Drip Line: West Oakland

Last week I attended a dinner with fifteen other Bay Area social media bloggers and influencers at a new coffee shop and restaurant called Drip Line. Drip Line is located in a part of town that I honestly don’t frequent without a purpose, West Oakland. Chef Nora Dunning has created a menu that reflects a fusion of her Singapore roots and her Northern California home. We all got to sample five dishes.
Kaya toast is a popular Singapore breakfast, and at Drip Line, this dish is elevated a few ways. Using house made brioche, it comes with a side of pandan infused coconut butter and a coddled egg with chives and soy sauce. With the recent popularity of adding an egg to any dish and making it sexy, I think coddled eggs may be trending next. And the best part of the Kaya toast is that amazing butter.
Gado Gado is an Indonesian dish that mixes together multiple ingredients with a sauce. We had ours with a variety of fresh, local, seasonal vegetables, red quinoa, root chips, a poached egg, peanut sambal, and lime. I especially enjoyed the textures that the small amount of red quinoa and the homemade root chips provided. 

Shrimp and grits at Drip Line is influenced by Chef Nora and her husband who is originally from the South. The creamy coconut grits are complemented with sambal shrimp, a fried egg, and micro herbs. This was one of my favorite dishes, but too rich not to share.  

It appears that most Asian cultures have some form of chicken and rice plate. This one infuses California to it with a tumeric brown rice and an Asian pear herb and fennel salad. The boneless chicken thighs also cooked with a honey glaze that adds an overall sweetness. The bone broth can be poured on the plate or drank separately.  
Laksa was a treat as this was the first time it was being served at Drip Line. This version of laksa included rice noodles, tofu puffs, tempeh, asparagus, pea sprouts, mint, cilantro, sambal, lime, and curried broth. The depth of flavor runs deep in this bowl of laksa.
Drip Line resides within walking distance to the neighboring Fusebox and Brown Sugar Kitchen which gives new purpose to frequent West Oakland.  They’re open M-F from 7am-5pm.  

Teni East Kitchen: Fresh California Burmese

Teni East Kitchen is a newish Burmese restaurant located in North Oakland that opened this past May.  With a focus on Burmese, it has a California twist.  I had my first lunch here in October and went back for dinner in November. It can be fun to be one of the first to discover a new restaurant, but I also think that there is great benefit to give a restaurant some time to work out any recipes or kinks.  
During my two visits, I sampled a good variety of the menu and want to highlight my favorites. The pea shoot salad was quite extraordinary. I loved the use of fresh raw pea shoots with peanuts, shallots, chickpeas, garlic, lime, and fish sauce. The fresh ingredients plus the variation of textures made this an absolute winner.  


I enjoyed the roti with curry dip. It is very similar to Malaysian roti which incorporates fluffy layers that soak up the spiced sauce.


The cumin pork belly had a pleasantly surprising preparation. The pork belly is sliced thin and wok tossed with fresh basil, shallots, and spices. It had an abundance of flavor.


The restaurant serves a coconut rice which is really tasty and goes well with the entrees I had. The rice is soft and fluffy, but has a hint of creaminess. If you aren’t opposed to coconut, I highly recommend it.


My favorite dish at Teni East Kitchen is the crispy spicy catfish with tamarind and dried shrimp relish. This is the one dish responsible for my return visit and future visits. With the catfish perfectly battered and deep fried and spiced, I just can’t get enough of this dish.  


All you need is to save a little room for dessert at the end your meal. The only offering is ice cream and your flavor choices are ube (purple yam), buko (young coconut), pistachio, coffee, and chocolate.  


Overall, I would consider Teni East Kitchen as one of my new favorite spots. The restaurant space is very warm and inviting and the food is excellent. It’s a place I can dine at for a casual weekday dinner or a celebratory dinner. I might even order the catfish as “take out.”  

Follow me on Instagram @510foodie to see what I’m eating next.

A Bold Bowl of Bibimbap

Bibimbap is a signature Korean dish that I love eating as much as I love saying out loud. Pronounced bee-beem-bahp, it means “mixed rice” in Korean. The dish is commonly prepared with a mix of assorted vegetables, rice, an egg, and some form of sliced meat. Although many Korean restaurants serve this dish as part of their full menu, it is a specialty at Bowl’d on Solano Avenue in Albany.  

On a recent visit to Bowl’d with a friend, we ordered bibimbap. Here are some instructions to prepare you for your visit. First off, you need to decide if you want it cold or hot. The hot one is called Dolsot Bibimbap, prepared in hot stoneware, and costs extra. This is the way I like it because I enjoy the sound of the sizzle when you mix the ingredients and the sauce hits the stoneware. Also, when you reach the bottom, you will get browned crunchy rice pieces.  

