Featuring Lithuanian Cuisine in Alameda

Mama Papa Lithuania claims to be the only restaurant serving Lithuanian food on the West Coast. If this is true, I am feeling very fortunate that it happens to be located in the 510. Located on Park Street in Alameda, Mama Papa Lithuania is a destination to explore Northern European cuisine.  

I had lunch there with a group of friends so we sampled quite a few dishes. We started the meal with some fried Lithuanian rye bread. This black bread is fried in oil and rubbed with a garlicky paste. Apparently it is a best selling snack in Lithuania. The rye bread is very dense and it was the flavor of the garlic that made it shine for me.
  
I really enjoyed the cucumber salad which is mixed in a yogurt dill sauce and tossed with green onions. I found it to be very refreshing and loved the dill flavor.
 We each had our own soup. Some of us got the cream of mushroom soup and others got the borscht with mushroom. The mushroom soup was the perfect balance of broth and cream. The flavors brought on by the mushrooms and onions made it heavenly and I loved it.

 The borscht was a mix of beet and chicken broth and contained vegetables. This soup was topped with a dollop of sour cream. I have had Russian borscht before and thought this version was superior. 
 We ordered some potato pancakes with and without meat. These were probably my least favorite items which was a surprise since I really like potato pancakes in general. I didn’t like the consistency of the potatoes and it felt a little greasy.  
 The flour dumplings were pretty awesome. These traditional Lithuanian dumplings are handmade and stuffed with various fillings. We got the flour dumplings with potato and cheese filling which were soft pillows of goodness.  
Our waitress recommended their best seller, the stuffed cabbage rolls. The outside of the roll is cabbage and the inside is stuffed with seasoned ground pork and rice. The dish is served with boiled potatoes and dill pickles and made complete with their homemade sauce. It was nice to include this in our variety so we could have some additional protein.
  The flavors of Lithuanian cuisine is fairly mild. Some commonalities in the dishes I found are potatoes, dill, and sour cream. I pretty much enjoy those ingredients so I will be back. Next time it should be dinner so I can wash the food down with some Lithuanian beer.

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Eating Alameda: Ark on Park

My friend and I were headed to Alameda one weekday evening to grab a bite to eat. Park Street is filled with lots of restaurants and it appears more and more restaurants have been opening up there lately. Although Ark Chinese Restaurant has been in the neighborhood for a long time, it is a place I never noticed. But when my friend said they have hand pulled noodles, I was convinced to try it.

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The last time I ate at a restaurant where you can actually watch noodles being pulled was when I was in Hong Kong.

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We were sadly just a party of two and I say that because I would have liked to have been able to order more items to try. We still ordered four items, way more than we could eat.

We had the xiao lung bao which are the dumplings that hold meat and soup inside. As you bite into them, you get a nice squirting of delicious soup. For that reason, they are also known as juicy buns. The ones at Ark have thicker skins and overall were satisfying.

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Although reviewers talked highly of the garlic noodles, these were not the hand pulled noodles. We decided on the chicken noodle soup instead. The hand pulled noodles were soft, thin, and tasted great. The broth was light and it had the right amount of thinly sliced white meat chicken. My only complaints were that the bok choy was overcooked and the temperature of the dish could have been hotter.

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The Ark braised egg tofu came out next. I assume they attach their name to it because it’s a signature dish. It definitely tasted like one. The tofu has a light crispiness to it on the outside but a delicate softness on the inside. It was mixed with two kinds of mushrooms in a brown sauce. This is an excellent vegetarian option.

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I wanted an additional vegetable so we ordered the stir fried string beans. Although it was cooked with garlic, it was flavorless.

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Overall I enjoyed Ark. I look forward to more visits so I can try more items like the green onion pancakes, crispy chicken wings, and garlic noodles!