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Need Chinese or Asian lunch rec's near new job in West Berkeley

I just started a new job in West Berkeley very close to Berkeley Bowl West. So for the last month I got lunch almost everyday there and have gotten (gasp!) kind of tired of the food there. I know there is Emeryville Public Market that isn't too far... But I am wondering if there are places nearby (that isn't near campus - too hard to park) that would approximate my old lunchtime regular spots in San Mateo like Shanghai East, Little Shanghai, Noodle Shop (Mao's Home Cooking), Silver House, Sun's Chinese, and Yummy World. Specifically, I want a Chinese spot with good lunch specials that isn't of the "orange chicken" variety and noodle soups. Pho or ramen or a soondubu place would be good too. Please help! Thanks.

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Berkeley Bowl West
920 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA

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  1. Slim pickings nearby for Chinese food. There's great soondobu at Pyung Chang.

    You might want to remove the auto-links to the San Mateo restaurants.

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    Pyung Chang Tofu House
    4701 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Robert and Melanie,
      Thanks for the rec for Pyung Chang. I went today for lunch and got the pan fried sole and soondubu combo for $12.99. Way too much food for one person - two large sole fillets with ample banchan. The real star was the soondubu. Probably one of the best I've ever had. It was luscious, almost creamy, and very flavourful. Will be back to try the other things like the samgyetang and other flavours of jigaes.

      1. re: vliang

        Glad to have the update, need to get back there soon.

        If you should be interested in beef soup, check out Seoul Gom Tang. I've not been to the Oakland location, only the one in Santa Clara.

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        Seoul Gom Tang
        3801 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I can't compare the two, but the Oakland one's gomtang is good.

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          Seoul Gom Tang
          3801 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            It's not the same owners for the Santa Clara & Oakland locations. I like them both, but I think the Oakland spot generally has fresher / tastier kimchi.

      2. If I were in your shoes, I'd be exploring the Korean and Korean-Chinese places in Oakland's Temescal area. Maybe a 10 minute drive and easy to park (free). I've loved every meal at Pyung Chang Tofu House, though it's been a while since my last time there. Hit it for soon dubu or cold noodles.

        Two months ago I dropped into Sura for a quick lunch. It offers three or so lunch specials for $6.75 on weekdays, changing by day of the week. Started with a small bowl of porridge and six panchan (and I was offered refills). Oden, garlicky tomatoes, vegetable fritter, Napa kimchi, jap chae, and seaweed-scallion kimchi.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

        I tried the bbq chicken (leg meat), which was juicy, if a bit shy on the seasoning. I was happy to have a choice of brown rice, studded with legumes, or white rice. I took more than half home with me, the portion was so huge.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

        Sura makes its own infusions of raspberry, blueberry and blackberry for flavoring cocktails. I didn't indulge this time, but maybe for a dinner visit.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

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        Sura
        4869 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        Pyung Chang Tofu House
        4701 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

        4 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Great idea. I wasn't sure how far away Temescal would be as I'm not familiar with the area.

          1. re: vliang

            While I feel the dim sum is better at Saigon Seafood Harbor or Asian Pearl in Richmond, Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood is much closer to you in Emeryville. I believe it has some lunch special rice plates too.

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            Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant
            3150 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

            Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood
            3199 Powell St, Emeryville, CA 94608

            Asian Pearl
            3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

          2. re: Melanie Wong

            Thanks for great rec on Sura. Went today with a co-worker and ordered a spicy chicken BBQ lunch special of the day and a grilled octupus lunch special. A whole table full of food and banchans. Super tasty and well prepared for $10/ea with tip. Can't beat that. They have quite an extensive lunchtime menu that I am looking to try out.

            1. re: vliang

              Yay, thanks for the report back. I'll have to remember that Wednesday is grilled octopus lunch special day. :-)

              That's a target-rich neighborhood so I'm glad you found your way there. The other great thing is that the Korean bbq places almost all have air-con, so that's where you want to be once the weather gets warmer.

          3. If you're driving, head over to Pacific East Mall or China Village

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            Pacific East
            3288 Pierce St # M126, Richmond, CA

            7 Replies
            1. re: kc72

              There are a bunch of restaurants in the Pacific East mall, also Daimo in the parking lot and Saigon (HK Chinese) just down the block. The freeway southbound can get pretty backed up around Albany, though.

              There are a bunch of Vietnamese places in El Cerrito. Banh Mi Ba Le is the only one I can vouch for.

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              Banh Mi Ba Le
              10174 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

              Daimo Chinese Restaurant
              3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

              China Village
              1335 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

              Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant
              3150 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Huong Tra, but I guess it's Richmond.

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                Huong Tra
                12221 San Pablo Ave Ste 8, Richmond, CA 94805

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Here's the Pacific East Mall directory, could be out of date

                  http://www.pacificeastmall.net/list_e...

