Chan’s Kitchen Oakland - a few months ago had a quick snack of the won ton in chili oil for $6 or $7 plus tax and tip. Juicy, not doughy and major heat from the peppercorns. It was much busier at lunchtime with a crowd that looked like it came from nearby office buildings and was larger than I can remember there having been at anytime at Shanghai Restaurant in that spot in the 25 years or so I had been passing by.
Haven’t tried Baby Cafe but Luke Tsai had a minor love affair with it and wrote about it twice in late 2016 while he was still at the East Bay Express.
Luke on their “rice cube:”
Chief among these is the cafe’s signature “rice cube” — a bowl’s worth of rice molded into the shape of a hollow box, scorched until all of the exposed surfaces have turned crispy and golden-brown, and then topped with chicken curry ($12.95) or beef stew ($13.95). The thing was somewhat awkward to eat, especially with the addition of a lettuce leaf that helped the structure maintain its sog-free integrity but felt superfluous unless you are a person who likes to mix salad into your beef stew. But the crispy rice alone was worth the price of admission — like the gloriously toasty crust that forms on the bottom of a stone-bowl bibimbap .
Luke on their “tea time” menu:
But the rice rolls with beef stew, which will only set you back $4.50 during tea time, were low-key amazing. A substantial portion of it consisted of the soft, gelatinous tendon (the best part of any beef stew worth its salt), and the mini rice rolls soaked up some of the sauce, like chewy, tube-shaped noodles. The rest of the menu is just as appealing: Fried shishamo (aka smelt) for $2.50? Hong Kong-style milk tea for $2? Yes, please, and thank you. (L.T.)