Sunday trip to Brotzeit Lokal. Nor do I advocate it as a daily indulgence. But we arrived around 1 p.m., so we’re really talking brunch. Also, I was having knackwurst with my scrambled eggs (poached not offered), home fries and toast ($10), and doesn’t a German pork sausage (flavored with juniper) just beg for a beer? Moreover, it was still October, so a pint of Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen ($6)—one of 16 rotating German, American and (a few) Belgian brews on tap here ($4.50–$8.50)—seemed perfectly appropriate.
When A16 debuted in San Francisco’s Marina District in 2004, it was an immediate hit and, nearly 10 years later, it remains one of the region’s top-rated restaurants. History repeated itself in June when A16 Rockridge opened on College Avenue in Oakland. From the get-go, seats have been in high demand in the splendidly remodeled dining room, in the bar/lounge (slightly more integrated into the overall space than when Hudson and Garibaldi’s dwelled there) and at the semicircular counter around the wood-fired pizza oven. You may have thought the East Bay didn’t need another eclectic Italian restaurant with a wood-fired pizza oven. The crowds say you would have been wrong.
Yingji Huang, the chef-owner of Kakui Sushi in Montclair was born in China, he didn’t grow up with sushi culture and didn’t even sample sashimi until high school.
The 11th annual Concerts at the Cove kicks off tonight as House of Floyd brings the sounds of Pink Floyd to Crab Cove.