                  Sichuan Fusion, last I went in August 2009, looks to be still around. It's a good place, provided that you can handle spicy. They have limited non spicy options, and even those the chef feels the need to splash additional white pepper :-). Feels like a nice table cloth semi upscale Sichuan place, and based on my visit, the waiters sounded like they were from Taiwan (at least I noted no shorthand characters on the menu then).

                  VH Noodle House would be a good standy to the pho joint inside. Looks like there's also a Korean BBQ/tofu kind of place but it might be better to just head over to the strip of Korean restaurants in Oakland.

                  I don't think Macau Cafe is there anymore.

                  Ten Ren is still there, and always a pleasure to grab an iced honey green tea, where it still tastes like Taiwan (unlike the other branches....)

                  1. re: K K

                    Macau Cafe is now some place called 100% Sweet Cafe

                    1. re: kc72

                      100% Sweet Cafe.Teppan Japanese, Italian Pasta. Chinese and various sweet things.

                    2. re: K K

                      I like the fish siu mai at Hong Kong Snack House, though everybody else seems to go for the egg puffs.

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                      Hong Kong Snack House
                      3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA

                      1. re: K K

                        skip that Korean place and head to Oakland, as KK suggests. food there is pretty bland.

                  2. Wondering if anyone has had the Chinese food at Oaks in Emeryville lately. Card rooms and gaming places often have more than decent Chinese eats.
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/427788

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                    Oaks Kitchen
                    4099 San Pablo Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608

                    1. The Crispy Fry in the Public Market does really well with Chow Fun actually better than many of the places in China town. Can't vouch for any other of their items though.

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                      Crispy Fry
                      5800 Shellmound St, Emeryville, CA

                      1. I think going up San Pablo Ave. (and thus avoiding the freeway) to hit China Village is a great idea, though I haven't tried their lunch specials per se. In any case, it's my favorite Chinese restaurant in the East Bay. There are several good options on that part of Solano, including Bowl'd (a new Korean rice bowl place), Little Star Pizza (great deep dish), and La Bedaine (French takeout; great quiches and sandwiches).

                        Not Asian, but if I worked near Berkeley Bowl West, I'd probably shoot down for a slice of pizza at Rotten City all the time. I think it's by far the best East Coast-style pizza in the Bay Area. Counter seating only (but their pizza doesn't travel well, so I'd definitely eat in).

                        Other folks are recommending places in El Cerrito, which I think you may find a bit far, but if you're going up that way, Mac's Wok does very good and cheap HK-style cafe fare: pork cutlets over spaghetti, spam and egg noodle soup, etc.

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                        China Village
                        1335 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                        Bowl'd
                        1479 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

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

                        Rotten City Pizza
                        6613 Hollis St, Emeryville, CA 94608

                        La Bedaine
                        1585 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

                        Little Star Pizza
                        1175 Solano Ave, Albany, CA

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: abstractpoet

                          I had Rotten City last week and agree with you that it fulfills my NY pizza hankering like no other I've had in recent memory in the Bay Area. It's definitely on my weekly rotation list now. Unfortunately, the reason I asked for Asian is, while it's harder for me to cook Asian than Cal-Med to cook at home, as I get older, the more I need to have my daily fill of rice and soy sauce... lol.

                        2. Anchalee Thai Cuisine is on Dwight next door to Cafe Trieste. I've always enjoyed their twice cooked pork lunch.

                          Indus on San Pablo just past University is also a fave for the indo/paki craving.

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                          Anchalee Thai Cuisine
                          1096 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94710

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: escargot3

                            2nd on Indus Village. Also Vik's is only a short drive away, for chaat.

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                            Vik's Chaat House
                            2390 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710

                            Indus Village Restaurant
                            1920 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                          2. I live in W Berkeley and I seldom eat Asian near home. If you travel to University Avenue, there are 3 Thai places (including Siam) between San Pablo and Sacramento, several Indian places near that Uni and San Pab (Priya is the one that I like) and a Himalayan place above Sacramento. I think Cha Am? is still open on 4th St. There is a hole-in-the-wall Chinese/Vietnamese place on University and McGee or Roosevelt.

                            Frankly, I usually eat at Guerreros or Popeye's and occasionally at the Cheesesteak Shop.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: chocolatetartguy

                              Further up University near Shattuck is Jayakarta, my favorite dumpy Indonesian place in the area. Parking can be tight but there's a parking lot one block over on Berkeley Way. Going north on MLK will avoid most of the traffic on University.

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                              Jayakarta Restaurant
                              2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                              1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                O Chame is the one on Fourth Street, I think. What about De Afghanan Kebab or the new tacqueria in the old Taco Bell on lower University? What's the name of the hole-in-the-wall C/V place, please? Second on the Priya rec, try the weekday buffet for $6.99!

