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.  

Venga Paella for Oakland Restaurant Week

Today wraps up the sixth annual Oakland Restaurant Week (ORW). For the past ten days, restaurants throughout Oakland encouraged people to dine in our foodie town by offering special menus at fixed prices. I think it’s a great opportunity to try a new restaurant that you have been wanting to try. With close to 75 restaurants participating, it is likely there is something for everyone.  

A group of four of us decided on a weeknight dinner at Venga Paella in West Oakland. For $30, you got a choice of a beverage, appetizers, an entree, and a dessert which is a great deal. Most restaurants don’t include a drink in the fixed price menu, but Venga Paella smartly does. They give you a choice of a beer, glass of wine, sangria, or soda. I opted for sangria to go with the Spanish theme. They make both red and white. I was pleasantly surprised by the generous glass full. While both sangria are fun and refreshing, the white sangria tends to be slightly sweeter than the red. 

 We each got our own plate of four different tapas consisting of prawns in a sherry garlic reduction; a potato, egg, and onion frittata; a goat cheese, onion, and olive stuffed piquillo pepper; and toasted bread with a tomato, garlic, and olive oil rub. I enjoyed the sampling very much. When I return next time, there’s a good chance I would order the sleeper toasted bread which I would never have if I didn’t experience the sampling.  
 Venga Paella makes five different types of paella and they were all offered for ORW. There is the traditional paella which comes with prawns, calamari, mussels, clams, and pork chorizo. I went with the traditional one since it was my first visit. Based on flavor, texture, and freshness, the chef at Venga nailed it. I also enjoyed the side salad to help balance the plate.   
 The other paella options offered included a black squid ink paella, a vegetarian option, and a chicken paella. My BFF ordered the fideua, which is made with short strands of pasta instead of rice. It was kind of like eating Rice-A-Roni, but in a good way. I actually liked the soft noodles.    

  For dessert, we also had a choice between three items: Manchego cheese, chocolate mousse, and flan. I went ahead and ordered the chocolate mousse since everyone wanted to get the flan. This dark chocolate dome was quite rich with at least two layers of variation. If you are a chocolate lover, this dessert is for you.   
 The flan was a bit on the dense side, but still quite good. It’s always nice to end with something sweet and even better when it’s included in the price of the meal. 
 The ORW menu at Venga Paella is a good representation of what you would get if you dined there at any given time, which is not always the case with all restaurants. Now that I have had a diverse sampling of their food and enjoyed it, I would definitely come back. 

Fusebox: Thinking Outside the Box

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Located in an Industrial area in West Oakland, Fusebox is a small Fusion restaurant with a blend of mostly Korean and Japanese foods. Fusebox is one of my BFF’s new favorite places and I found out why when I took her for a belated birthday dinner on Friday.

We were first offered a couple of free items: a small bowl of Asian flavored popcorn and a small cup of mushroom consommé. It was a nice way to start our meal.
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Our first real bite was the bacon mochi which is what I was looking forward to having seen some photos. The crisp salty bacon is wrapped around the slightly sweet chewy mochi. It was delightful.
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We ordered several skewers. The first two were grilled eggplant and miso flavored green beans. These tiny skewers were simple and delicious.
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The grilled shishito peppers came out next. These were a little bitter and not my favorite.
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We ordered two of the corns. They were grilled and flavored with butter and peppers. These were outstanding and reminded me of eating Mexican street corn.
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We were debating over the FuseBOX KFC (Korean fried chicken) or the Chicken Karaage (Japanese fried chicken). The waitress recommended the KFC so went ahead and ordered those. The chicken wings had a perfectly crisp coating and the flavor had an amazing spice.
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We shared the fish entree which was an air dried boneless Rainbow Trout. This beautiful filet tasted as good as it looked. It came with some seaweed which added a nice touch of salt to each bite.
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Their entrees come with a bowl of rice as well as Banchans, little Korean side dishes including homemade kimchi. I enjoyed them and did not feel overwhelmed like at many other Korean restaurants.
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We orders two desserts. The first one was the Tang Granita Creamsicle. The flavor brought back wonderful childhood memories of eating Creamsicles. This was quite light as well.
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We also shared the beignets. We aren’t in New Orleans, but their kitchen put up a good fight. Their beignets are made to order so they were piping hot. I rate these fried bread balls fairly high because they were not oily.
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Most of the food at Fusebox is small, but packs simple tasty flavors. It is also a fun place to enjoy a variety of different foods. I can’t wait to go back.