Kanitha Matoury of Spice Monkey
How to reconcile the many-splendored wilderness of cuisines in the Bay Area? Oakland restaurateur Kanitha Matoury has found a way. She serves up crispy, spicy sambousek rolls alongside Southeast Asian-style paella and Argentinian chimichurri steak along with chicken schnitzel salad at her beautiful downtown eatery, Spice Monkey.
Spice Monkey keeps moving and grooving with new menus, the addition of a dozen beers on tap, a Saturday lunch and happy hour and playful enticements like the “midlife crisis” discount program for customers ages 45 to 120. Matoury makes monkeying around delicious fun, and she always manages to get around to these East Bay food spots:
You can find almost anything that you want to cook, for dishes from around the world.
Any funky spices and veggies. And the prices are awesome. I wish that they were located next door to
me — either next to Spice Monkey or my house, so I can go there whenever I want, even in my pjs.
920 Heinz Ave., Berkeley, (510) 898-9555; 2020 Oregon St., Berkeley, (510) 843-6929, www.berkeleybowl.com
Brown Couch Cafe
Even though Teresa [Acree] mistakes me for my most favorite person, Geraldine [Conzento] (a manager at Spice Monkey), she always makes my mango smoothies just right. Most importantly, her smile brightens my day!
340 14th St., (510) 452-1664
Take It Easy!
The name says it all! Tom and Suterra [Sukwiwat] cook the most authentic Thai food. They are sweethearts. Every time I go, it brings back memories I have for the food in the Bangkok market.
351 17th St., (510) 452-2442
I go there to see my friend-mentor Jesse [Branstetter]. He taught me everything I know about the restaurant kitchen. Plus they have great food and beers.
247 Fourth St., Suite 111, (510) 834-2467, www.oaklandchopbar.com
Shan Dong Restaurant
My favorite for Chinese food — everything is always fresh. They make their own pork buns, pot stickers and many other things. This place is a small gem that has been around forever.
328 10th St., Suite 101, (510) 839-2299
Spice Monkey, 1628 Webster St., (510) 268-0170, www.spicemonkeycafe.com