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                                O Chame
                                1830 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                De Afghanan
                                1160 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                1. re: sydthekyd

                                  I live nearby and Chinese places aren't really what the area does well/at all. Of places that are within the neighborhood, I think the standout places are Vik's Chaat House (chaat), Kabana (Pakistani), Indus Valley (Pakistani), Middle East Market (great flatbreads, no seating), and 900 Grayson (though I wasn't all that excited by my meal there, it was largely about pricing/deliberate overcharging/service than the quality of the food) are the best bets for food. Oh, and I also liked the Priya lunch buffet much more than I expected to.
                                  If you're looking for Chinese, you'll have to travel a bit. China Village is my favorite, largely because I favor Sichuan food. It remains an excellent example--every friend who has been terrified to try the 'szechuan style spicy boiled beef' due to its appearance of swimming in a bowl of spicy red oil has become addicted to the well-balanced flavor. The Pacific East suggestions are also worth going out of your way for--Saigon Seafood Harbor soulds like exactly what you are looking for, and Daimo is good, too. In addition to the Korean places in Temescal, which are reasonably close, Chef Yu's is the Korean-Chinese place, and is good.
                                  The Chinese/Vietnamese on University/McGee is Little Saigon http://www.chow.com/restaurants/40921... I tried it about 5 years ago when I was staying nearby and it was recommended by the mailman and I found it just average, but just ordered a rice plate and hadn't tried any of the chowhound recs. I keep meaning to give it another try. I've also put L&L Seafood in El Cerrito on my list to try because of chowhound http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/665833.
                                  Sorry my list skews north, I swear I only live a couple blocks north of BBW, but I fear/loathe/occasionally buy too much stuff in Emeryville.

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                                  Vik's Chaat House
                                  2390 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                  900 Grayson
                                  900 Grayson St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                  Pacific East
                                  3288 Pierce St # M126, Richmond, CA

                                  Kabana Restaurant
                                  1106 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                  Chef Yu
                                  163 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                                  Middle East Market
                                  2054 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                  1. re: ...tm...

                                    I like the clean, simple dim sum options at L&L, but wasn't there a fire recently? I'd be surprised if it reopened already.

                                    They did make the best turnip cake (luo buo gao) I've had in the Bay Area.

                                    1. re: ...tm...

                                      Middle East Market, I haven't been in a few months but I seem to remember a table and a few chairs in the back along with a tea pot.

                                    2. re: sydthekyd

                                      O Chame is sort of Cal-Japanese. Good though pricey.

                                      There's some seating in the back at Middle East. In that vein, there's also Zaki.

                                      The Casa Latina taqueria is very good.

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                                      O Chame
                                      1830 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                      Casa Latina
                                      1805 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA

                                      Zaki Kabob House
                                      1101 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                                      Middle East Market
                                      2054 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                      1. re: sydthekyd

                                        Yes, O Chame is the place on 4th St. I don't care for Japanese food, so never remember the names of Japanese restaurants.

                                        I went to Little Saigon, once several years ago based on a somewhat rave review from a longtime Cher. At that time it had a more Chinese sounding name, but I understand that the ownership is the same. I got takeout with my nephew and it was very unremarkable. In fact, I would hesitate to go back. They were friendly though and it is the closest Chinese restaurant to Central West Berkeley.

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                                        O Chame
                                        1830 4th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                    3. I work off the Powell Street exit and I go to Little Hong Kong and Sa Wooei in El Cerrito all the time. Mac's Wok, Katana-Ya, and Happy Golden Bowl are all in the same area. Despite the distance, I can be out and back within 1 hr most of the time... depending more on how long it takes at the restaurant than the traffic, though it's true the southbound return is sometimes slow. This is in contrast to the Korean places on Telegraph between 40th and 51st; although closer it's much slower to get to and park. Also going off San Pablo onto Solano is going to add quite a bit of time. University Ave. is just awful. The 99 Ranch restaurants can be a good choice as well. Some things at 168 are quite good and they have amply sized lunch specials, but I thought their version of "ji tiao" was gross. I also prefer VH Noodle to the pho place, but I see you weren't as interested in noodle soup. Daimo is also good. Ruen Pair is easy to get to also, off the Buchanan exit but service is kind of slow. Oakland Chinatown is a bear to get to, and anything past that on 880 is really a pain (i.e. International Blvd/East Lake). If you want to go to Chinatown, sometimes it's faster to take Adeline to 14th or 12th or 8th.

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                                      Katana-Ya
                                      430 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                      Little Hong Kong Restaurant
                                      10443 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

                                      Sa Wooei
                                      10621 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

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

                                      Happy Golden Bowl
                                      10675 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: twocents

                                        Is Happy Golden Bowl still good? I thought I read the chef left or something.

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                                        Happy Golden Bowl
                                        10675 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          I could not say, have not been for some time. Last time I went they also had lunch specials.

                                        2. re: twocents

                                          If you're venturing to Oak Chinatown, then I'd head a little farther south to the Jackson exit and get pho at Ao Sen. They have a tiny parking lot. Get there early though--they get a big lunch rush.