Food spotting: Oakland

This gem is definitely my favorite find just before 2018 came to an end. It is so close to Baby Zand's school, which makes it the perfect meeting spot with friends, but it's also super zen just for myself, with my laptop or a good book... even without a book, since they have an entire shelf of cookbooks you can indulge in while there, mainly to learn all about fermenting your favorite foods at home. You have to get over the area it is located in. But once you walk in and check out the menu you will find its well worth the visit to the Mac Arthur neighborhood. Parking on the street is usually easy to find, and even though this place is really small, you can usually grab a seat to enjoy your bowl of beautifully prepared and super fresh food.

The entire menu focuses on either whole grain bowls or toast variations. I haven't tried any of the toast yet, since I am trying to avoid gluten since last summer's antibiotic debacle (but hello miso browned butter avocado toast, I've got my eye on you!). All the toasts are made on local Acme bread, which I am slightly addicted to, so one day soon I shall give in and try the toast section. For now, however, I don't feel like I am missing anything, since the grain bowls are super satisfing. There is a drier grain bowl made with brown rice or a more congee like (jook) wet bowl. Both come with many different options to choose from such as seaweed, power veggie, kimchi, or for the meat eaters chicken, pork sausage, or eggs. I love the power veggie version with extra kimchi. The bowls come with a zesty tahini ginger sauce, there are burdock pickles and roasted kale and little sprinkles of this and that that just give you a taste explosion in your mouth. It is absolutely amazing, and words can't do this experience justice. I think the best thing about this place is that you don't feel like you are getting the same kind of hipster bowl with quinoa and kale you can get anywhere. The ingredients really take you out of your comfort zone and into a beautiful taste sensation. For the sweet cravings, there are mochi muffins by Berekley's Third Culture Bakery as well as a sweet jook with berries and nuts. The tea selection has sadly recently gotten smaller, and since I don't drink coffee I can't judge the coffee menu. However, the turmeric latte is killer intense! Not sugary like most of the popular places serve it now. It's all delicious, just go and try it already!

Check out Cafe Umami:


2224 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, California 94706