Cam Huong Restaurant

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Cam Huong is one of the more popular Vietnamese sandwich (banh mi) shops in Oakland.  They have two locations.  One in Oakland Chinatown and one in East Oakland.  Besides banh mi, they sell various Chinese take out dishes and soups.  If you happen to go here an hour before closing, you can pick up a couple premade dishes for almost half off.    

I rarely buy fried rice in a take out spot like this, but I couldn't pass up the closing time $3 deal.  The rice was fluffy, but the taste was just average.  I did like thin slices of lap cherng (Chinese sausage) in the fried rice, which reminded me of my mom's fried rice.
The curry chicken sandwich probably had the most flavor out of all the sandwiches I got, but its best to eat it as soon as possible.  By the time I got home the bread was already soaked through and soggy.  
The one thing that I disliked about the sandwiches at Cam Huong is the bread.  The bread is too soft and lacks the initial crustiness when biting.  Also the bread is a little on the too sweet side.  The filling was average with nice crunchy pickled vegetables, but flavorless, tough meat.  Also, the mayo seem to be missing from all
The combo sandwich is a little skimpy on the meat.  The jalapeno peppers lack any type of spicy kick.
The shredded pork like the others were flavorless and disappointing.  Again, the bread is too soft.

Address:               Cam Huong Restaurant
                              920 Webster St.
                              Oakland, CA
Type:                     Vietnamese/sandwich

Popular chomps:    grilled pork sandwich
                                #1 special combo
Chomp worthy:       nothing         



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I usually go to Delica for lunch and I'm kinda obsessed with their crispy croquettes and tonkatsu pieces, which I find are the closest thing I've tasted to the ones I've had in Japan.  So this was a first for me to pop in during dinner time.  I was hoping to just pick up some curry (another favorite of mine here) and some crispy treats, but it was all sit down with a full menu.

There are happy hour weekday specials posted on their window.  The only one that looks appetizing to me is the Monday menu, which luckily for me was the day I visited.
I love tofu, but this tofu dish is up there with oddest tofu dish I've ever eaten.  The ingrediants: Cowgirl Creamery cheese, avocado, yuzu pesto, and white truffle oil made for an unlikely, but delicious combination.  The slightly crispy outside makes a nice contrast to the soft filling.

I was surprised to see how generous the portion was for the $10 chirashi special.  Slices of hokkigai (surf clam), hamachi, and scallop topped well made sushi rice.  The fish here was really fresh and sweet tasting.

At about more than double the price the regular chirashi bowl includes uni, fresh oyster, hamachi, roe, scallop, and maguro (tuna) slices.  Each piece was extremely fresh  and satisfying.

I've never ordered sashimi here, but out of the many times I've been to Delica, I've never come across anything bad.  Although the fat looks well marbled in the otoro sashimi, its missing the rich flavor.  It was the forgettable dish of the meal.
 The sliced duck is served slightly chilled with a ponzu sauce and yuzu jam.  The duck is slow roasted and served medium rare. Yum! 

Address:                Delica
                               1 Ferry Building Shop 45
                               San Francisco, CA
Type:                      Japanese

Popular chomps:    slow roast duck sashimi
                                grilled fried tofu
                                chirashi don
                                roast beef sushi
                                curry rice
                                potato croquette

Chomp worthy:       slow roast duck sashimi
                                 grilled fried tofu
                                 chirashi don
                                 roast beef sushi
                                 curry rice
                                 potato croquette 


Cafe Colucci

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Cafe Colucci is one of many Ethiopian restaurants speckled all over the Telegraph area of Berkeley and Oakland.  The outside seating makes it perfect for enjoying the sunshine and some good food on a gorgeous day.  One thing to note about Ethiopian food is that its served family style and not family style like Chinese food - its hands only, so make sure you are either not a hypochondriac and you eat with hygienic people so you can enjoy your food without wondering where someone's hands have been.
The tiny kitchen.

Every countries has their own version of a fried dumpling.  Ethiopia is no exception.  Sambussas are usually filled with either lentil or minced meat and wrapped in a thin pastry, then deep fried to a golden brown.  They have both the vegetarian (lentil) and meat at Cafe Colucci.  The meat sambussa is made of sauteed minced beef, olive oil, garlic, onions, red bell peppers, cilantro and jalapeno.  They have a nice light crisp similar to fried wontons.  Its not spicy at all and the the taste is a balanced mixture of all the ingredients.

