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Jul 16, 2014 10:16 PM

Chowdown Report: Lunch at Nido in Oakland

Today six chowhounds gathered for a delicious paseo through Nido’s lunch time menu.!lunch/c23c8

Nido does not accept reservations. However, its website says that one can call 15 minutes before arrival to be added to the waiting list. Luckily I did so to secure a table for our group, as the place filled up quickly at noon and another large party was turned away.

Let me iterate the dishes, and I’ll ask my dining companions to share their impressions and favorites.

Aguas frescas
Ceviche de pescado
Gazpacho Moreliano x 2
Tacos de puerco adobado
Tacos de barbacoa de res
Quesadillas coloraditas de vegetales a la parrilla
Ollita de pobre con muslito de pollo asado
Tostados de pollo en tinga

Unfortunately, no cemita available today.

With tip and gratuity, our tab came to $21.06 per person.

And in keeping with one of our chowdown traditions, Felice treated us to an extra dessert: fresh mochi filled with black sesame and peanuts from Chinatown.

Nido Kitchen & Bar
444 Oak St
Jack London Square
Oakland, CA

Earlier reports for Nido

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  1. Hi there, do you all gather on a certain day each month? It would be fun to join sometime...tx, MCW

    2 Replies
    1. re: mcw

      Nope, anyone can organize a chowdown--just become a member of the yahoo group Melanie linked, or the North Bay, San Francisco, or Peninsula groups, which are linked in the FAQ to this board, which used to appear in the pinned topics at the top of the board, but that appears to no longer be the case. They are here:

    2. Wish I could have attended, what is that dish that's held up by hands?

      Where did Felice get the fresh mochi w/ black sesame & peanuts?

      1. I have a hard time choosing favorites at Nido because everything is good in their own way, so I will just comment on what stood out to me about each dish.

        They always have a ceviche or aguachile on their menu and the five or six that I've tried have all been different and very good. Today's version had an opaque red sauce which was limey but had other flavors/seasonings blended in that I couldn't identify because they were so well integrated and balanced. Savory, a little spicy, and an acidity that gives the savory component a chance to show through. At the end when the fish was all gone, I had a bite with just the remaining sauce and it was just as enjoyable as my bites with fish.

        Gazpacho - the gazpacho is mostly seasonal stone fruit with some jicama. This time the fruit mixture contained mostly plums, whereas a few weeks ago there were some peaches mixed in. For anyone who likes to sprinkle lime juice and/or chili on fruit, this dish is the fancy and complex version of it.

        Before getting to the tacos, I want to compliment my dining companions on their ability to divide and share these dishes 6 ways. Splitting two tacos, each with various garnishes 6 ways is not for amateurs.

        Pork tacos - the fruitiness version I've had and now I see why people complain when their al pastor tacos don't have enough pineapple.

        Barbacoa tacos - very good but probably the most predictable dish of the lunch. Meat was very tender.

        Veggie quesadilla - this is the dish being held up by the hands. It reminded me of the chard tacos on their winter menu, which are fabulous. I am glad we ordered this since most veggie quesadillas really suck. My piece had chard and yam, another portion had squash.

        Ollita with chicken - the chicken was extremely moist and succulent.

        Chicken tostadas - this is another favorite from this past winter's menu. The shredded chicken was thinly coated in a spicy red sauce, the spiciest of all the sauces we had today. There are a lot of ingredients on the tostadas and I love how they all combine with each other in each bite.

        I already mentioned in the past how their flan is excellent, I order it every time.

        The black sesame/peanut mochi are available at Yuen Hop on Webster. They are made and sold daily and can sometimes be sold out by 2pm or earlier. You can find them near the cash register and if you don't see them just ask if they are sold out that day. I have also seen them at other stores in Chinatown but did not note the names of those stores.

        1. To the right of Melanie's post, I see that one of Chow's most popular posts is one called "No I Don't Want to Split 4 Deviled Eggs 6 Ways: Why Sharing Sucks."

          Clearly, the author wasn't at our Chowdown, which was a master class in how to cut a taco into three portions. Organized, efficient, and hungry, we ordered a balanced collection of eight dishes.

