Friday, August 29, 2014

Three Great Corn Dishes to Try Before the Season Ends

by Luke Tsai
Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Hawker Fare's twist on grilled corn on the cob. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • Hawker Fare's twist on grilled corn on the cob.
When corn is in season, as it is now, fresh corn on the cob smeared with melted butter is such a lovely, classic thing, you really need to do something special to improve on it. Here are three dishes that meet the mark, available in the East Bay for a limited time.

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In Oakland, Too, Fast Food Is Going Loco’l

by Luke Tsai
Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Roy Choi, the "wild card." - TRAVIS JENSEN
  • Travis Jensen
  • Roy Choi, the "wild card."
The most exciting initiative to come out of Copenhagen from this year’s MAD Symposium, an annual gathering of some of the world’s most prominent chefs and food cognoscenti, will set down roots in the Bay Area. Roy Choi (whose Los Angeles-based Kogi food trucks spawned an entire generation of fusion-taco entrepreneurs) and Daniel Patterson (whose Bay Area restaurant empire includes Oakland’s Haven, Ume, and Plum Bar) are joining forces to open Loco’l, a fast-food chain that will target so-called “food deserts” — low-income neighborhoods with few healthy dining options — in California and beyond.

The chefs’ ambition? To serve healthy, delicious fast food — everything from burgers and tacos to rice bowls — for just $2 to $6 per item. The nascent chain, whose name is a play on “loco” (i.e., crazy) and “local,” will open its first location in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district next year, The Chronicle reports.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Update: The Jerk Chicken at Anula’s Cafe Is Back

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Anula's also serves deli sandwiches.
  • Anula's also serves deli sandwiches.
A brief update on the situation at Anula’s Cafe (1319 Franklin St.), the downtown Oakland lunch spot imperiled by a recent health inspector ruling that the restaurant could no longer serve meat: Owner Anula Edirisinche called this morning to say that she is once again serving her full menu — Tuesday jerk chicken special and all.

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Mid-Week Menu: Taiwan Bento’s ‘Hard’ Opening, Emeryville’s Newest Food Truck Gathering, and Hopscotch’s Pig Party

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Taiwan Bento’s (412 22nd St., Oakland) self-proclaimed soft opening period ends this Friday, August 29, but co-owner Willy Wang tells me that the Taiwanese lunch spot will keep things fairly low-key even as they head into their “hard” launch. The Uptown restaurant’s streamlined opening menu features four “bentos” (lunch boxes), beef noodle soup, and a few side dishes, and Wang said they’ll likely continue to serve only lunch (Monday to Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) at least through the first couple of weeks of September. New menu items and expanded hours will be rolled out slowly. Next on the agenda (but probably still about a month away): boba drinks. Read more about Taiwan Bento here.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

East Oakland’s Grilled Links Kings

by Luke Tsai
Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 8:57 PM

  • Bert Johnson
On a bright Saturday afternoon in August, the line was five deep at East Oakland’s most famous grilled links and hot dog stand, and an older African American woman was telling the proprietors that she thanks Jesus for them, and for all of their success. “Just look at this line!” she said. “I’m praying for you.”

I’d come to the corner of 69th Avenue and International Boulevard to check out a food cart I’d heard about through vague rumors and scattered Yelp reviews. In this stretch of East Oakland, however, it seemed like everybody knew about it. Everyone waiting in line seemed to be a regular, anyway. 

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Anula’s Cafe Threatened by Health Inspection Issue

by Luke Tsai
Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Anula Edirisinche (center) inside her tiny restaurant, Anula's Cafe. - CHRIS DUFFEY
  • Chris Duffey
  • Anula Edirisinche (center) inside her tiny restaurant, Anula's Cafe.
By far the best and most popular dish at Anula’s Cafe (1319 Franklin St.), a tiny deli-cafe in downtown Oakland, is its Tuesday jerk chicken special, a recipe that Anula Edirisinche, the restaurant’s Sri Lankan owner, learned years ago from her Jamaican mother-in-law. For the past week, however, the restaurant hasn’t been able to serve the jerk chicken, or its Caribbean-style chicken rotis or curry-tinged tilapia fillets either, for that matter.

In fact, last Tuesday, an Alameda County health inspector ruled that Anula’s could no longer serve any meat dishes — only vegetarian fare.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mid-Week Menu: Cafe Underwood Opens in North Oakland, Spats Is Coming Back to Berkeley, and the Kensington Farmers’ Market Is Now Serving Wine

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Cafe Underwood (308 41st St.), a new-school Wi-Fi cafe, is now open in North Oakland, Berkeleyside Nosh reports. As I noted in my preview from last year, owner Dominick Scala’s idea was to take a neighborhood coffee shop and the (increasingly popular) idea of a rentable “co-working space,” and to essentially create a hybrid of the two — a place where customers can drink good coffee, grab a bite to eat, and get their work done without having to feel guilty about taking up a table. The cafe softly opened last week and is serving Highwire Coffee Roasters drip coffee, espresso drinks, and Howling Wolf nitro cold-pressed coffee, which comes out of the tap with a creamy head like a Guinness, Scala said. There are several local beers and wines available on tap.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

An Oakland Chef Makes His Reality TV Debut

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Chef Kyle Itani (left) presents a dish to the judges. - ESQUIRE TV
  • Esquire TV
  • Chef Kyle Itani (left) presents a dish to the judges.
This week’s episode of Knife Fight, Esquire TV’s testosterone-fueled cooking reality show, featured a familiar face for fans of Hopscotch (1915 San Pablo Ave.), Uptown Oakland’s Japanese-inspired diner: Chef Kyle Itani was one of the featured contestants.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Former Tribune Tavern Chef to Open Chowhaus in Montclair

by Luke Tsai
Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 2:03 PM

click image Joe Schnell (left) and Tracey Belock in front of Montclair Bistro, which will reopen as Chowhaus later this fall. - STEVE BABULJAK
  • Steve Babuljak
  • Joe Schnell (left) and Tracey Belock in front of Montclair Bistro, which will reopen as Chowhaus later this fall.
With all of its virtues — its sweeping bay views and old-fashioned charm — Oakland’s Montclair neighborhood has hitherto not been known as much of a dining destination. Two longtime Montclair residents, Tracey Belock and Joe Schnell, hope to change that when their new restaurant, Chowhaus (6118 Medau Pl.), replaces Oakland Hills stalwart Montclair Bistro later this fall. Mostly, though, the husband-and-wife team hopes to create something they believe their neighborhood has been missing: a family-friendly community gathering place.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Drought Expected to Disrupt California’s Olive — and Olive Oil — Harvest

by Luke Tsai
Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 7:30 AM

  • Amphora Nueva
California’s prolonged drought is poised to claim another victim: this year’s olive harvest.

The Fresno Bee reports that the drought and other weather-related difficulties are expected to cause California’s 2014 table olive crop to be roughly 45-percent lower than last year’s — 50,000 tons, down from 91,000. (This in spite of the fact that the drought prompted at least some farmers in the Central Valley to switch to growing olive trees instead of more water-intensive crops such as rice or almonds.)

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