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Filipino Oakland reviews

Pulled Pork Adobo Sandwich at Cafe Gabriela – Oakland, CA

Pulled Pork Adobo Sandwich

Cafe Gabriela has been open for around seven months and it’s a couple blocks from my office, but I never thought about going there until my friend Luis told me they served a pulled pork adobo sandwich. After I read that tweet, I immediately left the office to go get some lunch.

The adobo is cooked long enough so that the pork pulls apart easily, and flavorwise, I really liked that you can actually taste the vinegar. It’s served topped with onions and any juices are absorbed by a perfectly toasted baguette. Owner Penny Bee, who named the business after Philippine heroine Gabriela Silang, developed the recipe herself and says she’s gotten several requests for a chicken adobo sandwich, as well.

Aside from their signature adobo sandwich, Cafe Gabriela’s other menu options include a turkey cranberry sandwich and an heirloom tomato salad. They also make a point to showcase some of the East Bay’s best businesses, including The Bread Workshop, Blue Bottle Coffee, Arizmendi Bakery, and Pepples Donuts.

I’ve been desperate for Filipino lunch options since I started working in downtown Oakland in February. With Cafe Gabriela and the newly opened No Worries vegan Filipino restaurant just a few blocks in the other direction, my Filipino lunch cravings are finally satisfied.

Cafe Gabriela
988 Broadway
(between 9th St & 10th St)
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 763-2233
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Northern California Oakland reviews sandwiches

Eating Downtown Oakland – Cam Huong and Battambang

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written, and I could offer any number of excuses for my hiatus, but I’ll go with this one…

After more than five years of working in the sleepy suburban town of Livermore, CA, I started a new job in downtown Oakland last month, and this change of scenery has led to several adjustments to my daily life. I no longer drive my car to work and am happily commuting via BART. This requires both my wife and I, who are notoriously late risers, to wake up a lot earlier than we’re used to so that I can catch the train every morning. While the drastic reduction of our overall fuel consumption has been good for the soul, my new office has been excellent for my stomach. It’s location at Oakland’s 12th Street City Center puts me blocks away from dozens of great lunch options, a world away from the limited options available to me in Livermore.

Before my first day of work, I began compiling a list of recommendations from friends who knew the area well and I combined them into this Google map.

I was most excited to be near Oakland Chinatown, which is smaller but generally better than the larger “tourist trap” Chinatown in San Francisco. Ironically, my two favorite places in Oakland Chinatown aren’t Chinese.

Cam Huong

Cam Huong is a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese deli that serves up a variety of hot and cold Chinese and Vietnamese dishes, but I go there for the bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwiches) and fresh spring rolls. I went back the other day and got the #1, which is a cold cut combo with pate (hold the cilantro because I can’t stand the stuff). With the fresh bread, delicious meats and the pickled veggies inside, this is a perfect sandwich.

#1Cam Huong’s #1 is aptly named.

I always supplement my sandwiches with a three-pack spring rolls, and I really like the variety pack with goi cuon, bo bia and bi cuon (summer roll, sausage roll, shredded pork roll).

Spring Rolls - Cam HuongA spring roll three pack.

The sandwiches are all under $3, and when you include the spring rolls, I get out of there for just under $6. This makes the Subway $5 Footlong look like a bad deal. Next on the agenda is the grilled pork and cha gio bun, one of my all-time favorite Vietnamese dishes. I hope there’s a table open next time I’m there.

Cam Huong Cafe
920 Webster Street
Oakland, CA
510.444.8800

Battambang

Battambang is a Cambodian restaurant just a few blocks down the street, and it’s already one of my favorite lunch spots. This is the dish that got me hooked…

Grilled Chicken Skewers - BattambangMoarn Aing – grilled chicken skewers.

…and this is what I ordered on my return:

Grilled Combo - BattambangLunch Combo – grilled chicken, beef, and shrimp skewers with fried rice.

I haven’t had a lot of Cambodian food, and I’m sure there’s more to the cuisine than grilled meat, but I’d seriously consider forsaking all other skewered meats to settle down with either of these dishes. If I had to choose, I’d stick with the combo for variety and the fried rice, but the spicy lime sauce it’s served with really pulls both of these dishes together. When I first saw it, I thought it was going to be similar to Vietnamese nuoc mam, which is one of my favorite things, but I really like the spicy lime sauce a whole lot more.

Looking over their menu, there’s a lot of other dishes I want to try, but the grilled meats keep me happy for now.

Battambang
850 Broadway
Oakland, CA
510.839.8815
Web site

I’m thinking of making Eating Downtown Oakland a running series, and there are a bunch other places around here that are worth discussion. Cam Huong and Battambang were fast favorites, and I can’t wait to see what else I can find in my new urban playground.

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Bakesale Betty

Our first trip to Bakesale Betty was kind of an accident. We had about 45 minutes to kill before our reservation at Pizzaiolo, and Bakesale Betty was still open, so we decided to walk over and see what was happening over there. We’d heard about their famous fried chicken sandwiches, but with dinner looming, we decided to have dessert first. Nothing wrong with that, right?

