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nibbling notes from North Oakland

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Restaurants & Bars 3

nibbling notes from North Oakland

kimchee | Dec 6, 2003 10:08 PM

Had some great little dishes lately and thought I'd share.

BAJA TAQUERIA: Piedmont Ave.
I think this is the my favorite fish taco so far. Their sign says it's their house specialty and the best in town and I believe it. The fish filet had a very flavorful marinade and was juicy and tender. The corn tortillas were so soft and fluffy. They're served with a pico de gallo which was just okay, but I found the salsa verde to be great - not too tangy. Hot and mild red sauces great too. Chips were good but beans and rice were less than memorable. I have been craving more tacos since the moment I left there. Anyone ever tried any of their lobster dishes (burritos or quesadillas: wasn't sure enough to spend the $10)?

NAN YANG: College Ave.
Finally got around to trying this place and was quite impressed with the diversity of Burmese food. Can't wait to try all the other great-sounding things (squash or pea soups, green mango salad, curried knishes, jicama dishes). Started with the fried potato cakes made with chili, curry, and onion. Couldn't taste those flavors too much and it was actually nothing more than glorified potato pancakes, but the tomato garlic dipping sauce was great (served with other apps too). I had the house specialty garlic noodles with seafood - flat linguine-style noodles with light-curry garlic sauce + scallops, mussels, prawns, and calamari and assorted veggies. Delightful! Not heavy curry at all. It had at least 5 large scallops too. My companion had the curried okra with onions and peppers. This was actually too salty I thought but the okra was cooked to perfection and the other flavors mingled well.

GRASSHOPPER: College Ave.
Lunch of curried carrot soup along with seared tuna over lemongrass-sauteed veggies. Everyone on this board usually says the plates are too small and pricey but the tuna steak was huge and this lunch stuffed me for around $12. The carrot soup was silky and wel-spiced - curry not too overt.

Also went to ZAX on Telegraph in Berkeley for a quick bite. Just a warm-pressed portobella sandwich and mixed greens w/walnuts salad but I plan to return often. Friendly staff, reasonable prices, pleasant atmosphere with nice art plus I like places where I can eat at the bar with a good wine and spirits list (I'm addicted to Hangar One Mandarin Blossom Orange and Kaffir Lime vodkas...by far the best infused vodkas on the market). Next up will be their smoked trout niscoise salad, horseradish mashed potatoes (comfort food because it is winter afterall) and pomegranate sorbet. Can't wait. Everyone at the bar was telling tales of the previous restaurant there and how the whole place was held up at machine-gunpoint.

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