October 19, 2021

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Simply The Best Food

Save Our Chinatowns recipe zine; Inauguration Day specials and meals

Save Our Chinatowns is selling copies of its “Have You Eaten Yet?” zine and artist-designed Lunar New Year envelopes to raise money for three Oakland Chinatown businesses. Photo: Save Our Chinatowns

“Have You Eaten Yet?” a zine about the people and food of Oakland Chinatown

In Chinese culture, food is so important to the fabric of life and community, that a common way to greet others is to ask, “Have you eaten yet?” So the phrase is a fitting name for a new zine that focuses on the food and people in Oakland Chinatown. Artists and designers of grassroots initiative Save Our Chinatowns, in partnership with Good Good Eatz, created “Have You Eaten Yet?”, which features bite-sized, well-designed articles on the history of Oakland Chinatown, interviews with notable Oakland residents, restaurant recommendations and other resources on how to support Chinatown business, as well as recipes from the owners of Yuen Hop Noodle Company (for lo mein), Green Fish Seafood Market (for seafood hot pot) and Cam Anh Deli (for lemongrass tofu).

Daphne Wu, co-founder of Oakland Cocktail Week, wrote and edited the stories in “Have You Eaten Yet?” Wu said she was inspired to get involved with the project when she saw Save Our Chinatowns’ founder Jocelyn Tsaih was looking for volunteer contributors. “It’s a cause near and dear to my heart as a Bay Area native whose family has roots in Chinatowns. Oakland Chinatown is often in the shadows of San Francisco Chinatown, and it’s rewarding to shine the spotlight on these many businesses and community building efforts,” Wu told Nosh.

Starting Monday, Jan. 25, Save Our Chinatowns will sell copies of “Have You Eaten Yet?” ($25) as well as five-packs of local artist-designed Lunar New Year red envelopes ($15). All proceeds will go to Yuen Hop, Green Fish Seafood Market and Cam Anh Deli. “We hope this fundraiser not only inspires everyone to financially support Oakland Chinatown,” Wu said, “but to truly appreciate it for what it is — a living, breathing community serving its residents.”

Inauguration Day specials

Several East Bay food businesses are celebrating Inauguration Day and the new administration with day-of special menus and offerings.

Augie’s Montreal Deli — at its brand new location near Fourth Street — is giving out free frites with any order to anyone who comes in and mentions President Biden or Vice President Harris today. Augie’s Montreal Deli, 700 Essex Way (at University Avenue), Berkeley

Gather in Berkeley is offering 15% off online orders today with code “NEWPREZ.” Gather Kitchen, Bar & Market, 2200 Oxford St. (at Allston Way), Berkeley

Itani Ramen and Nikkei Sushi are offering free delivery today (from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.) for orders made online through the website with code “INAUGURATION2021.”  Nikkei Sushi and Itani Ramen, 1736 Telegraph Ave. (between 17th and 19th streets), Oakland

From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. today, both locations of Grand Lake Kitchen will be serving up an Inauguration special, which comes with a classic Americana burger (beef patty with cheddar cheese, pickles, pickled red onion, tomato and mayo), fries, mini bottle of Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine and an American flag. Priced at $21.20, the meal is available for takeout or delivery, but limited to diners 21 and over. Grand Lake Kitchen, 576 Grand Ave. (between MacArthur Boulevard and Euclid Avenue); 2042 MacArthur Blvd. (near Fruitvale Avenue), Oakland

Homestead's dinner this week includes apple pie. Photo: Homestead
Homestead’s dinner this week includes apple pie. Photo: Homestead

Homestead is also serving up comforting American classics this entire week. Its dinner prix fixe takeout menu — available through Jan. 23 — features surf and turf BBQ (slow roasted baby back ribs and grilled prawns) with BBQ baked beans, braised greens, fennel and kohlrabi slaw, corn bread, chopped salad and caramel apple pie with whipped cream. The meal serves two for $130. Call 510-420-6962 to place an order for pickup. Homestead, 4029 Piedmont Ave. (between 40th and 41st streets), Oakland

Pomella on Piedmont is frying up its version of Indian street food Aloo Bonda (deep-fried chickpea flour and potato balls) in honor of Vice President Kamala Harris. The special is $7 and comes with five pieces and a side of coconut chutney. For dessert, there’s red, white and blue rainbow cookies — two for $3.50, or 4 for $6.50. Pomella, 3770 Piedmont Ave. (at Yosemite Avenue), Oakland

Pomella offers aloo bonda to celebrate Vice President Kamala Harris. Photo: Pomella
Pomella offers Indian street snack aloo bonda to celebrate Vice President Kamala Harris. Photo: Pomella

Pill Hill’s Petit Cafe is offering a free “blue wave” snickerdoodle cookie with a purchase of a specialty coffee drink or food item. Petit Cafe, 411 30th St. (at Summit Street), Oakland

Ready to raise a beer or glass of wine to Biden and Harris? Roses’ Taproom in Temescal is giving away an extra can of beer for every two bottles or 4-packs purchased for takeout on today through 7 p.m. Roses’ Taproom, 4930 Telegraph Ave. (between 49th and 51st streets), Oakland

Dar Couscous serves up a taste of Tunisia

Maryam, a medley of stewed seasonal vegetables and legumes top a bed of couscous, from Dar Couscous in Oakland. Photo: Dar Couscous
Maryam, a medley of stewed seasonal vegetables and legumes top a bed of couscous, from Dar Couscous in Oakland. Photo: Dar Couscous

Before he opened Dar Couscous, a new takeout-only Tunisian restaurant operating out of Oakland ghost kitchen hub Jingletown Eats, chef-owner Ali Jaoua was in the financial tech industry for 25 years. Dar Couscous is his first restaurant, but Jaoua told Nosh he’s always loved cooking traditional Tunisian food, and his friends and family have long told him he should get into the food business to share his culinary talent with others. When COVID hit, Jaoua decided it was his opportunity to give a try. “It’s not about making money, it’s more about me making my food and have people enjoy it,” Jaoua said, adding that he feels a desire to share a taste of Tunisia with the East Bay, as there aren’t any other dedicated Tunisian restaurants in the area.

