Spices!3 (12th St. in Oakland) is a super convenient lunch spot for me but I haven't tried it yet.
Any suggestions on what to try? Take out preferred.
A group of us from my office go there about once a month. Note that the whole menu is rated in heat from one to three stars. One star is usually like HOT at any other chinese restaurant. Favorites from our group are:
Kiss of Fire Orange Chicken or Beef - sweet thick orange sauce with just a bit of heat.
Satay Beef Chow Mein Taiwanese Style - good savory beef chow mein on a sizzling platter.
Salt & Pepper Chicken - spicy and crispy chunks of breast meat and skin.
Vegetarian Chow Mein - Very spicy, and lots of veggies.
Tofu Snowed with Garlic - Deep fried tofu and a literal mountain of fried garlic slivers.
Kung Pao Chicken - very hot, not too many peanuts.
Curry Beef or Chicken - thin curry sauce, a little heat.
Just get plenty of rice, and DO NOT order any of the special fruit drinks. They are like watered down Kool-Aide mixed with dry milk powder, and not so refreshing. I recommend going with a group of adventurous people to try a selection, but they do have rice plates at lunch and do a considerable take out business.
My favorite dish is actually the (non-stinky) fried tofu with 1000 chilis (I think that's what it's called). I also really like the spicy hot pot with seafood, the black pepper pork chop, the cucumber in spicy oil and the Shanghai-style rice cake. All taste better when eaten there rather than as takeout (as with most Chinese food, i guess), but the tofu and the rice cakes hold up the best.
The worst dish I've had is their version of double-cooked pork (hui guo zhou in Mandarin - I forget their translation. I think it was spicy bacon, or something similar to that). Overwhelming flavor of raw garlic, and very, very salty.
I've had a lot of problems with excess salt at Spices 3 - make sure you order rice if you get takeout, as it doesn't necessarily come with the order.
369 12th St, Oakland, CA 94607
I also like the plain fried stinky tofu, but agree that you should not take it to the office. In fact, I only order it for dinner there, and only if I'm not going anywhere afterwards (sauce is variably garlicky, am not sure about stinky tofu burps).
I concur on the numbing spicy cucumber.
For take out lunch you might try the pork chop noodle over rice. They have a good version of this dish. I also like the soup noodle version (in fact I order it more often), though it would not be convenient for takeout lunch unless you keep a big soup-noodle bowl at work.
The fish dishes I've tried are very good, but the only one I can remember the name of is the fish filet with tofu in hot oil (actually not even sure about that one).
I used to go there a lot for dinner, and still go a couple times a month. In my experience, the preparation quality is a little bit uneven, some times will be distinctly better than others, but mostly good. (Once or twice with take out I have gotten something I didn't think was prepared very well, even allowing for the usual take-out degradation). However I will agree with other posters that most of the food is strongly to heavily salted, and might be a problem for some people. Also, many if not most dishes are quite oily, albeit mostly authentically so, but I know many people find that off putting, and even I sometimes have a problem with it.
Spices! 3 is also hotter than most places in Oakland Chinatown (makes sense, others mostly Cantonese), but I don't think it is that hot, really. (Compared to many Indian or Thai places. It is definitely much less than Ruen Pair medium).