Inside the meat sambussa you can see that the wrapper is quite thin.  However, it is a little oily.
The injera (enjera) bread is the major starch component of Ethiopian food.  Similar to that of naan in Indian cuisine, its used as a utensil, but in Ethiopia it is also used as a plate.  The injera is spongy and thin in texture with a slightly sour taste (think very mild sourdough bread).  It is unlike any other type of flatbread in both taste and texture.  I've had Ethiopian at a couple places and the presentation of the injera varies in each restaurant.  I really liked the rolled up injera here because it made it easy to hold in one hand as you ripped on pieces for scooping up your food.  Oddly enough, it reminds me of toilet paper.
To the untrained eye, this platter probably looks like a mess, but its actually a taste of a mixture of both the vegetable and meat combination plates.  Its a lot of food and probably feeds about 2-4 people per platter.  They don't really tell you what is what when they drop off the platter so the fun of it is playing the guessing game and trying out bits of everything.  The procedure is to rip up bits of the injera and scope up pieces of meat and vegetable with your hands using the injera and then eat.  You can also eat the injera layered on the bottom of the pan, which has soaked up the juices and flavors of all the dishes.  
I can't telling you exactly what is what, but the meat combination consists of doro alicha (seasoned chicken, fresh ginger, garlic, all in a tumeric sauce), begue wot (lamb cubes and shank with red and yellow onion in Berbere and garlic sauce), sega alicha (extra lean beef simmered in tumeric sauce), minchet abish wot (ground beef simmered with berbere, garlic, and Tekur Azmud aka bishop weed), gomen be sega (fresh collard greens, beef cubes, lamb and ribs with garlic ginger, onions and spiced butter).  The vegetarian combo has azifa (lentils, senafitch, garlic, onions, jalapenos, olive oil and lemon), buticha (chickpea, garlic, onions, jalapeno, and olive oil), messer wot (spicy legume, split lentils in Berbere sauce simmered in Bessobela, garlic, and red onions), kik-alicha (split pea in tumeric sauce with fresh garlic, ginger, Bessobela, and spices), gomen (collard greens, sauteed with onions, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil) and atakilt (cabbage, carrots & potatoes sauteed with onions, fresh tomatoes, ginger & garlic in tumeric sauce).  

Address:                    Cafe Colucci
                                   6427 Telegraph Ave.
Type:                          Ethiopian

Popular chomps:        veggie combo
                                    meat combo
                                    meat sambussa
                                    veggie sambussa
                                    honey wine
                                    kitfo special
                                    doro wat
                                    doro tibs
                                    assa tibs
                                    quanta firfir

Chomp worthy:           veggie combo
                                    meat combo
                                    meat sambussa     


Doughnut Dolly

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Doughnut Dolly is a cute pop up turned shop via Kickstarter.  It can be tricky to find, but there are small signs all over pointing you towards the handmade filled to order doughnuts.  If you know the Temescal area, its right around the corner from Bakesale Betty (see post HERE) so you can park around there and its a block away.

The signs point you down a small alley and the shop is on the right.  Just take notice of the small groups of people with doughnuts in hand and you'll know you're in the right area.
The fluffy doughnuts are fried in another location so they don't come hot, but they are filled to order.  There are three flavors (one per machine).  With a small poke and a pump, the sweet treat is made.  Its very similar to the way a cream puff from Beard Papa is made.  The fruit fillings are filled by hand by cutting a small slit in the doughnut and then gently stuffing the doughnut.  The flavors change regularly. 
The doughnut is about the size of a small fist, but its a good enough size to satisfy a sweet tooth and not feel sick from overindulging.  Its rolled in sugar so it can a bit messy when eating.
Even though the doughnuts aren't made on site, they are super fresh tasting with an amazing fluffy pillowy texture.  I imagine this is what clouds must taste like.  The naughty cream is a mixture of vanilla creme fraiche so its not too sweet.  Beware the explosion of the filling when taking your first bite!  The naughty cream is my favorite out of the three I tasted.
The raspberry jam filling is not as squirtable as the cream filled doughnuts, but still has an decent oozy quality.  The raspberry jam isn't as tart as I thought as it was going to be, but it was very fresh tasting. 
The chocolate hazelnut filling was surprisingly very liquidy.  I expected a more creamy or thick texture, but besides that it was delicious.

Address:                    Doughnut Dolly
                                   482 B 49th St.
                                   Oakland, CA

Type:                          dessert

Popular chomps:        naughty cream      
Chomp worthy:          naughty cream     


Boxing Room

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         Right around the corner from Absinthe (see post HERE) is their sister restaurant, Boxing Room.  Very different from the food at Absinthe, Boxing Room indulges the comfort food that can satisfy almost anyone- Southern cuisine.  Surprisingly, on a Thursday nite the restaurant was rather empty.   

A refreshing change from the usual bread and butter, the Boxing Room starts the taste buds with crackers and pimento cheese.  The cheese was rich, creamy, and a little spicy.  A possible foreshadowing of what's to come.

