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Feb 1, 2010 06:33 PM

Lunch Oakland Downtown/Lake Merritt

I'm looking for good lunch options within easy walking distance from Superior Court in Oakland, 12th and Fallon. It's been a long time since I had lunch in the area (previous jury duty) but the courthouse is not too far from Chinatown. I'm especially interested in broad Asian options but will appreciate any good spot within a close radius, as we have tight return times - roll calls etc.

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  1. You might check out the Lake Chalet, in the old boathouse...not too far from the courthouse...food reviews have been mixed, but it's worth a try...

    2 Replies
    1. re: Rapini

      if looking for asian, battambang

      i wouldn't consider lake chalet to have mixed reviews, as i have yet to hear a good thing about the food

      if you don't mind walking a bit for phenomenal california cafe food, cafe 15

      1. re: vulber

        I love Battambang's "Sach Ko Chomak" (Cambodian beef skewers). Really tender and delicious.

    2. Rico's Diner is good but a little bit of a walk...6-7?

      1. http://search.chow.com/search?query=&...

        Don't assume you have to head toward downtown. I would walk east and hit Green Papaya on International.

        Green Papaya Deli
        207 International Blvd (at 2nd ave, Oakland, CA

        2 Replies
        1. re: lexdevil

          Second on Green Papaya, great and cheap. Google makes it an 8-9 minute walk.

          1. re: lexdevil

            Today at Green Papaya I had the Lad Na Seafood special - $8.95 for a bowl of big, clumpy noodles (made right there by Mom's hands) with calamari, shrimp and greens in brown sauce. Comfort food option on a rainy day. Thanks again for the recommendation.

          2. Your closest options in Chinatown are probably Banh Cuon Tay Ho (Webster and 12 th - I usually get the bun rieu or banh canh gio heo, although the house specialty is banh cuon), Binh Minh Quan (also 12th bet Harrison and Webster, once consistently named the best Vietnamese restaurant in Oakland - more expensive than the other Viet places. My personal experiences haven't been stellar, and I think reports have been a bit downhill), and Spices 3 (12th between Webster and Franklin. For a solo eater, maybe a noodle soup, or a pork chop rice plate). You could go the other direction as well - I like Chai Thai Noodle and Green Papaya Deli at International and 6th. Even closer is Pho Ao Sen at International and 2nd, and it's had some very good reviews here. I'm usually in that area at night, and a bunch of places down there seem only open for lunch (I always pass by a banh mi place that's closed), so I think it would be worth it to explore a bitl.

            1. Many thanks to all, especially for the new insight into how one can use the general area feature. As it happens, at 10:30 my group was sent home, so I took a look inside Lake Chalet (not yet open for lunch). Might be worth bringing visitors sometime just for the view. Then meandered east where Pho Ao Sen was already crowded for early lunch. My bowl of pho bo was so good! Nice big pieces of tendon in what might be one of my favorite broths - good star anise flavor that didn't overpower the beef. Cries out for more research. Then I grabbed a takeout menu across the street at Green Papaya. They had a Lao sausage special today, and I would definitely give them a try.

              17 Replies
              1. re: Kayde

                A Lao sausage special? But Lao sausage is already one of the regular menu items at Green Papaya.

                Or perhaps was it more like a "special" dish that's made from Lao sausages? If so, what was it like?

                1. re: yummyrice

                  Sorry for the skimpy reporting, but I had just finished a bowl of pho across at Pho Ao Sen and just couldn't try any more. Didn't read the Green Papaya menu through until I got home and don't know how the daily special was different from the Lao sausage on the menu. This question demands further research.

                2. re: Kayde

                  Pho Ao Sen makes one of the best pho bo in the whole Bay Area. Wish it stayed open a little later at night.

                  Pho Ao Sen
                  1139 E 12th St, Oakland, CA

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Really? I've never eaten there before. I'm definitely going to have to try their pho bo someday. Thanks for the rec.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      I was impressed by the broth from the first spoonful - more real beef flavor. I'll definitely be back.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Agreed, they would totally clean up if they just stayed open until 8pm.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Melanie, what did you like about their pho bo? I tried it years ago, but didn't have a good impression. IIRC, broth was heavy on the cinnamon and some of the beef was quite fatty.

                          I had their Bun Bo Hue recently and enjoyed it, probably the spiciest version I've had. Their pho ga was nice as well.

                          1. re: DezzerSF

                            Couldn't find a more recent shot, but here's an older photo of the pho bo with meatballs.

                            I don't find the broth too heavy on spicing but it's definitely there. To me, Pho Ao Sen's pho bo strikes a middle ground between the light, minerally flavors of the original northern style and the dark, vegetal/spiced taste the southerners serve up.

                            "Fatty brisket" should be fatty, are you saying other cuts were too fatty? I've been disappointed by places that state fatty brisket on the menu description then serve up slices of tough, lean meat.

                            Pho Ao Sen
                            1139 E 12th St, Oakland, CA

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Hard for me to recall now, but maybe it was more fat than meat that I disliked. Minor quibble anyway, at this point. I should just give it another shot.

                              Most of my friends seem to order their pho bo kho, beef stew with baguette.

                              1. re: DezzerSF

                                Most places you can specify which meats you want left out of the combo. Sounds like fatty brisket is not your thing. Usually its just a slice or two in the mix.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Yes, I've gone from Tai Gau to Tai Chin, to now just ordering Dac Biet.

                              2. re: Melanie Wong

                                I love fatty brisket, which keeps it "ethnic" and authentic IMO especially when eating Vietnamese Pho.

                                1. re: yummyrice

                                  Try asking for nuoc beo, only for the hardcore.

                                    1. re: yummyrice

                                      Scroll down to the comments - it's the fat created as part of making the soup.


                                      1. re: bbulkow

                                        Wow, I never knew that was an option at Vietnamese restaurants.

                                        When making soups in Lao cuisine, the fat is typically left in the soup because this is what gives the soup a nice and rich flavor. So I never understood why the soups served at Vietnamese restaurants would always be so thin and clear. I always thought that perhaps Vietnamese people just didn't like having excess fat in their soups. But now I know how to ask for a serving of the "fat" to make the pho taste like a home cooked soup.

                                        Thanks for sharing the link.

                                        1. re: yummyrice

                                          Check out the new TrueBurger at 146 Grand Ave (on Grand near Valdez....near the new Catholic Cathederal). I tried their burgers, shakes and mushroom burgers and like In & Out Burgers much better. Their meat is ground on the premises and you can watch them do it. Friendly peole waiting on you as well as the co-owners, Greg Eng and Jason Low,

                                          their website is: www.trueburgeroakland.com