reaching the top of the hills on the city's western edge, we got a peek at the ocean, bright under the late afternoon sun. just after six, the families filling the restaurant filled the place with a loud buzz.
our standard for the dish was set by the long departed Sam's in downtown Oakland, an outlier both in location (neither chinatown nor uptown) and in the high standards of the chef. he left the bones in his perfectly dressed bird and used meaty, free range chicken, giving an equal balance between meat and stuffing.
in Hakka's version, the bird is deboned, the meat diced and incorporated into the copious quantity of stuffing, making the perfectly crisp outer skin look like an inflated, pale gold, chicken balloon. that skin manages to have the flavour and crunch of a fantasy fried chicken while avoiding any excess in salt or greasiness, impressive. the stuffing maintains a balanced, mild equilibrium between the rice, chicken meat, finely diced lop cheung, and a hint of oyster sauce. the big platter could easily feed six with a few other dishes, a bargain at $28.
two of the other dishes we tried there were quite good. mi querida esposa tried pig's stomach for the first time ever for her (recently having been converted to the virtues of properly prepared beef tripe) -- the preparation with XO sauce, sugar snap peas, green Chinese squash, two kinds of mushrooms was the fanciest prep of the humble ingredient (simple stuff one of the features of Hakka cooking) in my experience. they weren't timid with the XO, and the touch of seafood and picante it contributed to the pork would probably make the dish feel at home on an Iberian table. our plate of stuffed, pan fried dou fu had the flan-like texture that results from correct technique. we enjoyed a full bodied, dark brown Belgian ale with the food, 'McChouffe', brassierie D'Achouffe's take off from what a Scottish gnome would brew if he immigrated to Belgium.