We split a really big strawberry shortcake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. It was nice and light, and we didn’t want to fill up before dinner. I had to get a chocolate cupcake and it was pretty good. The cake was a little dry, but the chocolate buttercream was great, extremely light and perfect (buttercream is usually a big turnoff for me). I washed it down with a lemon ice that was nice and tart, just the way I like them.


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We also got some pastries for breakfast the next day (pear ginger scone for my wife, lemon raisin scone for me), and two handheld chicken pot pies. The scones were excellent, but I want to talk about the chicken pot pies. You just pop them in the oven for 45 minutes and you’re rewarded with an amazing handheld meal. I never knew a chicken pot pie could be this good…it was one of the best things I’ve eaten in weeks.

We had Betty’s famous fried chicken sandwich on our next visit and when paired with a lemon ice and some cookies, it’s a perfect summer lunch. The bread is fresh and the perfect boneless fried chicken breast is topped with a really nice vinegary cole slaw. It’s a very messy sandwich and you could argue that there’s a little too much slaw, but overall, it’s an excellent combination. The egg salad sandwiches are pretty good, too, but if given a choice, the fried chicken sandwich wins every time.

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Pizzaiolo

Chef Charlie Halliwell is one of the many Chez Panisse alumns opening restaurants around the Bay Area, and his Pizzaiolo in Oakland’s Temescal District has quickly became a local favorite. After heaping tons of praise on L.A.’s Pizzeria Mozza and Larkspur’s Pizzeria Picco for their amazing wood-fired pizzas, I thought I should pay Pizzaiolo a visit since it’s much closer to home. Pizzaiolo has received its share of rave reviews, including a nod from San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer and mentions in Food and Wine and Condé Nast Traveler.


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Pizzaiolo is committed to supporting locally grown, seasonal, and organic meat and produce, so the menu changes daily based on what’s available. We decided to split an appetizer, a pasta dish and two pizzas for our party of three.

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fried chicken reviews soul food waffles

Luka’s Taproom

If there was ever a reason to go to downtown Oakland on a Sunday morning, the Sunday Soul Brunch at Luka’s Taproom might be one of the best. Oakland’s not known for its weekend brunch offerings, but Luka’s take on some Southern classics is definitely worth the trek.

Fried Chicken and Waffles, one of my all-time favorites, are served with a side of fresh peaches and cream; a delicious hash of braised oxtail, yukon gold and sweet potatoes is served with two poached eggs and toast; Eggs Luka is a yummy scramble of smoked trout, creme fraiche and chives served with hash browns and toast; and the Shrimp Benedict is a nice twist on a classic breakfast. Of course, we had to split a perfectly fried catfish filet ($4) just to complete the meal. The complementary cornbread was a nice starter and was served with small jars of honey and jam.


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Everything at Luka’s was beautifully plated, and it was nice to see that all the food made with fresh ingredients. Parking is pretty easy on Sunday morning and Luka’s has its own lot in the back, but it’s also a couple blocks from the 19th Street BART station, so it’s accessible from almost anywhere in the Bay Area. So if you ever end up in Oakland for brunch, Luka’s is definitely the place to be.

INFORMATION
Luka’s Taproom & Lounge
2221 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612 map
510.451.4677
Web site

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chicken fried chicken Korean Northern California reviews

Oriental BBQ Chicken Town

Oriental BBQ Chicken Town serves up some amazing Korean fried chicken (KFC). KFC sets itself apart from other kinds of fried chicken by serving the chicken covered in a variety of sauces. The sweet/spicy sauce and the soy/garlic were in abundance within our party and were huge crowd pleasers. I think they also serve it up plain, and they also make a killer roasted chicken. But for the true experience, the sauces are really where it’s at. My favorite was the soy garlic because it had the best flavor and wasn’t completely drenched in sauce like the sweet/spicy chicken.


Sweet/Spicy (left) and Soy Garlic (right)
(picture courtesy of mia k.)

While the chicken is the star here, there’s actually a whole mess of other Korean dishes available. We ordered some duk bok kee (rice cake and fish cake in spicy sauce) that was really good. Towards the end of the meal, there was some bu dae chigae, a great noodle soup with SPAM and hot dogs in it that was also a winner.

A Korean meal wouldn’t be complete without soju and beer, and there was plenty to go around. The favorite of the night was the yogurt soju, which is basically soju mixed with Yakult, a sour yogurt-like beverage. Seriously, I think yogurt soju is now my favorite drink. We also tried a strawberry soju, but it tasted just like Robitussin. If you’re into Korean beers, there’s plenty of Hite and OB to go around.

INFORMATION
Oriental BBQ Chicken Town
6101 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA 94609 map
510.595.5338
Oriental B.B.Q. Chicken Town on Urbanspoon