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What's your latest food quest?

East Bay/SF cheap ethnic food

gingerfoxgus Jan 18, 2007 05:50 AM

My boyfriend and I have a deal where we each pick a new restaurant every weekend to check out. The only two requirements are that it is in the East Bay and fairly inexpensive. We both like everything, but I would be interested in anything from various African cuisines to Argentinian to Mexican to Italian to Thai to Indian... Anything goes. Asian food recs are ok, but there is a lot of that around.

  1. c
    Chandavkl Jan 22, 2007 08:12 PM

    Just to mention a couple of rock bottom places in Oakland Chinatown (the kind that makes you ask "How can they afford to do that?") are Happy Cafe at 723 Webster and China Star at the corner of Franklin and Eighth. Happy Cafe has several $2.75 breakfast specials that include something like noodle soup, fried egg and bread, sausage and a hot drink. China Star is cheap fast food, starting out at 69 cents for a chicken drumstick (very nice crust) and entrees for around $2. They have a huge pile of drumsticks behind the counter, which makes you wonder what they did with the rest of the bird. This is reasonably good stuff, not the buck a plate type stuff you see in some inner city neighborhoods.

    1. d
      dunn.sanfrancisco Jan 21, 2007 09:11 PM

      Try the Punjab Restaurant on the corner of Eddy and Mason in the City.

      Yes, I know. It's on the edge of the Tenderloin, but they attract a solid downtown-core lunch trade. They have a good selection of delightful weekday luncheon specials under $7.

      Everything is very fresh and they do an excellent job of balancing all the delicate spice combinations used in Punjabi and Pakistani cooking.

      1. s
        sensi63 Jan 21, 2007 07:02 PM

        Kabana on University just above San Pablo. The best Pakistani food. Great eggplant, chicken or lamb karahi (spicy) yellow daal and tandoori catfish that is shockingly delicious. Moist and full of flavor.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sensi63
          Robert Lauriston Jan 21, 2007 09:04 PM

          I liked the food better at Indus Village around the corner, but haven't been to either recently.

          1. re: sensi63
            Leadbelly Jan 22, 2007 12:11 AM

            There are Pakistani cooks in the Indus Village kitchen, right alongside the "mexicans". Indus Village has a wider variety of dishes than Kabana does, and for that reason I tend to choose it over Kabana, plus the people behind the counter tend to be friendly and more welcoming when I come to pick up my food. I like them both, though. On the other hand, I ate dinner from Mugal last night, and the aloo gobhi was unforgiveably salty and they were out of raita--I think they are off the list, for now.

        2. a
          Aaron Jan 21, 2007 06:35 PM

          I can't remember the name, but there is a fantastic Tofu Hot Pot/Soup place on Telegraph and 47th. It's called "something" tofu house...anyone?
          I love the beef and beef dumpling tofu pot, but even better are all the freebie munchies they bring (various pickled and sugared goodies) and the rice served in a hot clay pot so that it developes a delicious crunchy bottom.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Aaron
            Robert Lauriston Jan 21, 2007 06:40 PM

            Pyung Chang Tofu House. Really nice place.


          2. k
            katya Jan 19, 2007 11:50 PM

            Battambang (Cambodian), Oakland (Downtown)
            Le Regal (Vietnamese - only get the bun with BBQ beef skewers), Berkeley (Downtown)
            Tacubaya (Mexican), Berkeley (4th St.)
            Vik's (Indian chaat), Berkeley (West Berkeley)
            Priya (Indian buffet), Berkeley (West Berkeley)
            Ruen Pair (Thai), Albany (San Pablo Ave.)
            Cha Am (Thai - get Cha Am noodles and Tom Kha Gai), Berkeley (Gourmet Ghetto)

            1. b
              BellaCalabrese Jan 19, 2007 08:10 PM

              I've never gone wrong at Pnom Phenh at 251 8th Street in Oakland; I'm not as fond of their new Fruitvale location.

              1. J T Jan 19, 2007 08:09 PM

                Los Picudos #2 in San Pablo sells legendary tortas.

                1 Reply
                1. re: J T
                  rworange Jan 19, 2007 08:14 PM

                  Yeah. I hear the enchilads are great too.

                2. Zeldog Jan 18, 2007 08:45 PM

                  Taxi Brousse - Senegalese. In Albany.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Zeldog
                    rworange Jan 19, 2007 05:41 AM

                    I like Taxi Brousse too.

                    I just tried the newly opened Taste of Africa on Shattuck.

                    Plantanos on University in Berkely has a sister restaurant in El Sorbrante that I like called Kaliente. The Chron recently did a nice review

                    Along the same lines is El Salvador in West Oakland or El Tazamul in San Pablo

                    There's also La Bamba in Richmond, but I prefer all of the above first

                    For ramen there is Ryowa

                    Cruise International Avenue in Oakland or 23rd St in San Pablo for Mexican. I like Oertez in Oakland a lot. El Tapatio on 23rd in San Pablo has good mocajetes and chavidas. Up a few blocks is Pepitos which has a SUPER outdoor garden. There's also Portumex on 23rd, but I like the other two joints better.

                    Indian ... my favorites are Indus Village or the newly opened Chaat & Curries. Vik's gets a lot of thumbs up, but haven't tried it yet.

                    Soul food ... Nellie's in Oakland

                    Chinese ... not my strong point in terms of knowledge .. but I like China Village on Solano in Albany. It gets thumbs up on the board too.

                    1. re: rworange
                      Robert Lauriston Jan 19, 2007 06:01 PM

                      Lots of reports on Otaez:


                  2. Robert Lauriston Jan 18, 2007 03:30 PM

                    Binh Minh Quan - Vietnamese
                    Battambang - Cambodian
                    Cafe Colucci - Ethiopian
                    Champa Garden - Lao / Thai / Vietnamese
                    China Village - Sichuan
                    El Huarache Azteca - Mexican
                    Holy Land - Middle Eastern
                    Jayakarta - Indonesian
                    New Pagolac - Vietnamese
                    Ohgane - Korean
                    Ryowa Ramen
                    Udupi Palace - Indian
                    Vik's (closes early) - Indian

                    Lots of reports on all of these if you use the search.

                    1. l
                      lintygmom Jan 18, 2007 01:55 PM

                      I like Jerusalem Organic Kitchen for ME food--Solano at the Alameda in Berkeley. The chicken comes covered in sesame seeds and is very good as is the lamb schwerma. Everything's great.

                      Taxi Brousse on San Pablo near Marin has wonderful if limited menu Senegalese food. The beef turnovers are particularly succulent.

                      1. a
                        adrienne156 Jan 18, 2007 07:07 AM

                        Vietnamese - Huong Tra, Barrett at San Pablo in Richmond, just off the freeway. This place is incredible, although not much to look at. My coworkers and I get take-out from here atleast once a week. Very clean, fresh, non-greasy food. The crispy ginger prawns are to die for!!

                        Mexican - My s.o. will probably be pissed that I'm putting this on the internet, but El Taco Zamorano on Foothill in Oakland (take the High Street exit). He happens to be Mexican and I can't convince him to go anywhere else.

                        Happy hunting! (And, let us know if you find anything good)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: adrienne156
                          Robert Lauriston Jan 18, 2007 03:19 PM

                          There are lots of posts here about El Taco Zamorano:


                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            adrienne156 Jan 20, 2007 09:32 PM

                            That's great for the restaurant, although, I wasn't referring to the truck which a lot of those posts are discussing.

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