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Abura-Ya (Oakland)

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Pop-up open Thurs.-Sun. 6-10 in Garden House, 380 15th St. Cash only.

Japanese-style fried chicken thighs, wasabi cole slaw, sunomono, yaki onigiri, good and cheap.

The guy said he'd also be open tonight for National Night whatsit. East Bay Express article:


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  1. The word Kara-age literally means Chinese style frying. That's part of Chukka Ryori = Chinese cuisine in Japan. So it's really a Japa-Chino style fried chicken. Just a comment, not criticizing anybody. These guys have put together something unique, so they can call it anything they want.

    I find that most young Japanese I've met are not familiar with the history of the foods they eat. Usually only ramen, gyoza, and mapo tofu get credit for being Chinese dishes. But items like kara-age, chawan mushi, soba, udon, buta kakuni, shabu shabu, yuzu lemons, etc. are considered Japanese, even though they're Chinese imports.

    The "Oil Shop" name is funny. Seems like a Japanese adaptation of a chicken wings business, but using "nuggets" tossed with one of your pick of 3 sauces or 3 spice mixes (4 or 8 chicken thigh morsels for $7-$12 - Less than a month open and they've already raised prices by $1). You can add rice for $2 or $3 more. Looks like just half cup of white rice.

    The food portions are modest, so Abura has several side dishes ($4-$8) and vegetarian options you can add.

    I don't like the checkered parchment paper they use. In my experience the inked parts leach into hot foods. Don't know if it's soy based ink, but probably non-toxic.

    3 Replies
    1. re: L C

      I wouldn't call those nuggets, they're good-sized pieces.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        True, Mc nuggets are much smaller. Sorry about that. There's probably 4 thighs in the 8 piece order. In Japan, when explaining Kara-age to foreigners, most everyone describes them as Japanese chicken nuggets. Because of how popular they are.

        Another version is Tatsu-age, which is the same dish except that the batter has potato flour (more delicate crust). I've seen a few American chefs make this, but still call it Kara-age on their menu because they thought Americans wouldn't recognize the name. That just perpetuates ignorance about the food.

      2. re: L C

        Need to find a place in San Francisco that makes (I guess) the 'Hawaiian' version... 'Mochiko Chicken'... ^^

        Only place that made Mochiko Chicken (I liked)... Sadly closed ages ago, and was located on Judah... Way out in the avenues...