Oakland


Mua

Mua

2442a Webster St.

Oakland, CA 94612

(510) 238-1100

I tried out a new place in Oakland the other day called Mua. It is in the real interesting Uptown area of Oakland, one that you would not expect for a restaurant but is slowly growing. It seems like they are trying to cater to the Oakland Murmur crowd, a monthly artist gallery get together that happens the first Friday of every month, and it looks like they have a good thing going.

This place is searching for an identity… or maybe not. Mixed in with asian fusion tapas is fried chicken, burgers, and lamb tagine, all with a choice of fries or kimchi as sides. It’s kind of representative of Oakland itself with it’s mix of ethnicities and cuisine. Oakland people are diverse, but it’s the food, the drinks, and now the art that brings people together.

The space is spacious, though you would never guess from the small doors that one can easily walk by on the street. Once you enter you are greeted with a beautiful long bar that opens up to a very open space of tables, with a second level of couches and tables that are reminiscent of a hip warehouse tea house. It’s simple with exposed walls and art all around the area. There was a DJ set up one end of the room as well.

Burger @ Mua

I only sampled the hamburger and I have to say that it was surprisingly tasty. It came medium, like I ordered it. It was no frills (which is a good thing), with no chipotle ketchup or wasabi mayonnaise. Just simple ingredients like the patty, lettuce, a little onion, and some condiments. The burger was salty, moist, and most importantly stayed complete throughout the whole meal. Even though juicy tidbits dribbled onto the plate, not once did a fissure appear on the crust, threatening to soggy up the bread split into two. Aside from 900 Grayson, this has to be one of my favorite burgers around. The fries weren’t bad, but didn’t make an impression, which was a shame since it would have really completed the meal.

I definitely have to come back to try the other items on the menu, but most importantly to see what the space is like during the night with the full bar going and some music playing. Either way, this has become a welcome discovery for a new lunch destination. I was trying to figure out what Mua meant, if it meant anything in Korea (the owner seems to be Korean), but a friend of mine had a good theory that it might be an onomatopoeia of the sound of one blowing a kissing the air – “mua”!

To find Mua, go to the Broadway Auto Row section of Oakland. It is across from God’s Gym (if you are familiar with Oakland, then you will know this gym).

Work has been hectic so it’s been hard to update, so I apologize for the infrequency of my posts. Things are getting better so I hope to get more posts out in lesser intervals.

Anyways,

I was watching a show about cocktails on Hulu called Great Cocktails, getting ready for our cocktail party and they featured a bartender from SF, from a bar called Cantina. This reminded me of a new place in Oakland called Camino. From the website it seems like the restaurant is about local and fresh produce and not trying to have a huge menu, but just a few things, but done fresh and right. Similar to Bar Jules, one of my favorite new restaurants, I have high hopes for this place, although it seems to be getting some mixed reviews. Time will tell, and I must go check it out soon.

b-boys in old oakland

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I have a backlog of posts that I’m trying to get through but while on vacation it was very hard to motivate to do anything.

I’m back from my vacation (posts to come soon), so here goes.

Old Oakland is buzzing. It’s slowly coming together and there is just something about it that I love. I love the atmosphere, the people, the fact that everyone I know that lives in Oakland is proud of it. It’s always hard to live in the shadow of the more well known city (like Baltimore and D.C.), but it’s that underdog attitude that attracts and binds. It is seldom you will hear any San Franciscan say that they are proud of The Mission, or The Haight, both similar neighborhoods to Old Oakland. It used to be that to have a cosmopolitan night out you had to venture across the Bay Bridge, but with great restaurants like Tamarindo, B, and Levende East, and great bars like The Trappist, you don’t have to venture far.

Just the other day there was an art opening for a show at FiveTen Gallery. They had blocked at street to celebrate with b-boys strutting their stuff on the side walk. With all the hype about the crime in Oakland, it’s great to see just people enjoying themselves out at night.

Nama

The Dimond district is changing slowly. First came the large Farmer Joe’s, then a Peet’s coffee, then La Farine, and now Nama, where an old diner used to be. It really shows a change in the neighborhood once a sushi place opens. There even is an Indian place opening up a few doors down as well.

Nama represents a change in the neighborhood. It just goes to show the wide spread acceptance of sushi as a cuisine in Oakland when it ventures outside of the Rockridge and Grand Lake areas.

The interior is nicely laid out with an open space feel. There was a buzz in the air as people stopped by to read the menu outside and a steady stream of people came inside. The menu looks like a typical sushi/Japanese restaurant, with a variety of rolls and a compliment of hot entrees such as donburi, udon, and soba, though the BBQ ribs on the menu tips off that the place is Korean run (you can order hwedupbap here, sometimes referred to as sashimi salad, but known here as spicy chirashi) The prices also seem on par with other places like Miyozen and Drunken Fish.

Nama

I didn’t get to eat in, but I did get takeout. I ordered the Chicken Nan Ban, which is a deep fried chicken with a tonkatsu-like taste. It wasn’t overly breaded and the plethora of vegetables was nice. It wasn’t overly sweet either. Nothing stellar, but nothing bad either.

