Oakland Restaurant Challenge: Spice Island

Achievement: #4. Eat at 15 Oakland Restaurants

This afternoon, we decided to head into Oakland to do some training for the half-marathon coming up this weekend, and also to get some lunch as a bonus. We put on our running shoes and walked the three miles from our place to Atwood Street, and we popped into the Spice Island Tea House for some lunch.

Spice Island Tea House lists itself as Asian Fusion cuisine. However, unlike the craziness of our last Asian Fusion stop at AsiaSF, Spice Island is a tiny, cozy little restaurant tucked away in the busy Atwood Street business section. (For those of you who didn’t go to Pitt, Atwood Street is one of the best places to spot drunk people throwing up on weekend nights. It also has a whole line of good food places between the drunk freshmen.)

Spice Island
Despite the faded sign outside, the inside of the dining room was so charming. The chairs looked like they were all picked up from different yard sales, giving the place a homelike, comfy atmosphere. And whatever radio station they had playing when we went was awesome, featuring all of these alternative rock hits from the 1990s that I’d almost forgotten existed!

Spice Island
The walk over was super hot, so Michael ordered a beer to help cool off. And what beer did he get? Tiger beer. Wow.

Spice Island
Because it is Asian Fusion, you can get some neat combinations of food. Their sign outside lists Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thai, and you get to sample different flavors from each of these ethnicities. We started with an order of the crab meat spring rolls appetizer.

Spice Island
Imagine if someone took the stuffing of a crab rangoon, and stuck it into a spring roll. That’s what these things tasted like! The sauce that came on the side was so sweet and gooey, just the perfect mix.

Spice Island
Lunch is served up until 3pm, but you can order anything on the full menu during that time as well. Prices are a little lower on the lunch section though, so we took advantage of that for our entrees. Michael got the chicken with Thai red basil sauce, which was just slightly spicy, with tender pieces of chicken. I may have stolen a little bit of his sauce for my rice.

Spice Island
I got the Malaysian sate pork on skewers. These little pork bites came in a special marinade of peanut paste, garlic oil, sweet soy sauce, and coconut milk. The dippy sauce on the right is the peanut sauce, which was sooo yummy, but a little heavy. I felt like each time I dipped my pork or bread, I was dipping it into raw cookie dough for the peanut butter cookies we make at Christmas. Sooo good, but I did feel quite a bit guilty 🙂

Spice Island
Although we’d both been to Spice Island years ago in college, I really enjoyed our return visit for lunch. The waitress was friendly and fast with water refills (which is good, since the food was a little salty and spicy). And best of all, if you pay with cash, you get a 5% discount on your meal!

The only thing is that it’s a little easy to be overwhelmed with the menu. There are so many different options and types of food that you just want to try them all. That said, I think we will be back someday to try a few new things!

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