Thursday, July 22, 2010

Food Crawl Part 3: Oakland and Berkeley

For the third installment of food crawl, we headed over to the East Bay. Heather planned this round which was great because she knows all the good places to hit in Oakland and Berkeley. We were supposed to start at Bakesale Betty's, but they ran out of chicken sandwiches before we got there (at 2:15 - they close at 3).  Big huge bummer. Especially because we must have only just missed it because we saw  plenty of people unwrapping or just starting their incredible looking sandwiches.

So instead, we walked down the road and started at Burma Superstar.  I had never attempted to try Burma Superstar because I've been intimidated by the lines. If you feel the same way, I highly suggest you check out the Oakland location at about 2PM because it was empty. We ordered the  tea leaf salad and rainbow salad and you should too. 

This is the tea leaf salad, and the leaves really do come from Burma (or so says the menu).  I loved the presentation of the salads at the table - they arrive with all the components segregated to a section of the dish and then the waiter (very quickly) goes through all ingredients and then tosses it table side. Besides the tea leaves there are tomatoes, lettuce, peanuts, fried garlic and a whole bunch of other stuff. It tastes like nothing else I've had before and I loved those fried garlic pieces. 

I wanted to try the rainbow salad when I saw that it had 22 different ingredients.  How can you pass up a salad that has 22 ingredients? I wish I could remember what was in it besides noodles (4 different types) more fried garlic, tofu, papaya, pepper, fried onion and 11 other ingredients I now can't remember. I actually liked this salad better than the tea leaf salad. All the different textures and flavors came together to make a really distinct and fun dish. I believe the menu called it "a party in your mouth".

Our next stop was over in Berkeley at Vik's Chaat Corner. This place is part grocery store, part restaurant. The restaurant is no frills: order at the counter, sit at tables that are reminiscent of a high school cafeteria, and eat your food with... biodegradable sporks.

At Vik's we ordered a couple of mango lassis and a veggie kathi and then tried to figure out how to eat the kathi with the sporks.

The four of us quickly devoured both the drinks and the food. The kathi (which is only served on the weekend) was really nicely spiced and flavorful and the lassi would have been perfect to drink with it if I hadn't finished it before the food arrived.  I also liked that nearly everything that was left when we finished eating - plate, cups and sporks - were compostable and the restaurant has a big green bin to allow you to do just that.

Next up on the agenda was the Imperial Tea Court, also in Berkeley.  They have a huge variety of different teas and also a decent selection of food. We decided to try a white tea and an herbal tea as well as some veggie dumplings.

Imperial Tea Court allows you to experience different types of tea service, and we chose the Gaiwan tea presentation.  Both teas were really mild and subtle and though it wasn't my most favorite tea I've ever had, I really enjoyed the presentation of it as well as just hanging out and talking with my friends over tea.

Next up on our list was ice cream. We drove over to Ici in Berkeley and waited in line and debated which flavors to get. We were only going to get two, but we couldn't decide between them all and in the end picked three: toasted almond, chocolate caramel and orange rosemary toffee.

Ici is another shop I would love just for the design, but the ice cream really holds up. My favorite of the three flavors was the orange rosemary toffee - three flavors you wouldn't think to put together but tasted amazing. Everyone else picked the toasted almond chocolate almond as their favorite, but really everything we tried - including the flavors that we sampled before ordering - were great. I have to say, I much prefer Ici to Humphrey Slocomb, and I think it's pretty comparable to Bi-Rite Creamery.

After ice cream, we decided to take a little digestion break and headed over to the Berkeley Rose Garden which is now in full bloom.

We wandered around here for awhile, building up our appetites for our final stop, Boot and Shoe.  Boot and Shoe is a pizza place and the sequel to Pizzaiolo (the name is held over from the former tenants of the location).  We hung out for awhile in the bar, drinking sparkling rose, while we waited for a table.

The bar is tucked away in the back of the restaurant and after awhile we decided to stop waiting for our table and commandeered the back corner of the bar and started ordering food.

This is the farro salad minus the burrata but plus the ricotta. I only had a small bite of this one - at this point our group had grown to six - but I liked what I tried.

We also ordered a couple of pizzas: potato, pancetta, fontina and rosemary and a margherita pizza topped with arugula.

I loved the potato/pancetta combination but wasn't overwhelmed by the margherita.  The atmosphere was fun and I liked the weird paintings on the wall and I would totally go back to hang out there. 

This food crawl was the super-sized version of our previous food crawls and a really good time. Thanks Heather, for picking out such great spots. Now, when can we go back to Bakesale Betty?

(for restaurant addresses and phone numbers, click below)  

Burma Superstar
4721 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609-2023
(510) 652-2900

Vik's Chaat Corner
2390 4th Street
Berkeley, CA 94609
(510) 644-4432

Imperial Tea Court
1511 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 540-8888

2948 College Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705-2204
(510) 665-6054

Boot and Shoe Service
3308 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610-2737
(510) 763-2668 


sarah said...

Everything looks so fun and delicious!

1) The rainbow salad is the BEST! I try to order something new eaxch time I go, but I keep coming back to it. Those fried garlic pieces are magical.

2) I'll wait in line with you at Bakesale Betty or Ici any day!

3) Next time you go to Imperial Tea Court, you have to try the hand-pulled noodles! They are incredible.

Ryan said...

Imperial Tea House: lamb pot stickers?

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