I was on my way to the heart of Chinatown when I noticed that Cafe Gabriela, a newish coffee-centric spot on the same block as the Courtyard hotel, had a sign out advertising sandwiches, the first of which was pulled pork adobo- I immediately stepped inside.
It appears to be a one-woman operation; the charming young lady who took my order from behind the register donned plastic gloves and stepped to the side to assemble my sandwich.
I barely had time to flip through half of one of the copies of Juxtapoz sitting on the long, narrow counter fronting the sidewalk before my sandwich ($7) was ready.
Said sandwich, on a Bread Workshop baguette with perfect balance between resistant yet crunchy crust and pillowy dense interior, was a revelation.
I'm not an authority on adobo but this pork tasted what I imagine Filipino home cooks would hold out as a fair standard. I would gladly eat this with rice. The faint yet identifiable aroma of laurel carries subtly through into the flavor of the shredded pork, where it meets a nice vinegary tang. A note of soy occasionally steps forward from the background to add a slightly salty note to the tender yet toothsome, porky meat. A hint of braising liquid just begins to flirt with the baguette's interior, coyly seeping in to provide counterpoint to the not-quite crusty crust. A tangle of sauteed onions atop the meat adds sweetness; this is a well-balanced sandwich.
There was a vegetarian offering and a turkey-cranberry affair as well, but I can't imagine myself getting beyond the adobo. Between this and Uncle Dougie's, I could be persuaded to eat sandwiches for lunch every workday.
Today I walked in by happenstace; next time, which will be soon, will be by design.
988 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607