California Food Journalism and News 2020 [SF Bay Area, Los Angeles and the rest of California]

John Birdsall in - Where to Eat in 2020: Oakland



Oakland is currently one of America’s most dynamic food cities not because of the polish of its restaurants, the number of their James Beard medals, or any galaxy of Michelin stars, but because of its loyalty to cooks telling complicated stories through food: where they came from, their struggle for equity, or how we, as citizens, believe we ought to treat one another.

Birdsall: 17 Best Restaurants in Oakland


I’ve got to go down there more.

Merrill Schindler has been writing about food in the LA area for decades and decafes.


Carnival Lebanese

4356 Woodman Ave., Sherman Oaks; 818-784-3469,

Little known fact: I spent many years writing “American Top 40” for Casey Kasem. Casey was Lebanese. He was also a vegan. And so, when he took the staff out to a meal, it was to a restaurant where he felt at home. Which was, more often than not, Carnival Lebanese, where they offer an extensive collection of the greatest hits of Lebanese cooking, with many of the dishes collected into convenient combination plates.



With each of Jew’s projects, the chef says he thought about exactly what kind of Chinese restaurant he wanted to evoke or pay homage to. There is, for instance, the picture of a traditional Chinese family restaurant that many Chinese Americans might have in their mind’s eye — the big fish tank, the round tables with lazy Susans. Then there’s the prototypical quick-service dim sum deli, and the old-school Chinese-American takeout joint, with its white takeout cartons, disposable chopsticks, and soy sauce packets.

Mamahuhu aims to strike a happy medium between those two categories of Chinese dining experiences, Jew says. It’s meant, first and foremost, to be a restaurant where customers can sit and enjoy their meal — but with counter service, and a more casual vibe than the kind of place where the waiter ladles your soup out at the table. And unlike at, say, Mister Jiu’s and Moongate Lounge, Jew wants Mamahuhu to be the sort of restaurant where customers can come in just to order takeout.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold