Tongan to Go

Tongan Kitchen may well be the only place to try Tongan food in the Bay Area. It’s not so much a restaurant as a steam table within Oakland’s Bay Cafe, but it’s surprisingly tasty steam table food, says rworange. Mostly a takeout joint frequented by Tongans, the place offers various combos, the “blowout” version being three mains and two sides for $10.

Roast beef may not be what you’d associate with the cuisine of a South Pacific island nation, but it’s excellent here: huge, flavorful strips of it, with a salty outer crust. Also good: fatty (in a good way) roast pork, blended into a lightly spicy mix of vegetables including zucchini, summer squash, onions, and tiny green chiles; tasty patties of chopped pork wrapped in greens; and a lamb dish with a hint of curry.

To drink, get yourself a glass of the delicious otai, a kind of agua fresca made with coconut milk and fruit (pineapple, in this case). Also on the menu: fish in coconut milk, cooked and raw; and fresh octopus cooked in coconut sauce.

Weekends mean Mom is in the kitchen, and there is roast pig and desserts like pineapple custard pie, battered fried bananas drizzled with sweet coconut glaze, and fried dough with coconut pineapple ice cream.

If tasting the cuisine puts anyone in the mood for Tongan groceries, Robert Lauriston points out they can be had at Mangal’s, in San Leandro.

Tongan Kitchen [East Bay]
2818 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland
510-482-4741

Mangal’s Market LLC [East Bay]
1699 E. 14th Street, San Leandro
510-352-3337

Board Link: Oakland: Tongan Kitchen - Otai, roasted pig, faikakai, lolo, lo’l feke and Philly cheese steaks

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