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).
Thanks for all the recommendations.
At lunch yesterday I tried the pig ear (excellent) the cucumber in hot oil (good, but I'm not sure what the fuss here is all about) and the cold sesame noodles (straightforward and satisfying).
I'm finishing the leftover cumber as a type. Nice breakfast.
I'll be sure to try some of the other recommendations in the coming weeks.