EAST OAKLAND: Saigon Deli Sandwich + Taco Valparaiso = Mexican-Vietnamese fusion. While they aren't listed on the menu, you can, in fact, order a shrimp a la diabla banh mi, a fried-fish banh mi, or a carne asada banh mi. In banh mi form, the al pastor has its saltiness balanced by the sweetness of the Vietnamese pickles, and by the fact that all of the extra sauce gets soaked up, deliciously, by the sturdy bun. Photo: Shrimp a la diabla, Asian-style. (1400 14th Ave).
Behind the counter, a huge grill keeps the meats coming for bun salads and banh canh soups, both made using homemade noodles. They also server creditable banh mi, Vietnamese baguette sandwiches, which aren't the best in London – you'll have to go further east for that – but are authentically lighter than their French cousins; the meats deliver good flavours and, crucially, the shavings of pickled carrot and mooli are sharp enough to jangle your taste buds. Elsewhere, the menu runs from a…
Pal's Take Away, Uptown OAK: started 7 years ago in the back of a San Francisco Mission district liquor store. Not a traditional East Coast-style deli; the place is best known for the uniqueness of Mason's excellent sandwiches. For example, fried Laotian sour sausage and mayonnaise spiked with yuzu and soy sauce are the main components of one of his most popular sandwiches. And another of his sandwiches features roast wagyu ("American Kobe") beef & house-made pimento cheese. Now @ Uptown…
TAQUERIA SINALOA (2138 International Blvd): some of Oakland’s most amazing Mexican food comes piping hot from taco truck windows. Fruitvale is dense with taco trucks, but even with so many options to choose from, Taqueria Sinaloa is a standout. Check out the main location by International and 22nd where two trucks are stationed, parked at all hours, one focusing on seafood and the other serving up chicken, beef, pork, and vegan options.
El Gusano, the Oakland sequel to San Francisco’s successful Tropisueno: taqueria during the day, full service Mexican restaurant at night. Located in the former 1015 Clay restaurant space. The old-school combination plates — your choice of tacos, enchiladas, tamals or flautas (two items for $10.95 and three for $12.95, served with rice and beans)
Mariscos La Costa (3625 International Blvd., Fruitvale, Oakland) A bargain among bargains. Fish and seafood either cooked or in ceviche form star in salsa-based coctels or piled onto tostadas. Coctels in the $9 range, tostadas heaped with the likes of lime- and chile-infused shrimp and octopus for $5.50. A complete steal. Park in the free lot, order at the counter, and then dig in under the covered half-walled patio. Open 8:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily. No alcohol. Cash only. (510) 533-9566
East Bay Spice Co., an Indian-inspired cocktail lounge in Berkeley, Calif., offer cashew and raisin naan, chicken samosas, tandoori tacos and saag paneer just to name a few. Also, the Opium War, the Royal Charter and Samsara are some of the featured cocktails.
At Burma Bear, assertive Burmese spicing shows up in the pork ribs, which get paired with coconut rice. Lim’s signature barbecue sauce tops the kalua pork, making that a Hawaiian-Burmese mash-up. Beef brisket goes in another direction when drizzled with chimichurri sauce. And the traditional Burmese tea leaf salad is freshened up with kale, fish sauce and tamarind. The two soups offered show Lim’s divergent interests: a classic Burmese catfish-noodle soup called mohinga. The other? Chili.