These savory fried balls of dough made for some delicious, but dense hushpuppy.  It came with a spreadable pepper jelly that reminded me of sweet and sour sauce.  The only other time I had pepper jelly was at Comstock Saloon (see post HERE), but theirs had a more peppery flavor. 

The gumbo is offered in two sizes.  The smaller size is good enough for two people to share.  Mixed with shredded chicken and huge slices of andouille sausage, the gumbo was a little salty and lacked any spiciness.  The white fluffy rice absorbed the stew nicely, but there could have been a little more rice. 
#23- Duck and Sausage Jambalaya at Boxing Room - 7x7's 2012 Top 100
One odd thing to note about this dish is that its made here with brown rice.  I didn't really notice any difference in taste or texture from the brown rice.  The rice was flavorful and delicious, but I thought the duck was the better part of the plate.  The duck was juicy and cooked to perfect, but just a tad salty.

One fried dish is not enough at a restaurant like this.  Fried chicken!  Three meaty pieces of fried chicken served on top a bed of collard greens with bacon-giblet gravy.  They give you vinegar for your collard greens and homemade hot sauce for your fried chicken.  Street cred?  Possibly because the fried chicken is legit.  It still doesn't knock Ad Hoc's Fried Chicken (see post HERE) off my pedestal, but its pretty frickin' good chicken.  The crust was crunchy without being oily and every bite chicken was ultra juicy.  The collard greens were ok, but better with a dash of vinegar.  The fried chicken was probably my favorite dish of the night and overshadowed anything else on the plate.
#10- Dirty Rice at Boxing Room - SF Foodie's 2012 50 dishes
The dirty rice is one of three choices of side dishes.  The others are braised greens with ham hock and cornbread muffins.  ($6 each or all 3 for $12).  This traditional Southern dish was made with rice, green peppers, onions, and celery.  Good, but nothing to rave about.

After a lot of heavy dishes, I almost didn't order dessert, but its such a must to order beignets at a Southern restaurant.  The beignets here were surprisingly light as a feather.  Each bite was like biting into air with a sweet note.  Don't inhale for fear of choking on the powder sugar. 

Address:                   Boxing Room
                                  399 Grove St.
                                  San Francisco, CA
Type:                         Southern/Cajun/Creole

Popular chomps:       jambalaya (Thursdays only)
                                   fried chicken
                                   dirty rice
                                   hush puppies
                                   shrimp po'boy
                                   fried alligator
                                   boudin balls

Chomp worthy:          jambalaya
                                   fried chicken


Little Lucca's

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So I've heard Little Lucca sandwich shop and deli is better than Ike's.  Its pretty big talk so I had to check it out for myself.
Even arriving close to open, the line was already out the door.  It probably took about 40 minutes to get a sandwich in hand.  If you do get a sandwich here, I recommend calling an order in.  It will still take around an hour for pickup though.
The modest shop has about 4 people making sandwiches, but they take their time here and each sandwich is made with care.
The sandwiches are huge here.  They are probably the largest sandwiches I've seen in the Bay Area.  Much bigger than Ike's so one sandwich is more than enough for two people to share.  At around $8 dollars a sandwich, it's a good deal.

The two things they are known for here are the dutch crunch and the garlic spread.  Each of the sandwiches comes with both the garlic spread and hot pepper sauce.  You'll find that most of the customers will ask for extra garlic sauce.  Both can be purchased in the store.
The fire roasted steak sandwich seems to be the most popular sandwich here.  Between two slices of bread are fire roasted New York sirloin, carmelized onions, melted cheese of your choice (this one has pepperjack), and a GENEROUS squirt of caesar dressing.  Originally I wasn't going to ask for extra garlic sauce, but everyone seemed to be doing that so I went for it on this sandwich.  First of all, this sandwich is nothing like Ike's sandwich.  Its more a hearty deli sandwich than a monstrous creation that Ike produces.  The dutch crunch is nothing out of the ordinary and I think Roxie's dutch crunch bread is MUCH better (see post HERE).  The sirloin is thinly sliced and it has way too much sauce so that you don't get to taste much of the actual sandwich.  The sandwiches here don't come toasted, but they do microwave the meat before putting it on the sandwich.  There is so much sauce lathered on the sandwich that it soaks into the bottom layer of the bread creating a soggy platform for the ingredients.  Not really impressed much with the sandwich or the pesto looking garlic sauce.  If you do take one of these hefty sandwiches home, I recommend toasting it at home.