Nama

The spicy chirashi (hwedupbap) was a little pricey at $19 but it came with plenty of sashimi, and all the fixings. It was nicely seasoned but Miyozen offers a better version of this Korean dish. The caterpillar roll was typical of all caterpillar rolls though it wasn’t over sauced, which was nice. I didn’t try any of the sushi besides the caterpillar roll.

Though nothing jumped out at me, the quality of the food was on par with your average neighborhood sushi joint. I will have to go back and have the full dining experience at the bar but I don’t have high hopes for the sushi, since I am very picky about my sushi. The hot dishes however seem to have potential for me coming back for more, especially for take out (since it is on my way home from work). Nama is a great addition to the area and they have my best wishes for its success.

King of Thai coming to Alameda

King of Thai Noodle House is coming to Alameda. That San Francisco fast food staple that is King of Thai, with it’s multiple locations, is making the trek over to the East Bay. First Burma Super Star, and now King of Thai. There is just something about the island city that is attracting the City by the Bay. I’m not sure when exactly it will be open but it is taking over the old Araujos location on Park St. and Pacific Ave.

Even though in Berkeley you could throw a stick and hit 2 Thai restaurants on the way, there is just something about King of Thai. If you haven’t been to the vary many locations of King of Thai, then you have been missing out on very simple, quick, and cheap eats. My favorites being the crab fried rice and the thai fried chicken over rice. Stay tuned for more info as I find out more.

fresh pepper and house made pancetta pizza @ pizzaiolo

What more can you expect from a place that features freshly made pizza and pasta from local produce. One of the trifecta restaurants in the new Gourmet Ghetto in Oakland in the Temescal district is Pizzaiolo (the other two being Doña Thomás, and Bake Sale Betty IMHO). There is always a bit of a wait, but it is well worth it. You can sit at a table, the bar, or outside in the back. The bar, by the way, has an excellent selection of liquors and interesting, fresh cocktails that change frequently.

We started out with the salt cod that was baked in the pizza oven. It came out as a gooey casserole like dish (in a good way). The salt wasn’t as overbearing as I had thought it would be and had a nice subtleness to it. It came with fresh toast so you could spread the cod over like butter.

what's left of a parpadelle with oxtail ragout @ pizzaiolo

Our secondi was fresh parpadelle pasta with a lamb ragout. I’m a huge fan of parpadelle ever since I had the magical pasta in New York at Babbo. So whenever I see it on a menu I must try it out. I am really glad I went with my gut (pun intended), and got this dish. Initially I was going to have it all to myself, but it turned out the pizza oven was backed up and our pizza would come out a little later, we decided to split the pasta and pizza between us. I was sad that I couldn’t have this delicious pasta all to myself, but my friend was sure happy that he got to share. The gaminess of the lamb just peaked over the ragout base and blended perfectly with the wide amounts of pasta.

Our pizza finally arrived right after we were finishing up the pasta. It was a new pizza on the menu that day, fresh peppers and house made pancetta pizza. The pancetta paired nicely with the acidity of the pepper on a light white sauce. The pizza dough itself stayed together with a nice crust underneath and on the outer pie. I’m not a huge fan of non tomato sauced pizzas, so this one was definitely good, but not my favorite. My friend agreed and was even happier that we shared the meals since his highlight was also the pasta.

My wife and I are trying to find that regular restaurant where when you walk in you know the staff and they know you. It’s been a toss up between B in Old Oakland, and this one. With the parpadelle, Pizzaiolo just went into the lead.

yume rules

Although I have been to Yume many times, it is sometimes hard to go there. I believe that Yume has one of the best sushi in the east bay. There is better sushi in the city but for the price and convenience of driving to Alameda, Yume is a clear choice. From what I heard, Hideki-san used to be a sushi chef at a very trendy and busy sushi restaurant in San Francisco. He then retired from sushi making, only to miss it dearly. He then sought out to find the smallest restaurant space so that he could open up his own sushi-ya and continue to make delicious sushi while his wife waited on the patrons. What was once a small bar that fits 8 (I think), and 2 tables that could fit 4 each, has whittled down to just one table that fits four, to just 1 table that fits 2, for a restaurant that only seats 10 at once.

What is even more surprising is that there was always a rule that you could not bring parties of 4 our more. So if Courtney and I wanted to bring another couple to Yume, it was forbidden. You could bring just 1 friend with you for a total of 3 people. Now that has changed as well. Yume now has a new sign outside their entryway which clearly states that they ONLY accept parties of 3 BEFORE 5:30pm. Given that Yume only opens at 5pm, one only has a 30 minute window to eat with 2 of your friends. I even tried to get a seat at 6pm but was turned away when I clearly had a party of 3.

They are also clear about no seat trickery. I have heard stories of people trying to act as if 2 separate parties of 2 meet up by “accident”. Hideki-san will have none of that. I also heard of someone who brought a friend and then found out that his wife wanted to join them. The person asked Hideki-san if it was okay for his wife to join him seeing that there was plenty of room at the bar, and Hideki-san said it was against the rules. However he did allow the patron to then swap places with his wife so that the party remained just 2 people.

If you can get past the strict rules and want fresh sushi, then check it out.

Yume Sushi in Alameda. Look for the small placard next to a non-descript entryway leading to stairs.

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