Downtown Oakland is really turning into a vibrant area with great restaurants and bars. It’s always had a couple good restaurants and bars, as well as the Paramount Theater, but lately it seems like a new, great place has opened everytime I go down there.
Last night, we discovered the Crown Wok Restaurant. It recently appeared on the same block as Mexican, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurants. Two good signs – 1) most of the patrons were Asian, and 2) the tanks holding the live fish and crabs were clean. We ended up having potstickers, the Hong Kong style crispy soy sauce chicken, and the salt and pepper prawns. The potstickers were very good and the chicken was fantastic. It was roasted perfectly, with a slightly sweet soy coating on the skin.
The salt and pepper prawns were pretty good, though slightly over cooked. Also, they didn’t bring us a bowl of warm tea and lemon to clean our hands at the end. They did bring us a second set of clean plates halfway through the meal, but I always enjoy the ritual hand soaking at the end of our meals at Yuet Lee.
My cookie had a groovy, 70’s-style fortune:
“Change is happening in your life, so go with the flow.”
After dinner, we walked over to Pacific Coast Brewing for beer (Arrogant Bastard ale, yum), cider, and free WiFi. We had originally planned to eat at Pacific Coast, but they’re still renovating their kitchen. Their menu has always been limited due to their tiny kitchen. It’s even more limited, now, since the menu are restricted to what they can grill on their patio. Since the glass and plate washing area is also under construction, everything is served in plastic glasses and on plastic plates. It’s certainly not ideal, but I don’t mind supporting them while they improve the place.
In addition to the bonus of offering free WiFi, Pacific Coast has a great collection of framed magazine covers in the men’s bathroom. One timely cover was an issue of Sports Illustrated with Jose Canseco. Because of the way he is turned as he’s swinging his baseball bat, it looks like he has a 26 inch waist and a 46 inch chest. Even if you ignore the illusion, he does have some unnaturally burly looking forearms and shoulders. If he hadn’t already admitted he used steroids, that photo would certainly suggest it. Other choice covers include some San Francisco 49ers program guides and Cal-Stanford Big Game program guides going back to the 1960’s. One special treat was something I had never seen before – a copy of the Oakland Stompers Grapevine. The Stompers were a soccer team that played in the NASL for all of one year, 1978.
After we left Pacific Coast, we spotted a movie being filmed on Washington Street. I took a photo with my Treo, but the bright lights for filming, surrounded by the dark evening, were sort of a worst case scenario for the Treo 600’s already mediocre camera. The actress was a young Indian woman dressed in what appeared to be a traditional sari, but what do I know. After they wrapped the shooting, several other Indians came up to have their photos taken with her.
Finally, we drove a relatively short, but a bit too far to walk with my somewhat heavy laptop, distance to Soizic for dessert (pecan tart with white pepper ice cream and apple-strawberry fruit crisp). Soizic is a great bistro and is excellent for lunch and dinner. They also have a well balanced wine list.
Crown Wok 1019 Clay St. at 11th Oakland (510) 625-1005 Open 7 days 11 am - 10 pm
Pacific Coast Brewing 906 Washington St. between 9th and 10th Oakland (510) 836-2739
Soizic 3rd & Broadway near Jack London Square Oakland (510) 251-8100