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Hopscotch (Oakland)

dunstable Apr 27, 2013 11:52 AM

There doesn't appear to be a thread dedicated to Hopscotch for some reason. I went there last night for the first time, and enjoyed it immensely, as did my dining companions. Very quickly:

1. Grilled chrysanthemum with poached jidori egg, bamboo shoot, and squid ink. A clever combination of flavors and textures that works very well, and which probably won't offend Alice Waters devotees.

2. Ginger braised duck gnocchi with brown butter creme fraiche, green onions. Very good indeed; I was quite pleased with it.

My companions had the duck fat chips (it is what it is; not bad at all if that's your thing), the pork chop (very nice, standard apple-y pork chop deal), and the day boat scallops (very nice, she said). We all had a "Yonsei Oyster," which is sea urchin, salmon roe, and citrus soy (also very nice, reminded me of the above-average items at Bar Crudo). Everyone was pleased. Cocktails were excellent, desserts were very nice (I had some sort of strawberry tart concoction with kernel corn and kernel corn ice cream, which was delicious.)

The server was very helpful and friendly, and I also requested as little salt on the food as possible, which they were able to accommodate.

Anyway, I would happily go there again. Below, a couple of photos. One is the gnocchi, the other is the chrysanthemum.

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  1. Robert Lauriston Apr 27, 2013 12:31 PM

    Huh, I could swear I posted about the meal I had there.

    Here's a thread about the late-night ramen menu:


    1. s
      shanghaikid Apr 27, 2013 09:59 PM

      went in the early days before they had a liquor license.
      -got comped a st. george cocktail. amazing drink!

      food wasn't hitting on all cylinders. probably better now
      -steamed clams in lamb/pork broth very tender, excellent broth..
      -first base burger not executed well, came med. rare but not so juicy.
      -covina sea bass wasn't very flavorful.

      servers very professional, helpful, just the food wasn't up to expectations.

      1. a
        absc Apr 28, 2013 09:13 AM

        I also enjoyed the Yonsei Oyster. The fried chicken was very good, as was the carrot cake with cream cheese ice cream. Thumbs up as well for the cocktails. The two that we tried were both quite good.

        1. t
          TopoTail Apr 28, 2013 04:18 PM

          The Yonsei Oyster is to die for. The best oyster preparation I have ever eaten. I've also had the burger, which was terrific, and wife had the fried chicken, which was quite nice (but I think it would be better if prepared bone in). My one disappointment was the fish and chips, which I had one afternoon and found disturbingly oily and with a not pleasant aftertaste. (The chips were the aforementioned duck fat chips and were excellent.)

          1. singleguychef Apr 29, 2013 12:37 PM

            I thought the food was interesting although menu limited. I especially remember liking the crunchy salad. But I felt the service was a bit standoffish when I went, so I've never really made an effort to go back.

            1. bbulkow Jun 8, 2013 08:12 AM

              Visited after the Art Murmur, impressed enough. Walked in at 10:15 when we realized just about everything was closing - we were parked near Hawker Fare (which had chicken heart skewers on the chalkboard so we would have stayed as GF is a huge fan) which closes at 10 but turned us away at 9:45, and Barlata closes at 10. Scrolling through the yelp list feeling uninspired I saw the name hopscotch.

              We didn't know about the 11pm ramen shop action, but were happy with our food.

              The cocktails were solid enough. I ordered a straight manhattan as well as something off the list. The manhattan seemed to be almost all rye, an effect I get when ordering the second drink - the bartender thinks they're doing a favor by adding more booze. Pinot by the glass was good.

              Amuse! Nice to see an amuse. Tomato + black sesame. Pretty nice, but a few hours earlier we had our first home tomato, and this one was not nearly as good. Liked the BS to kick the mouth into gear though, interesting choice.

              First course was "little green salad", which had strange crunchy bits and "sea beans" and almost an undefinable amount of other things.

