Thursday, July 17, 2008

West End

The West End of Alameda was notorious for bars serving drinks to the Navy and civilians when Alameda Point was in operation. Now that the Navy yard is decommissioned, a renaissance of new restaurants has emerged on Webster Street.

The New Zealander Restaurant is most known for their meat pies. They are tasty in flavor and with a flaky crust. I just wished the pies were slightly larger or that the crust was thinner. The volume of filling never seemed to be enough inside the crust. I always came out of the restaurant feeling hungry after eating one pie. The staff are consistently friendly and it is a great place to get a beer. The complimentary garlic fries are also delicious at happy hour. The restaurant definitely has a great historical space with an outdoor patio area. This place is a casual, clean hang out for the locals.

Yokohama is a traditional Japanese sushi and food establishment. The sushi is always fresh, but their menu is limited. There is no fancy sushi or rolls here. The flavor of the teriyaki is good and predictable as one would buy from a grocery store in the ethnic aisle. However, the salmon teriyaki always comes out over cooked. The Japanese interiors are peaceful and calming. The fish tank is a nice touch once you enter the front door. If you are looking for consistently decent and traditional Japanese food, this is the place to eat.

Tillie's is great diner food. There is nothing elegant or fancy about this place. It looks like a real 1950s diner because it is a real American diner. Breakfasts are large portioned and tasty. The best item for breakfast if you are really hungry is the Steak Bits. You get a lot of food and the steak is tender and full of flavor. The menu for lunch and dinner are basically the same with the exception of the daily specials. The hamburgers, patty melts and omelettes are always delicious. If you are looking to eat casual, diner food with the family or by yourself, this place is recommended.

Otaez has wonderful Mexican decorum inside and out. There is an inviting waterfall by the front door and great statues once you enter the space. The menu is vast with a lot of options. A great appetizer is the empanada. The restaurant prepares three different types. The dough is thin and flaky and the inside is hot and yummy with meat or fish and vegetables. At times, the chips that come to the table can taste slightly oily. The salsas are always fresh with a mild and medium heat varieties. The lightest fare on the menu are the fish dishes. The fish are quickly deep fried. The fish are fresh and you can taste it. The other foods like the hard shelled tacos, chile rellenos and enchiladas can be at times a little heavy along with the beans and rice and one may experience a bloated feeling afterwards. This restaurant is a great establishment for a fun, family atmosphere. Also good for large sized groups.

Nation's Giant Hamburgers are messy, juicy and big in flavor and portion size. These hamburgers are more of a gourmet burger compared to Tillie's down the street as well as other fast food chains in the area. The best burger is the Ole Hamburger since the special ingredient is a pepper. The pepper is not hot or spicy, but gives an interesting texture and added dimension to the taste. The milk shakes are also good here since they use real ice cream. The fruit pies are simple and refreshing during the summer months. The pudding pies can be a bit dull to the taste buds with the layer of whipped cream on top. Nation's is a great spot for a big burger for lunch or a late afternoon meal.

Hong Kong East Ocean Restaurant is great for dim sum. The dim sum menus are easy to read and you select which items you want. The ladies who drive the carts around the room may not speak English clearly, but they are eager to show you what they are serving. The crepes, dumplings, fried fish, stuffed tofu and eggplant are always good dishes. The sticky rice, chicken feet and the fried sesame balls are an acquired taste. The restaurant recently remodeled the interiors, so the room looks fresh with an Asian flare of golden dragons and red velvet walls. The restaurant can accommodate parties of any size.

Chef's Wok is a Chinese restaurant that is close in proximity to Hong Kong East Ocean. They also serve dim sum during lunch and is probably in direct competition with them. The menu is long and varied. There are so many selections that at times it is overwhelming on what to choose. In order to get a wide selection of food, I have ordered their Fixed Dinner Plans. The food lacked flavor at times and appeared the chefs prepared the food to appease non-Asian palates. The portions were huge and that is where the savings come in. One could eat the leftovers in two additional meals. If you looking for predictable Chinese food with large portions than this restaurant is the place to eat at.

AcquaCotta is the new restaurant in the neighborhood. The owner is the only chef on the block with pedigree training who has worked at famous and popular bay area restaurants. The space is somewhat dark with caramel and rustic color schemes. Salads were typical and predictable in flavor profiles. The pasta dishes were delicious and bold in flavors. The pasta was surprisingly a dry pasta and not made fresh on the premises. My only comment about this restaurant is the cost of the wine. The first time I had a meal here, the alcohol amount was more than the food cost. The restaurant is still working on improving the dessert menu and in the future wants to produce fresh pasta in the kitchen. I highly recommend coming here for a rustic Italian dinner. We just have to wait until they hire a dessert chef. You may want to call ahead and ask if you are allowed to bring your own bottle of wine.

Pier 29 is where all the East Bay Senior Citizens come out for an Early Bird Special. The prices are very reasonable during the Early Bird Special duration and the portions are good sized. The restaurant is known for its seafood dishes. The clam chowder soup is good and thick. The best dishes of the house are grilled or pan fried fish plates. The fish and chips are a disappointment. The stews are not appetizing and the beef dishes are also not favored. The vegetables are always plain and simply boiled in water with some butter. This is the only restaurant in Alameda that has water views in the front and back of the building. The service is always friendly. I would recommend this restaurant only for the Early Bird Specials.


Anonymous said...

My husband and I were walking along Webster Street one day and wanted to eat dim sum. Chef's Wok and Hong Kong East Ocean were both packed with a long waiting line. So then we decided to eat at Kapok. The restaurant had a new owner and so we decided to try it out. For some reason, we thought they too would be serving dim sum, but they did not. They had a lunch and an ala carte menu. To my amazement, we ordered three dishes and the volume of the food was enormous. There was enough food for six people. The food was fine and it was good, casual Chinese food. Another plus to this meal was that is was half the price of Hong Kong East Ocean and Chef's Wok, so that was a bonus. The next time we will try the fresh seafood since they have water tanks inside the space. I would recommend this restaurant just because it is a good change from the other two Chinese restauarants on Webster Street.

Anonymous said...

Tillie's is closed. The signage on the door of the restaurant does not state when they will re-open. That is such a bummer since it is a popular spot on the weekends and on sunny days.