When he opened Dar Couscous earlier this month, he started off with a simple menu of four couscous dishes: chicken, beef meatballs, seasonal vegetables and legumes, or a combination of chicken and meatballs over steamed couscous in a light turmeric and harissa-spiced tomato sauce. Jaoua says Tunisian couscous is finer than the standard version you’ll find in the United States; he imports his from Canada. All Dar Couscous dishes come with a healthy dollop of his homemade harissa, or hot chili pepper paste, which comes in three heat levels and adds a big punch of flavor. According to Jaoua, Tunisian food is “spiced, but not spicy.” Along with harissa, his dishes get their oomph from flavorful spices like coriander, caraway seeds and bay leaves.

After one week in business, Jaoua has decided to expand the Dar Couscous menu; he’s currently closed while he adds another 8-10 dishes to the line-up. He aims to reopen Dar Couscous sometime next week, with additional dishes like shakshuka, Tunisian sandwiches, tajine (which in Tunisia is more like a frittata than the Moroccan-style tagine many of us know) and desserts that he’s sourcing from a Tunisian baker on the East Coast. Dar Couscous’ regular hours will be 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday through Wednesday. Takeout orders can be made on the Dar Couscous website; delivery is also available via Doordash, Uber Eats, Postmates, Grubhub and Flipdish. Dar Couscous at Jingletown Eats, 2353 E. 12th St. (at Miller Avenue), Oakland    

Two other newly opened spots in Oakland

A latte from States Coffee. Photo: Emilie Raguso
A latte from States Coffee. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The first East Bay location of yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) restaurant Gyu-Kaku opened in Old Oakland last week. As Nosh reported in September, Gyu-Kaku is an international chain with more than 700 locations, where during non-pandemic times, diners could grill meats and other foods on tabletop grills. With indoor and outdoor dining still closed in Alameda County, Gyu-Kaku is currently open for takeout and delivery (via Uber Eats) only. The to-go menu currently features specials, including bento and bowl combos, appetizers, noodles and family meals. Gyu-Kaku is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily. Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ, 459 Eighth St. (at Broadway), Oakland

Coffee and freshly baked artisan breads (think baguettes and country sourdough loaves) are the draw at the newest States Coffee location on 40th Street in North Oakland, which opened this past Sunday. States, a Martinez-based roastery, took over both cafes formerly run by Subrosa Coffee; its other Oakland cafe, in the Longfellow neighborhood, opened in November. States Coffee, 419 40th St. (near Shafter Avenue), Oakland 

Mise en Place Kitchen now serving dinner and brunch

Brazilian-style crepes, filled with ground beef, mozzarella cheese and marina sauce, was a recent dinner offering at Mise en Place Kitchen in Berkeley. Photo: Mise en Place Kitchen
Brazilian-style crepes, filled with ground beef, mozzarella cheese and marina sauce, was a recent dinner offering at Mise en Place Kitchen in Berkeley. Photo: Mise en Place Kitchen

If you were one of the lucky locals to order a Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve dinner from Mise en Place Kitchen, you’ll likely be excited to hear the downtown Berkeley cafe has recently expanded its menu to offer dinner on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Each day offers a different menu of three or four dishes (so far dishes have been varied, including Moroccan chicken, Ropa Vieja, Brazilian-style savory crepes and vegan Thai red lentil soup); prices vary, but range from $10-$14 each. Meals must be pre-ordered by 8 p.m. the day before pickup.

Mise en Place is also offering two brunch options for pickup on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Choose from the Wake Me Up Box ($15) with an assortment of four pastries and two drip coffees or the bountiful Brunch Box for one ($21), featuring yogurt and granola parfait, croissant, scrambled eggs with chives, smoked salmon or bacon, fruit and a cookie. As with its dinner menu, brunch must be ordered by 8 p.m. the day before pickup.

Brunch and dinner pickup hours aside, Mise en Place Kitchen is currently open for daytime takeout — for delectable cheese waffle tartines, bagel sandwiches, smoothies and coffee drinks — from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Mise en Place Kitchen, 2020 Kittredge St. (between Milivia Street and Shattuck Avenue), Suite C, Berkeley  

Alameda Restaurant Week

Last, but not least, Alameda Restaurant Week starts tomorrow, Jan. 21, and runs through Jan. 31. So far, restaurants include Spinning Bones, Alley & Vine, Speisekammer, East Ocean Seafood, East End, Malaya Tea Room, Bhan Mae Van, Preacher’s Daughter, Hob Nob, the Star on Park, and others with prix fixe meals, cocktails and other specials for the event. Check the website for participating restaurants and what each spot is offering.