VN, SY, and I met up in January to catch up at the start of the new year. SY brought up the idea of hitting up Oakland Restaurant Week, but VN and I shot that down. Honestly, I've never had great experiences with restaurant weeks. I've just never found it worth the hype or the moolah. I rather just go to a restaurant and order what I want, even if it's less of a "good deal."
With Oakland Restaurant Week out of the running, SY mentioned Sticky Rice Café. VN and I wholeheartedly agreed:
Located virtually in the middle of nowhere, Sticky Rice Café was small and unassuming:
It had a tricky door that took a bit of work to shut and stay shut. I know because it was super windy and rainy that night and I had to get up a couple times to make sure the door stayed closed when people went in and out. No biggie though. Just a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things.
And by grand scheme I mean the awesome food.
See exhibit A, the crispy rice ball ($8):
The description on the menu said "deep fried rice ball", but it's basically deep fried rice mixed with pork sausage and peanuts. There's cilantro, mint, and lettuce on the side for wrapping. Add a squirt of lime juice and there you have it, perfection.
The chicken larb ($8) was a salad of sorts made with ground chicken with onion, cilantro, and mint:
It came with strips of raw cabbage for wrapping. It was slightly pungent and sour and basically awesome.
The crispy salmon ($12) came covered in onion, bell pepper, and a sweet tamarind sauce:
While delicious, the sauce was a bit intense to eat without rice, but it certainly helped add some flavor to the blanched bed of veggies.
The drunken noodle ($8) or flat rice noodle with basil, bell peppers, onion, carrot, green bean, and tomatoes came with our choice of meat. We went with chicken since SY doesn't eat red meat:
Even though we were stuffed, we were still in the mood for dessert at the end of the meal and unashamedly tacked on an order of fried bananas with coconut ice cream ($6):
Freshly fried, the bananas were freakin' delicious.
My favorite of the night was the deep fried rice ball. I'm just a sucker for that kind of stuff. I loved the dish at Champa Garden and I loved it at Sticky Rice Café. Champa Garden might have a bit of an edge because of their crack sauce, but that edge is very, very slight.
All in all, I loved Sticky Rice Café. The food is bomb, the prices are beyond reasonable, and it's quiet. No lines, no pressure. Just a simple place to enjoy a long meal with friends. If only it was a bit more accessible...or had a parking lot.
Sticky Rice Café
2810 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94601