Commis: A Celebratory Experience

I’m celebrating my two year anniversary. It’s a two year anniversary of a relationship I have with food and writing. I’ve been writing a weekly food blog for two years. To celebrate, I was going all out. I dined with my BFF at the only Michelin star rated restaurant in the entire East Bay and it’s located here in Oakland and it’s called Commis.

The chef/owner is thirty-two year old James Syhabout who grew up in West Oakland. His family immigrated from Thailand when he was two years old. Aside from Commis, he owns Hawker Fare, the Southeast Asian street food restaurant that I previously wrote about. Remember the pork belly rice bowl?

Commis serves a pre-fixed menu where art and creativity is apparent. The first thing to arrive was a bowl of rocks. We were instructed to find the two edible items. I was a bit confused. My friend with her geocaching experience was able to find them easily. We bit into what tasted like a whopper of a crispy cheesy cracker. What a fun way to start the meal.

The next item to appear was the Pacific oyster, sunchoke and green anise in sea foam. I didn’t like this dish. It was like putting spoonfuls of ocean in your mouth.

Although at the time we didn’t realize it, Chef Syhabout brought out the next dish which was the farm egg with alliums, smoked dates and malt. He explained to us to get a bite of egg yolk in each spoonful. The only thing I could identify was the egg yolk but it was a tasty dish.

Sweet shrimp with avocado and chrysanthemum was the next plate. I enjoyed the simplicity of this dish as well.

Next to arrive was the red beetroot with cauliflower and blood orange with a pumpernickel bread crust. For a moment, I thought I was having dessert. This was one of my favorites.

Chef Syhabout came out again to bring us the hake confit in olive oil, black and green garlic with wilted coastal chicory. I’ve never had hake before, but it is from the same family as cod. After further thought, I think this was my favorite.

The final savory dish was the Heritage chicken, artichoke and black trumpets, fresh and dried brassicas. The texture of the chicken was very tender and had a smokey flavor. It was a nice dish and probably the most beautiful.

The palette cleanser came to the table which was a winter citrus with laurel bay leaf. It did what it was supposed to.

Dessert was an apple sponge cake with vanilla bean, rice and warm spices. Another beautiful dish. I wish I had more of this; I especially liked the rice crisps that looked like bugs.

A bonus dessert came out which my BFF remembers being called the potted mint. It reminded me of when I was in elementary school and we planted beans in a styrofoam cup to await a sprig to appear. The dessert was a delicious chocolate that started out grainy, but became creamy in my mouth.

Commis was an interesting experience which I am happy to have had. Every item on each plate is carefully placed the way an artist creates their art. The food was mostly enjoyable. It’s definitely worth a try to celebrate a special occasion. And if you are lucky enough, you’ll get to meet the Chef. Our waiter walked us over to the open kitchen at the end of our meal to meet him!