          My horchata was light and refreshing. Sometimes you get slightly heavy horchatas and even some grittiness; this was a much lighter style all around.

          Ceviche was good. A bit sweet and I wondered if they had something tomato paste-based included in it.

          Gazpacho was cubes of fruit, mostly apple and stone fruit from what I remember. I wish they'd just call it a fruit salad with some cotija and chile, but it was actually quite good.

          Tacos de barbacoa de res tasted a bit like an overdone braise to me. Underseasoned and stringy, which was disappointing given this was the dish I suggested we order.

          Tacos de puerco adobado were good, with one of the more intensely fruity salsas I've had in a while. And the tortillas for both tacos were thick enough to enjoy biting into.

          Quesadillas coloraditas de vegetales a la parrilla was a highlihgt. By the time I got around to eating it, the shell had cooled and gotten dry, but I appreciated the balance between cheese and vegetables. The accompanying tomato salsa had just enough zip.

          Ollita de pobre con muslito de pollo asado was great. The chicken was well seasoned had the density of well marinated meat. For someone who wants meat, beans, and rice, it's a straightforward and well executed preparation.

          Tostadas were my favorite, and I'm glad Felice made sure we ordered them. Buttery avocado, rich black beans, crunchy masa disk, meaty chicken, it was exactly as it should be.

          Flan with strawberries was great. I was fascinated by how dense it was, and I liked that the stewed strawberries were just sour enough to balance the creaminess of the flan.

          Nido would be a great addition to any neighborhood. A significant step up in quality over the everyday taqueria, and I was blown away by some of the prices. I could see a local office worker getting take out lunch three times a week here.

          Special thanks to Melanie Wong for organizing the Chowdown and felice for ordering and bringing us such delicious mochi. And thanks to everyone for the company. As good as the food is, the conversation is always better.

          10 Replies
          1. re: LikeFrogButOOOH

            I read that this style of "gazpacho" is from the town of Morelia in Michoacan. I am not sure if or how this gazpacho is related to Spanish versions.

            1. re: felice

              I'm glad to have your experience on hand to stir the gazpacho ingredients until they were uniform and the fruits a bit bruised. Besides stone fruits and apples, there was chile de arbol sauce, crema, and queso fresco.

              We had asked for a double order. When only one was served, we requested the second helping. It was interesting to see the difference between the two. The second one was much redder and had more plums. It was also not as spicy.

            2. re: LikeFrogButOOOH

              Nido sounds worthy, and I'm especially interested in their flan. The flan I recall from my youth was so dense that the spoon would make a sucking sound when you carved into it and pulled it away. Want some now! Thanks for mentioning that particular detail, LikeFrog. Nido deffo on the list for next visit.

              1. re: grayelf

                If this wasn't Flan Napolitano (the kind made with cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk), it certainly replicated the dense texture.

                Felice says that the fruit compote served with the flan changes seasonally. It had a touch of acidity and also a bit of alcohol.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Thanks for the link. I've never made a flan that only took forty minutes -- the recipe I have takes about three hours; got it from a Mexican friend of the family, sort of an heirloom I guess.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Three hours would be more typical. The recipe times of 40 min prep and 25 mins baking seem off to me. Though judging by the amount of bubbles in the flan, I'd say it was baked at too high a temperature (and perhaps too fast).

                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                    I asked about it yesterday when I went with another group for dinner (I recommend dinner over lunch), and they said it also contains coconut cream. They did not mention cream cheese.

                    1. re: felice

                      Thanks for the clue. Wade and I thought we tasted coconut.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        The dessert menu (which we didn't see) says coconut flan. It's more subtle than other coconut flans I have had.

                        The first time I had it, there were almost no bubbles. The number of bubbles our serving had is probably average in the 10 or so times we've ordered it. It affects the mouthfeel a bit but not the density and flavor.

                  3. re: grayelf

                    Let me know when you are going to visit and I will plan to join you!

                2. My first time. Everyone was gentle with me. What an experience. The food was wonderful, but eating with a group of like-minded people definitely enhanced the enjoyment. Here are my photos.

                  Had time after lunch to check out East Bay Restaurant Supplies around the corner. Next time I need a gross of plastic forks I now know where to go.