1745 San Pablo Avenue, (near 18th St) Oakland | 510.858.7475 | website
Last week I went to check out the newest location of Curry Up Now which opened in Oakland earlier this month. It’s in an area that is really busting out with so many new bars and restaurants and is next door to The New Parish venue. Curry Up Now was one of the first street trucks around back in 2009 that forged the path for acceptance of the moveable feast and since then, they have built restaurants in San Mateo, Oakland, Palo Alto, San Francisco and San Jose, while still operating 4 food trucks.
The 1,800 square foot venue seats up to 50 guests, the wicker chairs, intricate tiles, ceiling fans and colorful portraits from Rajasthan create a modern quirky ambience. They take traditional Indian flavors and present them in a modern upbeat way. The tikka masala burritos are what made them famous, and the menu includes deconstructed samosas, naughty naan and sexy fries. They use organic, natural ingredients whenever possible, the eggs come from cage-free hens, and they utilize sustainable, local resources at every opportunity. Although the format is fast casual, they use real plates and silverware to reduce waste.
I went with my friend Lee who eats a mostly plant based diet, and found the menu to be very accommodating. We were dining as guests of the house and began our meal with Panipuri, also known as Golgappa, which are an obsession of mine after I read a description of eating them as like a sweet and salty deep kiss exploding in your mouth, and I have been on the hunt for this taste sensation ever since. The versions I’ve had were all disappointing, and I’m going to tell you that you have to get this at Curry up now, it’s so good it made our toes curl!
Din Tai Fung is a chain from Taiwan that is legendary for their xiao long bao or soup dumplings. They currently operate over 100 locations worldwide and finally, finally opened a branch in the Bay Area last May. From the beginning, the lines to get in were so epic (3 hours) that the chain began to take reservations for the first time ever at this location only. Demand was so high that people were selling their reservations on Craigslist for $50! Big note: according to the website, starting March 1 they will no longer be taking reservations. There is an exhibition kitchen near the entrance where masked staff crank out hundreds of dumplings by hand. It is mesmerizing to watch the assembly line expertly roll out the dough, fill and then fold them up closed with delicate pleats so quickly and efficiently
They won’t seat you until the entire party is present and the fine print of the reservation states that they will only hold the table for 15 minutes… so when when my friends texted that they were running late I began to worry… but the staff was very chill about the whole thing and we were seated as soon as everyone was present and accounted for. While we were waiting we watched the staff in their endless process of rolling dough, filling it, and then carefully folding and pleating them closed. Below they are adding a slice of black truffle into each dumpling!
Once inside, it’s very sleek and modern in the main dining room and we are surprised to find the staff to be friendly and very professional – totally not what we’re used to in an Asian restaurant!
Are you familiar with XLB soup dumplings? Din Tai Fung’s signature dish begins with juicy meat filling wrapped in a delicate skin, which is then pleated with a minimum of 18 exquisite folds, twisted at the top and steamed. What makes them so wonderful is the rich soup broth that develops within the dumpling when they are steamed at a certain temperature. A spoon is provided for you to slurp them up in so you don’t miss any of the gorgeous broth, and they are just heavenly when topped with a splash of the black vinegar and a few delicate strands of fresh ginger. The spoon is the safest way to proceed as the broth can be really hot!
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7001 Sunne Lane, Walnut Creek | 925.448.8118 | website The office I work at is located in a business park which is well off the beaten track. I was so excited when chef Carlos Altamirano opened a Peruvian comfort food restaurant nearby called Parada Kitchen, which is named for a famous food market in Lima, Peru. […]