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Nov 8, 2013 02:21 PM

Osmanthus Oakland

This is a new venture by Syhabout in the old Nan Yang space, open only a week now. Dropped by the other night @ 645 with 4 people, not crowded for the duration of our meal. We tried
--fresh tuna avocado - boring, nothing new about this rendition
--shrimp toast - ok
--mouth watering chicken - decent, but MCF blows them out of the water
--dry fried chicken wings - ma la very light, but good portion
--dry fried green beans - ok, we were hoping for something more blistery
--smoked trout fried rice - light and tasty
--garlic noodles - quite good, although a tad greasy

Portions were decent, on the medium side. They suggest two dishes per person for a meal (total ~ $25pp). Execution was fine. Space is pretty but somehow seems smaller than before.

The consensus in our group was that the food was pleasant but not memorable, mainly because the spicing was so mild. The sichuan peppercorn used in several dishes was sparing enough that no one in our group felt any effects. It's surprisingly in line with the other Chinese places on College Ave that cater to the neighborhood--nothing daring but with drinks. Frankly, I'd rather have something a la Mission Chinese Food flavors. I wish they would go for it!

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  1. Thanks for the report, I've been looking forward to this restaurant. However I don't believe its a Sylhabout enterprise - he just opened Box and Bells. This has different owner/chef combo running it. See

    1 Reply
    1. re: jhinky

      Good to know. I think I misread that article.

    2. Hope they pick up the spicing--the menu looks so promising.

      Just to clarify: Osmanthus owner/chef are Michael Chiang and Julia Klein. Syhabout just opened Box and Bells down the street at College/Chabot.

      1. Thanks for the review. A crying shame about the spicing. I keep hoping there'd be a decent Chinese alternative along College.

        1. Any more recent visits? Wishing for an uptick in recommendations, since it's in our 'hood. (If not, promise to try it and write….)

          1 Reply
          1. re: sundeck sue

            We went again last night. It's still quiet so the plus is that you can have a conversation quite easily. Brussel sprouts were fine but they left a fair amount of oil at the bottom of the bowl. Short ribs + kabocha were tender but rather straightforward flavor that I can't recall. I don't recommend the dan dan noodles. Very salty brown sauce and noodles were too soft for my taste. Spicing seemed more muddled this time and even less distinct. It's a place where I'd go to have a drink and chicken wings and trout fried rice in a pleasant setting. There are days when I crave just that.

          2. We ended up deciding to go tonight, just after I wrote.

            The place was packed; and the noise level was crazy-loud. I first assumed that, as the oldest in the room, we were having what was an old-folks problem, but, lip-reading, I made out that the couple next to us, who were in their mid-to-late twenties, were complaining to one another about the acoustics as well, so I mentioned it to the hostess when we headed out.

            The service was good (though tables on either side, who got their food just as we sat down, got comp-ed dessert, apparently because service had been slow).

            We really liked the shrimp toasts. We enjoyed our beef tenderloin and garlic noodles--good, if not great. And the string beans, while well cooked, were shy on salt/soy.

            After we left, I belated grabbed this week's East Bay Express from a news box on College-- and when we got home, I found a review!


            1 Reply
            1. re: sundeck sue

              I haven't been to Osmanthus, but have been nearby mid-afternoon a couple times recently and there has been a strong garlic smell coming from the place, making me hope the garlic noodles might be good.