Listen, I know that Thomas Keller is Napa’s patron saint of fine dining and all things trendy, but really all I care about is his fried chicken at Addendum. Addendum is essentially the outdoor lunch expansion at Yountville’s Ad Hoc (sans booze), and it’s stolen the show. Open only Thursdays through Saturdays, your best bet is to reserve your lunch online, as long lines can and do often form.
What’s on the menu? Fried chicken, of course. (There’s also pulled pork and ribs, but that’s not my vibe). For a mere $16.50, lunch comes with cornbread and two sides that rotate daily, and when I visited, it was coleslaw and baked beans. The coleslaw is about as exciting as potato salad or broiled salmon (read: not exciting) but the baked beans are smoky and sweet and the cornbread is just right.
But let’s go back to the chicken. If ever there was a way to make buttermilk fried chicken elegant yet satisfyingly delicious, Thomas Keller has nailed it. Flecked with bits of rosemary and sea salt, this chicken is crispy on the outside and juicy and flavorful on the inside.
There’s not much that beats sitting outside at a picnic table eating a down home meal in Napa on a warm summer day, so what are you waiting for? Book that online reservation and go for the casual side of Yountville. The chicken is worth it.
Who would have thought that some of the best Sichuanese cuisine I’ve ever tasted would be in Albany in the East Bay? San Francisco boasts some terrific Sichuanese food but I thought it was slim pickings this side of the Bay Bridge until I discovered China Village in downtown Albany, just north of Berkeley. When the restaurant reopened in 2013, they kept their numbingly spicy signature dishes on the menu. My taste buds thank them for it.
I probably visit China Village every month and the one dish I always order are the housemade water dumplings with spicy sauce. These rustic dumplings are super garlicy and doused in an oh-so-satisfying chili oil. Mmm, healthy.
Speaking of excess chili oil, I often order the spicy Sichuan boiled fish fillet as well. Tender white fish served over heaps of leeks, onions, cabbage, and garlic, all topped with an fiery chili sauce and heaps of Sichuan peppercorns. What’s not to love? Keep the white rice nearby for this one as you’ll need it to cool down.
China Village’s lamb with cumin is another standout dish. They make one of the best iterations of this regional specialty and the meat quality is wonderful as well.
The menu at China Village is long (and so are the wait times), but nearly everything I’ve ordered there has been stellar. Sure, it might not be the healthiest food, but with cuisine this spicy, it’s sort of an involuntary portion control type of situation. And thanks to China Village, now I can get my Sichuanese fix without having to cross the Bay Bridge.
Does Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles really even need a review? I used to visit the Roscoe’s on West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles back in the early 2000s, and it wasn’t until last year that I tried out the Roscoe’s in Long Beach. It was Nishan’s first time in Los Angeles, and after a long day of sightseeing at the Griffith Observatory and Beverly Hills, we stopped at Roscoe’s for some fried chicken.
For those who have visited, you already know that the menu at Roscoe’s is primarily countless iterations of magical fried chicken served alongside heaps of whipped butter, waffles, and or collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and cornbread. I’d sung Roscoe’s praises to Nishan for years, but it wasn’t until he tasted it for the first time that he understood what I’d meant.
We had reservations at Jose Andres’ Bazaar the following night. I am not at all ashamed to say that we cancelled our reservations and went back to Roscoe’s for dinner again. When in Rome, eat all the Roscoe’s. Wait, what?
Come to southern California for the sights, stay for the Roscoe’s.
I was in Long Beach last year for a conference, and whenever I’m anywhere near Los Angeles’ radius, I have to go to Little Tokyo for sushi. I’m a proud Bay Arean, but LA has us beat when it comes to Japanese cuisine.
Hama Sushi is a tiny little restaurant along East 2nd Street in Little Tokyo, and it’s my favorite. There are signs telling patrons to not to ask about teriyaki or tempura; this simply isn’t that kind of place. The long wait is well worth the reward and once we were sitting at the sushi bar, I began ordering in earnest. We began with the albacore sashimi, which was delicious, gorgeously presented, and did I mention delicious?
Next came a parade of nigiri and I quickly lost track of what kind of fish we were eating; retaining only that they were all sublimely flavored and incredibly fresh.
We capped off our feast with some of the best uni I’ve ever tasted in my life. The only other uni that comes close is what I’ve had in Tokyo. This uni was creamy and mind blowingly flavorful. More of this, please.
Hama Sushi may be a no-frills type of joint, but it delivers like no other. Space is limited, and ordering is fast and to-the-point, but Hama Sushi does not mess around.
After Sura Korean Cuisine closed in Oakland a couple of years ago, I was convinced I’d never find another Korean restaurant in the East Bay with the same dedication to quality ingredients.
I was wrong.
Pyeongchang Tofu House is just a stone’s throw from where Sura used to be, in Oakland’s Temescal district. Specializing in, well, tofu, Pyeongchang Tofu House churns out bowl after steaming bowl of tofu soup, or sundubu jjigae. I often get the kimchi tofu soup with beef, but the mushroom tofu soup and dumpling tofu soup are in regular rotation too. They all come bubbling hot in cauldrons filled with creamy, housemade tofu and fiery broth. A steaming bowl of rice helps cool things down. Pyeongchang Tofu House isn’t limited to just tofu, though. Their dolsot bibimbabp is also top notch.
My favorite thing about Pyeongchang Tofu House is actually the banchan. The selection isn’t huge, but it’s always rotating, seasonal, house-made, and impeccably fresh. The kimchi is outstanding, as are the namul and jjim. So healthy, so delicious.
The service at Pyeongchang Tofu House is wonderful, too. The staff is always friendly and happy to explain what makes their spicy kimchi different from the others, or how to best remove the crispy rice at the bottom of a hot stoneware bowl.
Looks like I have a new favorite Korean restaurant in the East Bay after all.