Old Weang Ping Thai restaurant in east Oakland
On recommendation from a colleague, I recently tried this tiny Thai restaurant, tucked inconspicuously inside a house on a residential street near Mills College.
The experience of eating here is, at first, a bit unnerving, as you have to knock loudly on the door before the owner emerges, unlocks it, and lets you in. There are bars on the windows, and the owner locks everything back up before he shows you to your table. (I teach only a few blocks away and don't find the neighborhood that worrisome, but it is still east Oakland.)
Once inside, we found a smattering of tables and booths under a thatch awning. Everything was a bit worn around the edges, as if this place was a vestige of another decade, but we found the vibe intimate and cozy, like eating in someone's home. When we were there on a Saturday evening, only two other tables were occupied; both couples had just finished their meals and struck up a spontaneous conversation, exchanging happy sighs about their dinners.
The food here is intriguing enough that I will definitely return. We had a tasty fish curry and one of the specials of the day, a deliciously smoky eggplant dish that still taunts my memory. The closest thing I can compare it to is the eggplant at the Cambodian restaurant, Battambang, in downtown Oakland, but the sauce here was even smokier, the flavors more interesting. My husband, who usually hates eggplant, couldn't stop eating it.
After our meal, the owner brought out two complimentary bowls of a green dessert. It reminded me of the silky, gelatinous desserts at Champa Gardens, though this one was not soaking in coconut milk. We were surprised at how good it was.
The restaurant appears to be a two-person operation. The owner, a shy but kindly presence, takes all of the orders, and his wife does the cooking. Altogether, it was an enjoyable meal and definitely a bit more offbeat than all the Thai places in the East Bay we've tried. Have other chowhounds eaten here? If so, what dishes do you recommend?
Old Weang Ping Village
6217 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland
re: Robert Lauriston
I would hate to see this place become popular, or (god forbid) trendy, but it's been a favorite for years. They are only open for dinner, 5pm-10pm or later. The owner, Pat, is the entire front of house, and his wife is the entire kitchen staff. They are a great team, but you have to realize that service may be slow, or very quick, depending on the circumstances of the evening.
The menu is great, because it's basically Thai to order, however you want it. Pick a protein, pick a sauce, or just tell Pat what you like, and it'll be great! I usually get chicken in Panang Curry, and mahi mahi in a green curry. The sticky rice is fantastic!
I took a friend there for dinner, and he'd lived in Thailand for several years. He ordered a Som Tum salad (green papaya), not on the menu but a very common Thai dish, and wanted it extra spicy. Pat took care of him; he was sweating it was so hot. He also said the food was the most authentic Thai home cooking he'd ever had this side of the Pacific.
Go, enjoy, don't tell all your friends....
I just found my copy of the takeout menu, but it doesn't list the days or hours. It does, however, have a different phone number (510-430-8771) than the one I listed above, which I found on the web. It also mentions that they do not accept credit cards.
The takeout menu is pretty simple, divided into appetizers, salads, rice and noodles, and a variety of curries & sauteed sauces, which come with a choice of vegetables, meat, or grilled seafood, including tilapia, salmon, catfish, trout, snapper, dover sole, prawns, calamari, and mahi-mahi, all for $6.95. (The fish curry we had that night was mahi-mahi). I wonder if they really have all those varieties of fish everyday. Seafood does seem to be big here as they also offer fried prawns, fried calamari, fish cakes, crab cakes, prawn salad, calamari salad, sardine salad, and gumbo. Everything is named quite simply; the one odd name that sticks out is "Barbarian Soup." If anyone tries it, let us know what's in it! On our visit, we were rather disoriented by the crazy entry process and just went with the owner's recommendations. Now I wish we had looked over the menu more carefully and asked them about their predilection for the sea.
One more tip: When we first knocked on the door, no one answered. Fortunately, a local resident came by to pick up some take-out and told us that he often had to call them on his cell phone to open the door. So it might be worth carrying the number with you when you go.
re: Lillian Hsu
Monday they are closed. So dont go and knock on the door and wait cause know one will open the door no matter how hard you knock.
This place is well worth the trip for the ombiance and the food. Too top that is real cheap. Go to any Thai resteraunt on College Ave or Berkeley expect to pay double.
This is a CASH ONLY!!!
They also have a large table in the back for parties.
The "Barvaian Soup" Is good spicy soup mave of spice and root base. I thought is was better than my usual coco nut milk soup
It has been several years since we dined at this little gem. It is so inconvenient for us and such a hassle to get there and then to get in.
ALL of the appetizers are excellent; we generally ordered two appetizers and an entree each. I liked the sauces in the dishes so much, that I was content w' spooning them over the rice, never mind the veggies or protein.
I know this isn't very helpful, but I appreciate restaurants where I am content w/ appetizers and sauces!