Friday, March 10, 2017

Two unexpectedly great meals

Usually, if I want to try a new place to eat, I at least look at its Yelp reviews first. But yesterday, I didn't.

I grabbed lunch with a friend, and he suggested Chai Thai Noodles in Oakland. He knows all the great places, so I assumed I'll just get a delicious yellow curry chicken, or something generic like that. I was in for a pleasant surprise.

This photo is from Yelp. Friend and I both ordered this, pork leg stew over rice. The meat was tender and had pieces of fat to add to the flavor. We washed the meal down with Lao beer.

Then, dinner. The work day ended up being much longer than anticipated and I was miles from home. A freeway shooting clogged the entire Bay Area road network. I was trapped. I texted a friend for nearby recommendations. She suggested Booniepepper Islander Grill. I was too hungry and tired to look it up online. I walked up to the register, asked what they recommended, and got this chicken kelaguen. It was only after I paid for my order at the counter that I asked, what cuisine is this? Guam/Chamorro!

This meal differed from other Pacific Islander cuisine in three ways. First, there were vegetables(!). In this case, roasted carrots and red bell peppers. Second, the portion size was much smaller. Which is a good thing. And finally, the flavors were complex. The kelaguen was unlike anything I've ever had before, both in terms of taste and texture. Principally, it's chicken with lemon juice and peppers. But it's much more than that. If you ever get an opportunity to try it, DO!

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