Saucy started with a group of friends sharing frozen foods and homemade dipping sauces in chef Tony Ngo’s tiny Oakland apartment. Nowadays, Ngo and his business partner Jenni Nguyen say that Saucy is more about an attitude than the dipping sauces. That attitude comes out best in the unique, well-executed dishes like the Thai corn dogs, made with herbs ground in a mortar and pestle blended with pork belly, and the braised short rib, served with truffle-cauliflower purée and ginger-cabbage-cilantro-mint slaw. Other dishes, like the eggplant lettuce wraps and miso salmon, felt a little incomplete. Still, the plates are well-designed for sharing, especially when combined with one of the sakes from their impressive selection, or one of the refreshing, not too sweet sake cocktails in flavors like strawberry-guava.

— Katherine Hamilton


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