[Food] The Chairman Truck

On a whim, I stopped by Off the Grid, a Bay Area food truck meetup, in Berkeley. I had heard great things about The Chairman truck and it was at tonight's event. You can't miss it; it's big, bright red, and has a long line of hungry people. The line was long relative to the other trucks, but nowhere near what the lines were like when the Kogi Truck first opened up in LA. I remember waiting at least 2 hours for a few tacos, but that's beside the point.

The Chairman features baos, which are basically Chinese sandwiches on steamed or baked buns. They were out of baked buns, but that was not a problem because I love steamed buns. I was going get straight pork belly, but for the sake of journalism, I also ordered a Coca Cola braised pork bao.

I tried the Coca Cola braised pork bao first. This bao was packed with goodness - braised pork, a cabbage slaw, mustard seeds, and sauce. The pork was moist and tender. The Coca Cola they braise it in definitely lends great flavor to the pork. You get the great savory elements of Coke, but without the sweetness. Everything else in this bao complements the pork nicely and the mustard seeds really brighten everything up. It was good, but quite frankly, after eating the pork belly bao, I don't remember too much about this one.

This bao lived up to the hype. Dare I say, the pork belly was succulently sexy. Not only was it tender as the name says, it had a bit of a crunch from getting finished on the flat top. There was just enough fat left, post-rendering, to give great flavor and juice. Maybe my mind was over exaggerating the greatness of the pork from sensory overload, but this was one of the best pork bellies I've ever had. Everything was perfect from the textures to the flavors, and I was happy. The pickled daikon cut through the fattiness of the pork and acted as a breath of fresh air, not that the pork belly was bad in any way.

Everyone has to eat a pork belly bao from The Chairman. Preferably more.

The Chairman www.twitter.com/chairmantruck (415) 813-8800

[Photo] Autumn Leaves and Good Food

In the midst of my busy week, I decided to take a short break and take some photos outside. I walked around for maybe ten minutes and got a few photos of the Autumn leaves and a nice little cafe around town. It was a very relaxing few minutes in which I got away from my studies and such. I hope you enjoy these photos, I know I enjoyed making them.

Here's my attempt at doing a faux Instagram effect in Lightroom. I'd say it looks pretty hip.

[Food] Bongo Burger

I made a visit to Bongo Burger on Northside with some floor mates the other day. I heard good things about this little chain, so I looked forward to it. Looking at the menu, I was a bit confused. Burgers and Persian fusion?

I got past the odd mix of cultures and got a bacon burger and fries.

Here's a close up shot on the burger. Sexy, eh?

As I sunk my teeth into the first bite, I immediately noticed how crunchy the sesame seed bun was. The bun itself was alright, a bit too crunchy for my personal taste. I couldn't taste the flavor of the patty through all of the other flavors, but once I got a bite of the patty by itself, I was pleasantly surprised, mainly because I couldn't taste it before. The patty had a nice, charred flavor to it. I couldn't taste the bacon until I got half-way through the burger. Once I hit the bacon, it was a flavor explosion. Bacony goodness. Bacon makes everything better. Overall, the burger was just above average. I wish the flavor of the meat cut through more; it was too muted. The bacon is what saved the burger for me.

The fries aren't that great. They are of the flavorless, crinkle cut variety. I do give them this, they are crispy. The ranch really brings them to life. The ranch sauce here is reminiscent of George's back at home in Fullerton. Thin, not thick and laced with crack. Not your typical ranch. Perfect.

They proudly (and obviously) serve Niman Ranch beef.

The Persian Burger seems to be rather popular here. It's made with lamb and is served on a long, baguette style bread rather than a bun. Perhaps I will try that next time. The burger and fries (surprisingly) filled me up, but the price seemed a bit steep for what it was. The total for the burger and fries came out to be about $8, which in my opinion is a tad bit too much for a fast food style burger. But then again, my standard is a #1 at In-n-Out.

There are two other locations around the UC Berkeley campus.

Bongo Burger
1839 Euclid Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 548-3400

Mon-Fri: 8am - 10pm
Sat-Sun: 8:30am - 10pm

[Food] Bette's Oceanview Diner

Last week a few of my suite mates wanted to grab breakfast, so we headed over to Bette's Oceanview Diner. Like most places here in Berkeley, it was a small place. We waited for 45 minutes or so before we were seated. The host was a rather interesting character, I'm not going to say much more about him. The place had a very nice classic diner feel to it with counter seats and booths. Don't expect to take a big party here, unless you want to sit outside; the booths will seat 4 people. There's also a giant slice of pie hanging of the ceiling. Awesome. Onto the food. Note: I sadly didn't have my camera with me (great forward thinking, Edwin!) so these photos were taken on my friend's phone. Sorry for the image quality, hopefully this won't happen again.

Roommate #1 got the two eggs with ham, toast, and homefries.

Roommate #2 got the Philadelphia Breakfast, which was scrapple, poached eggs, grilled tomatoes, and a scone.

We were seated around 11, so got to choose from either the breakfast or lunch menu. The suite mate got a sandwich (sorry, I can't remember which one he got) with potato salad.

I was obligated to get the Mexican Scramble because of my Southern Californian roots...and it came with house made chorizo. The Mexican Scramble was scrambled eggs with cheese and salsa, chorizo, flour tortilla, and I substituted some homefries for the black beans. The eggs were nice, fluffy, and a bit runny, which is perfect. Who eats fully cooked scrambled eggs anyway? The chorizo was well seasoned, but it was not greasy enough. Chorizo has to be swimming in a pool of orange nectar; the whole plate should have been orange. But it was still very good. You health nuts would probably prefer this breed of chorizo over the pure bred Mexican variety. The flour tortilla was nothing special, definitely a good receptacle for delivering the contents of my plate to my mouth. Finally, those homefries were pretty magical. Cooked just right, soft on the inside with an ever so slight crust on the outside, then topped with cold sour cream. Wizzow! They must have been sprinkled with crack.

Bette's is a great, cute breakfast place. If you are ever in the area, you should definitely check it out. Prices are a bit high for college students, but it's worth at least one visit. Oh, and be prepared to wait for a seat. During your wait, you could walk around the area, which is very nice and is full of furniture stores if you are into that kind of thing.

Bette's Oceanview Diner
1807 4th St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 644-3230

Mon-Fri: 6:30am - 2:30pm
Sat-Sun: 6:30am - 4:00pm