Top Hatters in San Leandro is an interesting Cal-Vietnamese restaurant. Garnered favorable reviews from Chronicle and EBX since it opened. It integrates Vietnamese herbs, ingredients and flavors into dishes that are a bit Californian, a bit Vietnamese and a bit everywhere.
Chopped clams with thai chili, peanuts, herbs and rice crackers. I quite enjoyed the taste of the clams, brightened up by the chopped rau ram and lime juice, but less so the texture. The clam meat texture was a bit like dry chicken breast rather than what I thought would be succulent clams.
Hand salad with herbed pepita and hemp seed dressing. Pretty interesting dish. Used the lettuce to scoop up some of the seed mixture and the pretty salty/ savory dressing. The radish provided some crunchy texture. I thought its ok.
Herbed mung mean fritters- I asked during ordering if its like falafels but were told no. But they were pretty much falafels with a slightly different taste and a little more solid/ hard texture. Tasted ok. But skip this one as you can have falafels anywhere and there are more interesting things to get here .
Lavender lemonade and watermelon lemonade
Peasant rice- rice with a little bit of pumpkin/ squash mixed in.
Solid bread from their San Leandro neighbor As Kneaded Bakery.
Overall, I thought the meal had its bright spots, though there were some misses as well. But I’d go back to try more dishes, because there aren’t too many restaurants that meld Vietnamese and Californian/ American flavors the way that they do, so give them credit for trying something totally new and interesting. This meal was also after a couple of meals at two Seattle restaurants in July that meld Vietnamese and American flavors, though the dishes were more Vietnamese incorporating American ingredients.
Dining room was contemporary. We didn’t have many stomachs that day so couldn’t sample more. Would be very interested to hear what folks like there. Has anyone eaten here?
The location used to house a hat shop.