During lunchtime, (with a few exceptions) I've been picking off places just off Shattuck, west to northwest of the UC Berkeley Campus. Here's the highlights:
Lots of basement bargain Chinese places. My pick is New Chinese Express (not Chinese Express) for cheap and fairly well cooked food. Good variety on the steam table.
We had a great time at Udon, Sandwiches of Addison, a tiny place on Addison. The udon itself was fine, but the seafood in it was perfectly cooked -- crunchy prawns, tender mussels, and snappy squid. Loves the chilli powder/sesame mix that one stirred into the flavorful broth. They piled us with complementary California rolls and inari (sweet tofu with rice - did I get that right?) as well was bottled water - must be trying to attract customers as it's a new place.
At Tibet Cafe I had beef momos - essentially well crafted beef dumplings with a coat of starchy coriander sauce. Comes with mixed green salad. The star here, however, is the smoky and pungent ground chilli sauce -- heavy and deep in its earthy heat. It brings gravity to the dumplings and the lighgt coriander. Delicious!
Bun at the Pho House on University was also excellent. Great fresh flavors, and tight meaty imperial rolls. Pork could use more charry flavors but not a big deal. A sauteed eggplant came with flowery cuts of crunchy cuttlefish -- just the right amount of snap. Good Vietnamese spring rolls too.
Oscar's has a fine basic burger. A good unfancy deal.
Papa's Persian might hit some exotic notes, but I thought the decent fesenjoon (sp?) wasn't as good as the one I had at Kasra on Clement in SF. Papa's version was fine and subtle, more curry-like, but I was hoping for brighter and more forward pomegranate and walnut flavors.
Taiwan Cafe is a total clone of Taiwan Restaurant on Clement. Pretty good deal with siimilar cooking.
New Hong Kong was merely OK for lunch specials, although they spot low prices between 3-6pm. I suspect dinner there could be a good deal, with their repeitoire of seafood dishes.
We spotted Sean Penn at La Note, a Cali-french-Mediterrenean place that reminds me of Zazie on Cole in SF, right down to the font on the menu. Similar quality that hovers firmly in the mid-range. Good and enjoyable, but not mindblowing by any means. Equally good was nearby Venus.
On my list to hit next:
Mr Pizzaman for brazilian chow
the hole in a wall pizza place on shattuck (I think)
Pasta Pacifico (had a perfumy lemon cake there)