              "Tenpura" (mispelling or something clever?) was slightly different from the standard tempura in small ways, like the yuzu sea salt and a strange sweetness imparted to each piece --- like dipping in the dipping sauce but there was no sauce. Tasty.

              Fried chicken was pretty awesome. The piece was a half-chicken, as one piece, which is impressive on the plate. The carrots by the side were especially good. The entire thing was super juicy, quality of the chicken was supurb, skin was crunchy, had a certain kick under the crumbs.

              Desert was a standout. Strawberries and cream. The Strawberries were both fresh-sliced and "yuzu macerated", they looked a little pickled - these were better - and cream anglaise with matcha, which was subtle. The strawberry season has seemed a little light this year, so good to be reminded.

              Overall - I don't think I was the best of audience. It had been a long week, I dove right into a numbing cocktail, and we were saddened by the art murmur / FF. Last summer, FF was a Thing, a spontaneous happening where you could feel a real community. They've tamed it, made it a street fare, with booths and commerce front and center. It all packs up at exactly 9pm, and there's plenty of cops. At the risk of "you should have been there when", I felt like one of those Burning Man old timers --- "you remember before there were roads, in what, 98? that was the real burning man". Things change and evolve, and something of the strange weirdness of FF 2012 is rare and fragile, and burst like a soap bubble.

              Oddly, the two people next to me were also of the same experience at FF, we talked a little. We also ordered the exact same menu (except they added a burger, we stuck to our common plan of two apps, one entree, just put it in the center of the table please). I wondered if the table was a fellow CH....

              7 Replies
              1. re: bbulkow
                chefj Jun 8, 2013 09:53 AM

                We were there last night as well.
                We thought the Cocktails were very good, ordered from their Cocktail Menu. Inventive and crafted well.

                I think there were Ten different Veges on the Tenpura(not sure as it was eaten very quickly by a fellow diner)

                Agreed on the Fried Chicken, though I still think Miss Ollies quite a bit better.

                Pork Chop was very good nice texture, flavor and super juicy from its brineing.

                Burger was not only a good deal, but very well made obviously hand made with a loose pack. The Tounge was a nice addition though a bit more of it would have been nice.

                The only real let down was the Sweet Potato Gnocci with Chiogga Beets and Asparagus. The Sweet potato did not really come through and nothing in the dish really stood out.

                I really thought the Pastry Chef is doing great stuff. Not overly gimmicky just great depth and melding of flavors. The sliced Strawberries were not great but the macerated ones were great. The Butterscotch Pudding and Chocolate Mousse were also very good. The Almond? "Cracker Jack" served with the Mousse was playful and delicious.
                We will be back.

                1. re: bbulkow
                  absc Jun 9, 2013 08:11 AM

                  I asked about the spelling of tenpura and was told a long story about it being the proper spelling. No idea if it is true, but not a typo.

                  1. re: absc
                    Robert Lauriston Jun 9, 2013 08:34 AM

                    That's how it's pronounced in Japanese, but it's conventionally romanized as tempura.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      vincentlo Jun 28, 2013 03:06 AM

                      This was discussed in details when I was learning Japanese. The only consonant allowed to follow a vowel is "n." So one can't even write anything except an "n" after each vowel/syllable/sound. The reason tenpura turns into tempura is that the "n" sound naturally warps into an "m" sound when one tries to pronounce tenpura because of the "p" in tempura.

                    2. re: absc
                      Tripeler Jun 9, 2013 06:43 PM

                      Actually, both spellings are used in Japan. The same goes with shinbun and shimbun (newspaper). While using roman letters to express Japanese often has variations, it is nothing like the nightmare of using Japanese phonetics to do English or (more ridiculously) French.