The Luccas's Spicy Buffalo was another disappointment.  The buffalo chicken strips were already precooked and cold before being popped into the microwave.   Again, more sauces (Ranch, buffalo sauce, garlic sauce, hot pepper sauce) were generously spread.  The chicken lacked any type of crunchy batter since it was microwaved.  I actually ate half one day and then toasted the other half the day after.  10x better toasted, but still not enough for me to rave about.

Address:                  Little Lucca Sandwich Shop & Deli
                                 724 El Camino Real
                                 South San Francisco, CA
Type:                        Italian/sandwich

Popular chomps:      fire roasted steak sandwich
                                  buffalo chicken sandwich
                                  garlic sauce
                                  dutch crunch bread
Chomp worthy:         nothing      


Champa Garden

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East Oakland is one of the areas in the Bay Area you can get good Lao food.  Champa Garden and Vientian Cafe (see post HERE) are probably two of the more popular Lao restaurants.  Champa Garden is even Michelin recommended.  Lao food is one of the foods that can make my mouth water just at the sound of it.  The multiple flavor combinations of spicy, sour, sweet, and tangy from South East Asian foods is unlike any other cuisine.  
Beerlao is one of the more popular beers in Laos and you can get it by the case at Champa Garden.  Its made with jasmine rice, hops, and yeast.
I recommend getting the sampler here because it has a couple of the popular dishes so you can get a taste without committing to the full dish.  From left: fried spring rolls, rice noodles, saigock (Lao sausage), and nam kaow(fried rice ball salad).  Everything in this sample is amazing.  The fried spring roll is lightly deep fried and with the sweet and sour sauce makes for a delicious bite.  The Lao sausage is juicy and flavorful.  The best thing on this sample is the nam kaow.  The nam kao is made up of crispy fried rice, preserved pork, green onions, peanuts, and lime juice.  Each bite has a little crisp from the rice, a crunch from the peanuts, and a little sourness from the lime juice.     
A plate of lettuce and fresh sprigs of mint are used to wrap the the nam kaow in.  The lettuce and mint leaves give each bite a fresh taste.
 The Lao style beef larp (larb) is made with minced beef, mint, onions, cilantro, and lime juice.  Although I asked for very spicy, which according to Lao standards should be a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10, it was probably somewhere around a 3.  Somewhat disappointing and I have to give points to Vientian Cafe for legit spiciness and sour flavors. 

Angel wings are stuffed chicken wings filled with minced pork, clear thin noodles, and mushrooms and then battered and fried.  I've had angel wings a couple times before this and the angel wings here are one of the better ones I've had.  The meat is tender and flavorful with a light batter for a little crunchy texture.  The sauce has a sweet and tangy taste that gives the dish complex flavors. 
Each of the three wings are cut in half.  You can see the minced meats and noodles surrounded by a thin layer of chicken meat.

Address:                 Champa Garden
                                2102 8th Ave.
                                Oakland, CA
Type:                       Laotian/Thai

Popular chomps:     angel wings
                                 nam kaow (rice ball salad)
                                 papaya salad (Lao style)
                                 beef larb (Lao style)
                                 Champa sampler
                                 Kaow soy (Lue's Noodle Soup)
                                 Lao sausage
                                 pair of quails

Chomp worthy:        angel wings
                                 nam kaow (rice ball salad)
                                 Champa sampler
                                  beef larb (Lao style)
                                  Lao sausage                       


My Tofu House

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The nights in the city have been getting colder making me yearn for some good soups.  Most of the Korean spots are in the Sunset and the Richmond district of San Francisco.  My Tofu House, one of the more popular Korean spots in the city, is best known for their soondubu aka tofu soup.  The restaurant closing time is usually 10p, but they stop serving food and seating people 30 minutes before the closing time.
The grilled fish have a crispy exterior and a light delicate flavor.
6 banchan (panchan) here including the grilled fish (from right;clockwise): kimchee, spicy radish, fishcake, pickled cucumber, beansprouts.  All the banchan were pretty average with no standouts.  The fishcake and the pickled cucumbers are always my favorites.
There are numerous choices of tofu soups here.  The assorted mushroom tofu soup comes with button, enoki, and oyster mushrooms.  I ordered it very spicy, but the spicy level came out pretty mild.  Also, both the mushroom and the soft tofu was a little sparse.  Overall, its the best that I've had in the city, but I still prefer so Gong Dong Tofu House in Palo Alto (see post HERE).
The beef bibimbap here has a raw egg instead of the commonly seen fried egg, which was a pleasant surprise.  The stone pot is heated nicely so it made for some really good crispy bits of rice.

Address:                My Tofu House
                               4627 Geary Blvd
                               San Francisco, CA 
Type:                      Korean/soup

Popular chomps:    tofu soup

Chomp worthy:       tofu soup