Oakland to the Islands

A friend and I visited Hibiscus Restaurant, and the food was good. We didn’t get the warmest feeling from the staff, but we figured they left the heat to the food!

Over to it: We had the divine plantains- they had raw garlic bits on top: good for the system, bad for the kissin’. The ackee and saltfish was better than any I had in Jamaica when I lived there but it packs a SERIOUS punch, with (I’m guessing) scotch bonnet peppers. The pickliz were a fun side, as was the callaloo- but like many people I can’t stand okra, and there was a good helping in the greens.

The hibiscus drink which was really sweet, and I was really tempted to get a Ting- next time!

The bread pudding was salted caramel goodness- we were reprimanded for leaving a single bite, so I took the bite for the team… I now must start a running habit!

Maybe I’ll run down to Yardie Jerk for Jamaican next time- keep an irie eye out for the update!!

Burmese Food in Oakland

Back in the 90s, there was a Burmese restaurant on Lombard called Irawaddy. Nothing could have sounded more exotic than Burmese food, so we HAD to go. The tables were subterranean and it was empty the first time we went. A year or so later, the place was packed and the owners remembered us as some of their first customers. Since then, I have searched high and low for a tea leaf salad. There are only two places in Oakland that I know of with the blessed salad- Burma Superstar and Nan Yang. I went to Burma Superstar last night with the friend who embarked with me on the Burmese food obsession.

We tried a few new items, along with the standard platha and tea leaf salad. We had the coconut rice- oh so creamy as a base for the beef burmese curry- a dark red rich curry which also paired well with the Tan Poi- cardamom cinnamon raisin rice. The pea shoots were salty, and the overwhelming favorite was Nan Gyi Dok, a noodle dish with a sweet coconutty yellow curry sauce, eggs, split peas and fried onions. YUM. Go here with friends as you will want to try many things, and do NOT forget the cocktails- both virgin and soju laced! The mint lychee smoothie is wonderful, and the cucumber and lychee mojitos were a nice counterpoint to the plates.

I haven’t been to Nan Yang in a couple of years, but the garlic noodles and tea leaf salad are a great go-to if you don’t want to wait for dinner during prime hours.

If you are new or curious about Burmese food- many people liken it to Thai food with less chili. Go for lunch and give it a shot!

O-town’s Tart Fro-Yo

Tart yogurt is a newish thing in my life. It’s old hat to most now, I resisted for a long time but have some around… The trend keeps rolling along- I thought it would have passed by now. Luckily, it hasn’t! It has fresh toppings and pro-biotics- FINALLY a dessert that is good for you!
There aren’t many places in Oakland to get the tart stuff, so here are three that are open for your business!!

Kiwitiwi
The bottom of High St. near the bridge to Alameda
This yogurt is in a car wash! Sort of odd, but if you are jonesing and don’t want to cross that bridge, it is there for you in all its tart goodness. Fresh toppings too! Support the little guy!

SoGreen
Oakland City Center
I’ve been to SoGreen in the city. Since they pour for you- it limits the possibilities, but you always know how its going to come out! Their price point seems to be on the high end, but it is always a tasty treat.

Tutti Frutti
Piedmont Ave
I love it when you introduce someone to something and they love it more than you do, and then you go there all the time and get tart yogurt and make fun of the chilled out kids that work there who play the Grateful Dead and the Ramones.

I love lychees. LOVE THEM. There, I said it. Now everyone knows.

Oakland Coffee

We met a guy who works for Blue Bottle Coffee and he gave us a couple pounds to try as a favor-  thanks guy!!

I happily brought it home and tried it for a few days. As it was whole bean, I ground it up, but either I’m used to the turbo-jet-fuel of Cole Coffee, or I didn’t grind it fine enough- as it really didn’t  hit me with any great slap. The flavor was nice, but (horror of horrors, maybe my taste buds are dying off) it seemed, well, weak.

When I drink coffee, I like the experience to be somewhere between a warm hug and an ice bath for my nervous system. I only drink one cup a day usually- (well, a pint glass) so it’s gotta be quality.

Am I missing something here? Do I need to go down to Jack London and get a drip cup straight from the teat? I can’t believe there is all this hype around BB if my experience was typical. I want to like you Blue, I do!