Next you need to choose your protein. Your choices are beef (bulgogi), chicken, pork, and pork belly. The chicken and pork belly has the options of ordering spicy. For an additional charge, higher end protein options of beef short ribs (kalbi) and salmon are available. Vegetarians have an option of mung bean pancake or tofu. 

At Bowl’d you are also given the option of white or mixed grain rice. Mixed grain consists of a mixture of barley, sweet brown rice, wild red rice, sweet rice, and black rice.  

I ordered the Dolsot Bimbimbap with bulgogi and white rice. The best way to eat it is to add some spicy chili paste, break up the over easy egg, and mix all the ingredients thoroughly. The dish came with assorted banchan or Korean side dishes.   
 I wanted to try the Bowl’d wings or Korean Fried Chicken (KFC). The KFC are deep fried chicken wings cooked in a sweet and tangy chili sauce. They came out piping hot, crispy, and flavorful. All I can say is that they were finger lickin’ good. 
 I love noodles so I take most opportunities to eat them. My favorite Korean noodles are the clear glass noodles made from sweet potato starch. We ordered the veggie Jhap Chae which are prepared with these noodles and stir fried with mushrooms, julienned carrots, onions, and sesame oil. I love the chewy texture of the noodles alongside the fresh cooked vegetables. 
 Bowl’d in Albany is part of a family of Korean restaurants in the East Bay. They also have Bowl’d BBQ and Oghane in Oakland and Spoon in Berkeley. Spoon is a Korean bistro where I previously wrote about their excellent brunch.    

Dol Ho(le in the wall)

Dol Ho in San Francisco Chinatown is the epitome of a hole in the wall. Every table could potentially become a community table, as I watched customers squeeze themselves in. My friend sat next to me, but strangers sat across from us.

Dol Ho is probably one of the last few dim sum restaurants that still have push carts. The majority of the customers at Dol Ho are at least 80 years old.  
  The most popular dish at Dol Ho is their spareribs over rice. Almost every table will order at least one of them. The spareribs are steamed with a black bean sauce and then a sweet soy sauce is poured over the ribs and rice. I often get an order to go so that I can have it for lunch the next day.
 
 My friend introduced me to a new dish at Dol Ho. It was a rice roll cooked with dried shrimp and chives. A sweet soy sauce is poured over these noodles and topped with cilantro. This dish is made to order which is nice because it comes out fresh and hot. I really enjoyed the consistency of the noodles and the flavors that the chives brought out.
 Those are the highlights of Dol Ho for me. We ordered a couple of other dim sum dishes that weren’t that interesting. It really only takes a few things to bring in customers to a restaurant. I will continue to get my spareribs over rice as take out, but it’s quite interesting to sit down at Dol Ho. You get a sense of Old Chinatown when you see the clients coming here on fixed incomes. They will come in using canes, walkers, and I even saw one in a wheelchair. Nothing will come between them and their spareribs over rice. The food at Dol Ho is authentic and cheap.  
  

Borinquen Soul: Not Just Another Food Truck

It was six years ago when I was in San Juan, Puerto Rico (PR) with my BFF. It was a great trip because we had friends that took us around and made us feel like locals. Those memories reappear when I am near the Borinquen Soul Food Truck. It’s a food truck straight out of Oakland that brings not only the “Taste of Puerto Rico,” but the smells and the music.
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Borinquen Soul has music playing from their truck speakers which is what you would hear on the streets of PR. My coworker and I had just finished walking Lake Merritt and the fun music and the wonderful smell led us to Borinquen Soul which was parked off Snow Park in Downtown Oakland. We decided we would share a combo and a side item.
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We ordered combo #2 which came with Puerto Rican rice, a beef turnover, and plantains. The side we ordered was the beef fritter. We waited about ten minutes, but the music helped make the time go by faster. Our food came in one large container which we brought back to the office to divvy up.
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It was actually enough food to split between the two of us. I love Puerto Rican rice with the green olives. This one was moist with good texture. It was tasty. The beef empanada had a crispy exterior with minced ground beef inside. My friend thought it was good, but thought it lacked beef. I didn’t notice that, but some of her beef may have spilled out during the cut. We both agreed that the beef fritter was amazing. I didn’t expect the deep fried outer coating to be made of plantains. The plantains that came with our meal were actually tostones. Those are unripe plantains that have been smashed and fried twice. The first time I had them was about six years ago in PR. These were nicely seasoned and delicious.

Be on the look out or listen for Borinquen Soul, better yet follow them on twitter at twitter.com/BorinquenSoul
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