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El Cerrito: Jac's Asian Bistro (9am-2am) – Oh my goodness (really!!!) … I finally 'get' Hong Kong-style coffee shops

Thank you guy at the tobacco shop next door who clued me in about the glories of the baked pork chop cutlets with spaghetti.

It was the gleam in his eye when he talked about it that compelled me to order it.

The huge plate of spaghetti came bubbling from the oven covered with two large breaded pork chops. I can’t remember when I’ve eaten so much food in one sitting.

But there are times you need to submit to hot, primal, cheesy bubbly goodness and enjoy every last bite.

There is a choice of red or white sauce. I chose the red which is similar to the type in a Chef Boyardee can. The cheese is the yellow longhorn variety lovingly browned in spots like a finely blistered pizza. .

There is an art … a true skill … to turn such ungourmet ingredients into a wildly delicious and satisfying dish. It is comfort food in the highest form. I salute you Jac.

The $8.88 meal comes with Russian borsch, garlic bread and a choice of coffee or milk tea.

The borsch is a thin tomato based vegetable soup that has a touch of sweetness with a little bit of cabbage, a few carrots and some celery. It is a generous serving.

The garlic bread is sort of the texture of a hot dog bun with a spread of butter and garlic. The milk tea is strong and served in a shiny metal mug.

If I hadn’t had the tip about the cutlets I never would have known that Jac’s served Hong Kong food in addition to dim sum, seafood (lobster tank in the corner) and almost usual Chinese food … you can get moo goo gai pan.

There are three menus and it wasn’t till I asked about the cutlets that they handed me the Hong Kong menu.

I like the slight wackiness of the joint … I was going to get an order of salmon and avocado egg rolls when the pleasant server pointed to the Chinese characters on the side … and when it finally became obvious I didn’t read Chinese, she explained it was only served Sunday.

They bring big lunch plates to the workers in other shops in the strip mall. There are three small sidewalk tables. The interior is no frills but pleasant.

Since they are new I’m not sure how solid those hours are, but the menu says Sun-Thu 9am - midnight Fri-Sat 9am - 2am

I’ll list a few of the dishes I thought were interesting from the nine page menu in the first reply.

I did force myself to order some egg custard tarts. Three warm flaky half-dollar sized tarts with nice custard were $1.88. Next time the sesame balls.

It is located in the same strip mall as Ba Le.

Welcome Jac …the best restaurant to open near me this year.

P.S. My source for the cutlet said the sui mai is good.

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Mac's Wok
10558 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

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  1. From the Hong Kong menu

    - Cheese won tons
    - Salt and pepper tofu cubes
    - Deep fried plain buns with sweetened condensed milk
    - Roti served with curry sauce
    - Curry fish balls and pork skin
    - Pork chop cutlet submarine
    - Chicken steak cutlet submarine
    - Spam and egg sandwiches
    - Baked Portuguese chicken
    - Red bean and ice cream in ice
    - Lemon citron honey drink\
    - French toast

    From the Dim Sum and Tapas(?) menu … the usual stuff and
    - curry beef puffs
    - pork and black egg congee
    - pan fried (or steamed) rice sheet rolls
    - steamed beef tripe
    - combo beef organs with turnip
    - chicken fried rice with salted fish

    From the regular menu
    - baked whole lobster with spaghetti in cheesy sauce
    - ox’s tail with tomato in XO sauce
    - egg foo young with chicken, beef or shimp
    - steak cubes and scallops with macademia nuts in black pepper sauce
    - live clams, fish or lobster
    - seafood chow fun in XO sauce

    All this and much, much more … including stuff like sweet and sour pork, orange chicken, beef and broccoli, Mongolian beef, kung pao chicken … etc

    6 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      This is great- I loooooooooove Ba Le, but it'll be fun to have a new place to try! Thanks!

      1. re: rworange

        We went to Jac's for Friday night dinner. The place was half full, mostly chinese folks. Ordered bitter melon with cod, bok choy with garlic, vegetable chow fun and steamed rice . They brought out complimentary soup - wintermelon in a chicken broth flavored with a few bits of dried gizzard and pork. Portions were generous. Everything was fresh, well cooked, seasoned just right and had good 'wok hay' I was struck by how fresh all the veggies were and the generous garlic bits did not have that old oxidized garlic taste. My dining partner declared the chow fun the best she has ever had. Cheap too - $21 with leftovers for lunch. Over all, this place reminds me of solid old school chinese from my childhood. It was worth the drive from Oakland and we will be back. btw, they are moving a few blocks north to the old Baskin Robbins space in September.

        1. re: mochimunchie

          That is good if that is in the Jay Vee plaza with the Japanese market. It is a more visible place with more traffic in the plaza

          1. re: mochimunchie

            Sounds like a good meal - the old Baskin Robbins space - is that the one near the corner of Moeser?

            1. re: gordon wing

              I believe they're going into the Tofu Yu space some time in mid-Sept.

              1. re: gordon wing

                He gave me a card with the new address: 10558 San Pablo Ave.
                I look forward to the new spot - in much nicer surroundings.

          2. Thanks will check it out

            1. Pork chops, baked spaghetti, borscht, garlic bread, and milk tea . . . classic cha chaan teng comfort food, glad you went for it! Sure you don't read Chinese?

              1. OMG, this looks great, particularly since there are few late-night options in the vicinity. Between this and Rendez-Vous, I think I chose the right time to move back to North Berkeley/Albany.

                1. The menu I picked up today said that Sun-Thurs they close at 11pm. Fri-Sat they close at 1am.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: kc72

                    Thanks. I didn't think that would last long especially since they aren't alll that busy during regular hours. Did you try anything yet?

                    1. re: rworange

                      not yet, I grabbed lunch at Ba Le.

                      Judging by their menu, pretty high hopes/goals for smaller space. It's always nice to have late night options in that area, not too many around. Might be tough for them to draw away the Daimo regulars.

                      Will try soon.