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The Oakland 100: 83-100
Edited by Sara Deseran | Photo: Eva Kolenko, Ilana Diamond, and Catherine Meng | May 22, 2014
Doughnuts to bagels, kimchee to cocktails, fried rice to so many fried chicken sandwiches—counting up a city's edible riches.
Editor's Note: This is one of many dispatches from Oakland that San Francisco is publishing over the next month, all part of our June "Oakland Issue." To see the rest of the issue's contents, and to read stories as they become available online, click here.
83. When Bakesale Betty (5098 Telegraph Ave.) opened in Temescal (circa 2005), its fried chicken sandwich (buttermilk fried chicken with a vinegary, jalapeño-studded coleslaw on an Acme torpedo roll) spawned an insatiable fan base, down-the-block lines—and a host of imitators. Follow the chain, organized by date of birth. —E.C.
84-88. Fried Chicken Sammies Everywhere
(Circa 2007) 4001 Piedmont Ave.
Buttermilk fried chicken, sriracha mayo, and sriracha-cabbage coleslaw on a Semifreddi’s French roll $8.85
(Circa 2009) 597 15th St.
Buttermilk fried chicken, lemon mayonnaise, and romaine on a torpedo roll, slaw on the side $8.50
Doc’s of the Bay
(Circa 2011) Roving Food Truck
Fennel-battered buttermilk fried chicken and dill-cabbage-jalapeno slaw on a Firebrand Bakery bun $8.50
Cato’s Ale House
(Circa 2012) 3891 Piedmont Ave.
Buttermilk fried chicken, spicy vinegar slaw, and lemon aioli on an Acme sourdough roll $9.50
10th & Wood
(Circa 2013) 945 Wood St.
Brined and fried chicken, jalapeno, cucumber, vinegar slaw, and herb mayonnaise on a La Brea telera roll $8.
89. Key Player: The Kimchee Whisperer
FuseBox, a tiny box of a Korean restaurant in a remote, industrial corner of West Oakland, isn’t where you’d expect to find the best, most wide-ranging kimchee selection in town. But chef Sunhui Chang is something of a mad scientist when it comes to pickling and fermentation. Chang’s napa cabbage kimchee is wonderful in its unapologetic salted-shrimp funk, but it’s the chef’s more unusual kimchees that set the place apart: stinging nettle kimchee, fennel kimchee, earthy, vegetal kimchee made from the leaves and stems of the mustard green. He even makes a kimchee featuring thin squares of Pink Lady apple—sweet, tart, and slightly spicy. FuseBox’s tagline is “I bleed kimchee,” a sentiment born as much from practicality as from passion—many of Chang’s kimchees and pickles make use of vegetable tops, stems, and cores that less industrious chefs might simply throw out. —L.T.
90-93. Gourmet Shops Hawking the Good Life
Stores that traffic in aspiration have popped up everywhere. —R.F.M.
At Rockridge’s impeccably curated Atomic Garden (5453 College Ave.), the wares include a $31 “specialty” oven mitt and a hand-forged cheese slicer fabricated in rural northern Alabama.
Japanese kitchen- and barware is the raison d’être at Umami Mart (815 Broadway) in Old Oakland, where you can outfit your home with delicate teapots, ramen strainers, and elegant glass snifters from the Tokyo-Sasaki factory.
At Lakeshore’s Oaktown Spice (530 Grand Ave.), you’ll find shelves stacked with everything from whole nutmeg and nigella seeds to Japanese curry and Spanish saffron, as well as mortar-and-pestle sets for grinding it all up.
Down the street, newbie Alchemy Bottle Shop (3256 Grand Ave.) sells bespoke spirits, such as small-batch whiskey from Denver’s Leopold Bros. and coffee liqueur from St. George Spirits, in a white-walled space that feels more gallery than liquor shop.
94-98. More Roasters to Buzz About
Blue Bottle actually isn’t the founding father—the revitalized Mr. Espresso started here in 1978. Try these relative newcomers, all worth a sip. —R.F.M.
Red Bay Coffee
It was on a trip to Senegal that Keba Konte first saw coffee beans being roasted over an open flame. That was inspiration enough to open his Fruitvale-based garden lab, where he started roasting in “nano-batches” this spring.
Bicycle Coffee Company
Two-wheeled delivery earned Bicycle its moniker, but its subtle blends, wrought from hand-roasted, small-batch beans, earned it a following starting in 2009. ask about the refillable cold-brew growlers (yes, we’re still talking coffee).
OK, so they roast in Emeryville. But this tiny shop, which opened three years ago in the Market Hall, serves up a variety of rich, nuanced blends in deservingly beautiful Heath ceramic cups. 5655 College Ave.
Scarlet City Roasting
Started by Jen St. Hilaire, a former protégé of Seattle’s espresso Vivace, this roastery in West Oakland will be joined by a retail shop in Emeryville this year. The Warp Blend tends toward smooth, dark chocolate overtones.
99. Chicken and Waffle Ground Zero
It’s by no means the only place for meat-meets-sweet in Oakland, but the Home of Chicken and Waffles (444 Embarcadero West) lives up to its name. Hours end at 4 a.m. on weekends, and the portions are titanic. There’s other food, and even a full bar featuring a blueberry martini. But regulars know that the only way to go is with the eponymous combo and a metric ton of maple syrup and gravy. —E.C.
100. The Whole-Grain Revolution is Here
In March, longtime Oliveto owner Bob Klein hosted his second annual conference on the “whole-grain economy”—a term that he coined to encompass the entire whole-grain shebang, from the local farmers tinkering with growing ancient varieties of wheat, to the scientists studying the health benefits of nutritious stone-milled wheat, to the bakers baking with it. Michael Pollan spoke, and so did Chad Robertson of Tartine and Washington State plant geneticist Stephen Jones. Convinced that a whole host of health problems can be linked to modern-day wheat processing, Klein is a man determined to set the clock back, so to speak. His whole-grain pastas and flours are sold under the label Community Grains at places like Whole Foods, where Klein even convinced the head of the bakery to introduce whole-grain cookies. Whole Foods initially worried that they wouldn’t sell, but now Klein is like a proud papa: “In the first three weeks, they sold 51,000.” —S.D.
THIS WAY FOR MORE OAKLAND 100
1-11: The case for soulful food; Josh Sens's top 10
12-24: Fancified doughnuts; the 1 a.m. hoagie guy; so many taco trucks
25-49: Walking Chinatown; urban winetopia; a farmer's market picnic
50-82: The bagel boomlet; Uptown bar-food hopping; healthy soul food
83-100: Fried chicken sandwiches; gourmet shops; roasters to buzz about
Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco.
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