Favorite restaurants in Oakland and Berkeley

27 Sep

The other night I took my daughter to the Katy Perry concert in San Jose. While waiting for Katy to come on stage I chatted with another parent (from Pleasanton) about good restaurants in Oakland and Berkeley.

Here are my favorites:

Dreaming of Sushi at Roka Akor, San Francisco

21 Sep

Last weekend I watched (on Netflix) the excellent documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The food looked so good I wanted to fly to Tokyo for dinner. That’s not so practical, of course. But I was able to have dinner at Roka Akor in San Franscisco. This was some seriously good Japanese food. In fact some of the best I’ve ever had. Dinner consisted of

  • Miso Soup with Wild Mushrooms
  • Crispy Fried Squid with Chili and Lime,
  • Robata Grilled Pork Belly with Marinated Golden Beets
  • Wagyu Beef and Kimchi Dumplings
  • Various Nigiri – Sake, Toro, Unagi, and one other I can’t remember
  • Japanese Style Fried Chicken with Smoked Chili Aioli

Before dinner I drank a “Saketini, Martini” (Hendricks and Sake) cocktail and with the food I drank Dreamy Clouds, Rihaku Nigori, unfiltered sake.

It was all really really good. And all for the fraction of the price of a plane ticket and dinner at Jiro’s restaurant. The Toro was especially good: perfectly sized pieces of “melt in your mouth” fish served at just the right temperature. The only disappointment was that there wasn’t room for a Wagyu beef steak.

Eating real in Oakland

21 Sep

Today, we went to Oakland’s annual Eat Real Festival in Jack London Square. After quickly surveying the food options, I first had a delicious Carnitas Taco from Cholita Linda – really good Tortilla, tasty Pork.

After the taco I was tempted to try a Burrito from the Bacon Bacon food truck. Instead, I ate an absolutely delicious Poutine from The Whole Beast. I loved french fries smothered in gravy topped with Smoked Lamb.

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The final course consisted of a very nice Pulled Pork sandwich from the Prickly Pig. Their BBQ sauce is definitely worth trying.

While walking back to the car I bought some jars of hot and delicious Kimchi from Sinto Gourmet and had  a cup of Ethiopian Blue Nile coffee from Highwire Coffee.

Before and after at the Salvestrin Lobster boil

13 Aug

In May, we made our second trip to the annual Salvestrin winery Lobster boil. It’s a great event that attracts a large crowd from all over the country. For example, we talked to quite a few Texans.

As you might expect, there is lots to drink. So much so that you must either stay within walking in St. Helena or rent a limo for the evening.

Dinner is served at tables set out amongst the vines. It’s quite delicious. Here are the before and after shots.


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Tasty Portland food trucks

28 Jul

I was recently in Portland for OSCON. As well as delicious dinners at Andina and Yama Sushi and Sake bar I also sampled some Portland food trucks. I had lunch at the SW 9th and Alder pod.

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There were lots of food stands to choose from. After wandering around indecisively for 15 or so minutes I decided to first have  half of a delicious grilled sandwich from Savor Soup House.

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That was followed by a tasty Korean Spicy BBQ pork taco from Korean Twist.

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And finally, I ate a small bowl of delicious goodness (rice, beans and other things, …) from the The Whole Bowl.

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Unfortunately, there wasn’t room for Khao Man Gai from Nong’s. Next time….

The Purple Pig and Steaks in Chicago

30 Oct

I spent four days last week at the Spring One conference in Chicago. The conference provided most of the meals:  typical hotel catered food and best described as ok. Fortunately, I was able to eat outside of the a few times and in some cases had some excellent food.

On Wednesday, I had lunch at Mezze Grilled Wraps and Pita: chicken kabobs and salad. The food was pretty decent but I was disappointed that it wasn’t better. In the evening I had dinner at N9ne, which is a trendy steak house. As an appetizer, I had Two Cones: ice-cream-style cones filled with ahi tuna tartare and marinated lobster. Very tasty. For a main course, I had the Surf and Turf, which is an 80z filet mignon and half a lobster along with a side of spinach. I really enjoyed the food especially since there wasn’t a huge amount of it. The mile walk there and back helped too!

On Thursday, I took my mother-in-law out for dinner at Gene and Georgetti, a classic, 70-year old Chicago Steak house. The seafood salad was excellent and my mother-in-law enjoyed her Lobster Tail De Jonghe. However, I found my Ribeye steak a little too much even though it was well prepared. Perhaps going to steak restaurants tonights in a row was not the best idea. Having said that I’m glad that I experienced Gene and Georgetti’s.

The culinary high point of the trip was friday lunch at the Purple Pig. The food was absolutely delicious yet relatively inexpensive. It’s not a surprise that the Purple Pig is a Michelin 2011 Bib Gourmand Restaurant. There were six of us and we had numerous small plates including:

  • Pig’s Ear with Crispy Kale, Pickled Cherry Peppers & Fried Egg – wow
  • Panini Coppa with Provolone Cheese, Pickled Cherry Peppers & Whole Grain Mustard  – tasty
  • Panini Salami Toscana, Goat Cheese & Black Olive Tapenade – tasty
  • Milk Braised Pork Shoulder with Mashed Potatoes – delicious, melt in your mouth
  • Morcilla (blood sausage) with Fava Beans, Bread Crumbs & Sherry Vinaigrette – omg!
  • Purple Pig Platter – a delicious collection of cured meats
The food at the Purple Pig is really, really good.