                      1. re: Tripeler
                        MagicMarkR Jun 11, 2013 03:22 PM

                        If I am not mistaken, the hiragana character you would use to write tenpura/tempura in Japanese is the squiggly-looking capital L-shaped hiragana character, which by itself is pronounced as a short -n'

                        1. re: MagicMarkR
                          Tripeler Mar 22, 2014 08:15 PM

                          Yes, that's right. You are thinking of ん.
                          But tempura is usually written with Chinese characters with Japanese pronunciations that better fit the original Portuguese word. See the story at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempura

                          天婦羅 or 天麩羅

                          I sort of like the second version better as it is more "food like"

                  2. Robert Lauriston Jun 8, 2013 07:25 PM

                    Had a great brunch today. Lots of very appetizing choices, it was hard to pick.

                    Nice endive and roasted summer squash salad with seabeans etc., very original.

                    Bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and poached egg sandwich was messy and hard to eat but delicious, maybe the one thing I've had there with no noticeable Asian twist.

                    Kimchi fried rice had great flavor and crunchy texture. I'd probably skip the pork belly next time.

                    Sparkling Bonarda by the glass was a treat. Finished with the off-menu "Javalina" made with draft Asahi Kuronama Black, Averna, and lemon juice, super-refreshing.

                    1. f
                      foodeye Jun 11, 2013 04:57 PM

                      Hopscotch is doing a 3-courses for $30 special, to celebrate its first birthday, through Sat. 6/15.

                      1. n
                        Nineteen Jul 30, 2013 11:54 AM

                        Just went to Hopscotch Sunday for a late dinner. The warm mushroom salad was the best dish of the meal for me. Very tasty! I enjoyed my braised lamb soba while my husband thought his hamburger was fine (and he even ate the beef tongue!). The pistachio tart with peaches and vanilla ice cream was an interesting combo, but the texture of the tart didn't work for me. A nice meal all around!

                        1. Robert Lauriston Sep 2, 2013 11:01 AM

                          Had another great brunch.

                          The fish in the fish & chips ($12) was the best I've had since Sea Salt closed, maybe better. Their duck-fat potato chips are a nice substitute for the traditional fries. Great yuzu aioli. This dish is on the lunch menu as well.

                          Tasted the house-salted halibut scramble ($15), good. The deliciious "cast iron skillet potatoes" that come with the egg dishes are creamy, reminiscent of a gratin dauphinois.

                          Can't beat the Javelina for a refreshing drink on a warm day.

                          1. b
                            bouncepass Sep 4, 2013 12:27 AM

                            Tried the Yonsei Oyster (very nice bite, but for $5 not sure I'll do it again) and the fried chicken. They now leave the drumstick bone in which I like but otherwise deboned. I really like how the entire piece of meat is a fairly constant thickness so it cooks very evenly ensuring that all the meat is juicy with a minimum of overcooked bits. Flattening also gives more surface area for crust. I had Miss Ollie's last week and I preferred Hopscotch somewhat to my surprise since I'm generally a traditionalist.

                            Look forward to returning with a group to try more dishes as well as a cocktail.

                            1. daveena Mar 22, 2014 11:25 AM

                              Had a really good meal here the other night.

                              The starters we had were refined and would not have been out of place at Benu. The Yonsei oysters (with sea urchin, salmon roe, and citrus soy) were a perfect sweet briny bite, and the risotto with asparagus, red wine and quail egg was everything I look for in a risotto (deep umami punch, slightly loose texture, perfect chewiness).

                              The mains were more rustic but satisfying in their own way. I loved the quail stuffed with rice, a new dish they were testing out that night. The First Base Burger was very good but I found it a little overpowered by the pickled onions. Fried chicken was excellent.

                              Dessert was donuts with butterscotch custard - the donuts themselves are good but not particularly notable. The custard was great, with a deep burnt caramel flavor. I'd eat a tub of it straight.

                              With all the other newer, hotter places opening in the last few months, it seems much easier to make same day reservations now. While it's not a cheap meal (we averaged $50 pp with one cocktail each, after tax and tip) it's a really good value.

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