An old colleague just contacted me today about recommendations for Asian restaurants in the SF East Bay. I figured some of you might be interested in my response.
Funny you should mention “authentic” as all the foodies around California are constantly debating what’s “authentic” but for Chinese, I can at least let you know places that taste of or remind me of my father’s and other relatives’ home cooking.
– China Village (1335 Solano Ave, Albany – Link: https://chinavillagealbany.com/): Hidden gem in Albany, which is just north of Berkeley. Good, spicy, Sichuanese.
– Great China (2190 Bancroft Way, Berkeley – Link: https://www.greatchinaberkeley.com/) Just West of the main UC Berkeley campus, it has a modern aesthetic, but it’s where Jen’s planning the banquet for my 50th birthday, so you know it’s got to be good.
– China Live (644 Broadway, San Francisco – Link: https://chinalivesf.com/): Somewhat controversial during the burn-in period. Go for spectacle but don’t expect fantastic food. [It’s possible they’ve improved since last I was there.] Also if you have A LOT of cash ($225/person plus $175/person for wine pairings), you might consider the fine dining restaurant inside China Live, Eight Tables. There are a fair number of reservations available, but it’s even more controversial than the China Live dining room. Here’s a sample review: https://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/the-big-review-chinese-chefs-chateau
– Bangkok Noodles and Thai BBQ (1958 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley – Link: http://bangkoknoodles.com/BKK_Noodles/Home.html): Cheap but good eats in both Berkeley and San Francisco. [Menu f]ocus[es] on noodles and soup.
– Thai House Express (599 Castro St, San Francisco – Link: http://www.thaihousesf.com/): Haven’t been there in a while, but it was good when last we were there.
– Vik’s Chaat (2390 Fourth St, Berkeley – Link: http://vikschaat.com/): Note the hours – they’re primarily a lunch and weekend place. [Seating is c]afeteria dining hall after ordering at the counter (on weekends, there can be quite a queue), but good, popular, authentic chaat (street food). Very good and popular. Don’t miss their selection of lassis.
– Dosa (995 Valencia, San Francisco – Link: https://www.dosasf.com/): Note there are other locations, including one in Oakland, but the place we’ve been to is the one in SF on Valencia. It’s good. We like the [cocktails and] mocktails, and also the very tasty curries and, of course, dosa.
(You get what you pay for. Use Yelp to go to the highest rated/most expensive.)
– Miyozen (1147 40th St, Emeryville – Link: http://gotsushiandsake.com/): I like these folks for cheap, workaday sushi. These folks are down home Emeryville, have a huge menu, serve, we think, a lot of the Pixar folks, and they also run or at least host some annual sushi competitions (upon which the movie East Side Sushi was partly based).
– Kirala (2100 Ward St, Berkeley – Link: https://www.kiralaberkeley.com/): Note they have an express spot more north, in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. Also note they do not offer reservations, so you have to arrive early and queue up. Kirala is almost an institution. They also do robata (the charcoal grilled skewers) and other Japanese cuisine classics. They’re a bit more upscale than Miyozen.
– Ippuku (2130 Center St, Berkeley – Link: http://www.ippukuberkeley.com/): Known for yakitori/robata, they have a solid, rotating, farm to table menu that includes other Japanese dishes, but NO SUSHI. If you order right, you can have squid ink fried rice, or ramen for dessert! They also have a great shōchū nerd worthy shōchū menu, including tasting flights.
– Ramen Shop (5812 College Ave, Oakland – Link: https://www.ramenshop.com/): Another farm to table selection, Ramen shop is pretty solid, with a menu focused on ramen, additional toppings, and cocktails.
– Ippudo (2015 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley – Link: http://ippudo-us.com/): This is an international chain, very highly regarded, and they’re quite popular. I believe they don’t take reservations. You have to queue up. We’ve been there and it was VERY good, very rich, very delicious. Also note they do not allow doggy bags or take-home containers.
– EaterSF: https://sf.eater.com/maps/where-eat-drink-best-restaurants-bars-chinatown-san-francisco
– SF Chronicle: https://www.sfchronicle.com/food/article/Bargain-Chronicles-The-best-meals-in-Chinatown-12256027.php
Let me know if you’d like more recommendations or links or have questions.
Commenters: Feel free to suggest others. My aim was primarily to focus on the east bay, but I obviously suggested some SF restaurants too.
(From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:East-bay-2015.jpg, Author: Staeiou (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Staeiou) CC-BY-SA 4.0 Intl.)