815 Washington St, Oakland, CA 94607 | 1 510.451.2662 | website
hours: Mon – Fri: 9 am – 5 pm; Sat: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
I have been wanting to tell you about this great little spot in the old business section in downtown Oakland. It’s right next to Ratto’s International Market. The catchy logo on the window caught my eye as we walked by and that alone was enough to tempt Mr K and I inside. Nevermind that we just had breakfast next door at Caffe 817 (future post) and that I had gorged on a Vietnamese sandwich from the Nom Nom Truck the day before (another future post)… The black and white walls are boldly topped with bright lime green, which repeat the colors of the logo, it’s dizzyingly modern and sleek inside.
We were greeted by the friendly staff who helped us with the difficult decision on what to order. The menu offers vietnamese sandwiches (bánh mì, pronounced bun mee), crepes, a variety of teas, including tapioca boba, vietnamese coffee, virgin mojitos and illy cafe. The most exciting part was watching them cook the ingredients on the crepe griddle!
Yes, that’s right, they cook everything to order. I have never before been treated to such a freshly made Vietnamese sandwich! Sliced mushrooms, ham and cha (vietnamese sausage) cooking on the griddle.
We had to try the Coma sandwich ($7ish) – which is served only on Saturdays. It is made with slices of grilled mushrooms, cha (a beige-colored, bologna-like pork sausage) and Vietnamese bacon, in a hollowed out baguette that is smeared with pâté, and stuffed with slices of red onions & cilantro.
The bread was tender and warm with a delicate crackly crust which was fantastic. They said this was the sixth time they had changed bakeries – very particular about the details, which benefits us all! It was perfection, the light ethereal baguette surrounding sublimely prepared ingredients; the slices of freshly cooked mushroom intensified the fragrance of the cilantro and sliced onion. I wanted to follow the mantra of the logo: eat. drink. eat. pass out. repeat.
This is the fabulous Rotisserie Chicken ($6.95), which was full of tender roasted chicken, pickled carrots and daikon, fragrant cilantro, cool cucumber, jalapeno and onion slices and smeared with pâté and mayonnaise. The chicken was juicy and warm, it became infused with the flavors of the pâté and mayonnaise which melted together in a most enjoyable fashion, boldly flavorful and full of delectable textures.
This is the Vietnamese Special Combination ($6.95), which was filled with slices of cha, headcheese, and ham along with the pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro and onion slices. The meat was not heated for this sandwich, which seemed less magical, more like the other bánh mì that we’ve had previously.
Closeup of the headcheese, which offered a medley of crunchy textures. Mr. K was a bit apprehensive about the textures…
The sandwiches all come with a salad made from impeccably fresh spring mix, along with a container of salad dressing. Our favorite was a bright and zesty Asian vinaigrette.
I enjoyed the Sweet Milk Tea ($3.35) which was topped with a frilly mound of whipped cream. The smoky flavor of the tea was enveloped in rich sweetened condensed milk, so delicious and rich it was the perfect end to my meal.
There are framed pictures on the wall, that were taken by the young woman in the photo above. I hope that these funny squeeze bottles with the tilting lashed dolls eyes show up on the counter one day!
Outside on the sidewalk are tables which would be lovely on a sunny day. I can’t stop thinking about that Coma sandwich and need to go back to check out the crepes.