Black and Silver – Laos Food and Burgers (Oakland)
This is a funny little place on International – formerly a Raiders-centric sports bar, it recently became a Lao restaurant, with some vestigial sports bar menu. The night we went, we were entertained by So You Think You Can Dance on the flat screen TV on the ceiling, and a veritable parade of commercial sex workers outside.
The food is very good – we only had the Lao food that night, because the cook who does all the non-Lao stuff was out of the country. It’s the only place that I’ve been to besides Champa Garden that does the fried rice ball salad – Black and Silver’s version is a little less crunchy, and has more sausage. The larb and Lao sausage were very good as well. Everything tasted fresh and homey – I wouldn’t say that it was superior to any other version I’ve had, but everything was very good.
This is a good alternative to Champa Garden (which frequently seem to have long lines), as long as you’re comfortable with some of the seedier aspects of Oakland life.
2102 8th Ave, Oakland, CA 94606
When we went, for the first time, sometime in June 2010, they had taken the chicken feet salad off the menu because not enough people were ordering it. Luckily, they had enough for one more serving and made us a batch. It was so good. The boneless chicken feet was tossed with crunchy snow fungus and it was the perfect combination of sour, sweet and salty. I hope enough people ask for it that they put it back on the menu.
The Nam Khao (crispy rice salad with sausage) and the Lao style Papaya Salad were excellent too. We've had these items at Vientian Cafe, Green Papaya Deli, Chai Thai Noodle and Champa Garden and we thought Black & Silver's rendition was right up there.
I also ordered the barbecued duck heads and the rice flour noodles in tamarind soup, which were fun to try but I wouldn't make those regular orders. I'm not sure how the barbecued duck heads are supposed to taste since I'm not Lao but the duck heads were kinda dry and a little bitter. The chunky flour noodles in tamarind soup were pretty mushy. They may be authentic but just not my style.
A small dish of fishy, garlicky chili paste came with one of our orders and that paste was made in house. It was absolutely delicious. We wanted to buy a jar from her. The owner said that she sells it at the nearby Lao international market (also on International Blvd).
The prices are dirt cheap. I'm talking less than $6.50 for almost every item. Last note: the hours are a little sporadic. I would try calling first just to make sure they are open before making the trip out there.
2102 8th Ave, Oakland, CA 94606
3801 Allendale Ave, Oakland, CA 94619
Green Papaya Deli
207 International Blvd (at 2nd ave, Oakland, CA
Chai Thai Noodles
545 B International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606
Black & Silver Laos Food & Burger
1927 International Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94606
Yes, their Lao chicken feet salad was really delicious! It's unfortunate that they decided to take it off the menu.
The duck heads are meant to be dry and bitter. =) Though not every Lao person cares to eat duck heads. Only some people, usually older men, enjoy eating those bitter duck heads.
That fishy, garlicky chili paste sounds like Jaew Bong. Was it dark red in color?
I've been to that place before. Haven't tried their Lao fried rice ball salad though, but that dish is pretty much a standard at Lao restaurants...it's usually printed on the menu with the native Lao name for it, which is Nam Khao or a variation of this spelling.
Anyway, when I was at Black and Silver, there was a Chinese couple at the next table who was having Khao Poon (Lao curry vermicelli soup) and it looked really delicious! The couple was raving about it. I haven't been back since, but would love to try Black and Silver's version someday.
It was unfortunate, but when I went there their credit card machine wasn't working so they only accepted cash at that time.
I only had roughly $14 on me so needless to say, I couldn't order much so it was a good thing that it was for a take-out anyway. I kept telling myself, I really should stop depending on the convenience of my visa debit card when ordering out. LOL!
I ordered a Lao chicken feet salad, which was so delicious to me. It's a type of Yum or Nyum salad, which is a category used to describe Lao salads that are spicy and tangy. This salad uses boneless chicken feet and is a traditional Lao dish. The only difference is that at Black and Silver, instead of making their chili sauce from scratch, they decided to take a shortcut and use bottled Thai chili sauce as one of the ingredients...I guess for the convenience. Despite that shortcut, the salad is still very delicious and reminds me of Lao weddings and birthday feasts. Black and Silver is the only Lao restaurant I know of that serves this salad, which again is typically only eaten at home and at private Lao events since most restaurants don't offer it to the public.
I also ordered their Lao papaya salad, which wasn't up to my standards. I'm very picky when it comes to how it should taste. I love Lao papaya salad, but only when it is made by certain Lao individuals in the community including my own sister and a few cousins. Everyone else just doesn't do it any justice because it takes skill to find the optimum balance between the various ingredients.
Again, since I was just sitting there waiting for my order, I was envious of the Chinese couple sitting at the next table because their soups looked so delicious...lol...so I would love to go back and try the Khao Poon dish someday, but the restaurant is somewhat out of the way for me or perhaps I'm just too lazy to drive a few more blocks than usual. =)
The prices at Black and Silver are really cheap compared to what other Lao restaurants are charging. Based on their offerings, it seems like a Lao restaurant catered to those who prefer home-cooked Lao dishes. I would recommend Black and Silver just for their Lao chicken feet salad alone. I still have to try their other dishes especially Khao Poon (but I think they spelled it as Khao Bune on the menu).
I believe I've mentioned this before. I don't have a single favorite Lao restaurant really, but more like favorite Lao dishes from various Lao restaurants throughout the Bay. If only I could take several dishes from each of the usual Lao restaurants that I go to and have a Lao restaurant that serves a combination of those dishes at just one location, I would be a very, very happy person. That way I wouldn't have to drive to so many Lao restaurants just to get a complete meal that gets my approval. =)
Lao chicken feet salad from B&S (Black and Silver).
Lao fried rice ball salad from VTE (Vientian Cafe). <-- should be spelled as Vientiane.
Gaeng Keung Nai from TLK (That Luang Kitchen).
Lao sausage from GPD (Green Papaya Deli).
In the cold and rain of December’s fury, I dropped into Black and Silver Burger for a solo lunch before an appointment in Oakland. I was the only customer in the place.
No chance of getting the recommended chicken feet salad, so I ordered the fried beef jerky instead for an appetizer. My server had to check with the kitchen first to make sure it was available, then she returned and said it would take a little time to fry up fresh. No problem, meanwhile I was entertained by the Lao hip hop videos on the flat screen.
Fried beef jerky, $5, was just okay. Even straight out of the fryer, the outer surface was not as crispy and fragrant as other versions, and the seasoning was more tame. Also, the dip was standard bottled chile sauce rather than a housemade condiment. Still this was a big portion and prices are very low here.
Then a warming bowl of kao poon, $5. I ordered the coconut version, made with tomato-coconut soup base, pork, bamboo shoots, canned baby corn, and thinnish rice noodles (lai fun style).
The very nice garnish plate included dewey fresh Lao type (more aromatic and mature) cilantro, sprigs of mint, shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, scallions, and limes. Most of this went into the bowl.
What really made the noodle soup’s flavors pop was the addition of the dried garlic oil and red chile flake oil condiments that looked homemade.
Thanks for letting us know about Black and Silver Burger. I’m sure I’ll be back.