5 Questions with Oakland Foodie Alex Tenette
Born in San Antonio, Texas to a Korean mother and Black military father, Oakland foodie ALEX TENETTE moved to West Oakland in 1989. His love for food stemmed all the way from eating nothing but fast food and tv dinners in his youth to experiencing cultural cuisine when hanging out or spending the night with friends which opened his whole world of understanding culture through food. You can find Alex at @alextenette.
BFiO: Whose food in Oakland do you enjoy as much as your own?
ALEX: I have way too many to name! Being such a noodle head, I'll start off with noodle soups. My favorite Chinese noodle soup spot is Thanh Ky located on E 12th. The House Special Noodle (Mi Trieu Chau) is definitely the thing to get with house made pork skins. The next, Bun Bo Hue from Pho King on E.18th. They simply have the best BBH in The Town and if you're looking for Pho, you can go right across the street to Pho Ahn Dao for some delicious bowl of Pho. Being half Korean I have to put in my favorite Korean/Chinese noodle spot Yu Yu Za Zang for some authentic Black bean noodles called jja-jang-myeon. Lastly, Vientian Cafe on Allendale for some delicious Lao style noodle soup. My favorites are the Khaosoi (a flavorful minced pork noodle soup) and Chicken Kapiak (a thick chicken noodle soup with tapioca noodle. Perfect if you're sick or cold weathers!).
I'm also a big lover of BBQ and I have to shout out Stay Gold Deli in West Oakland. Until Pit Master Matt Horne is permitted to open up his BBQ spot Horn Barbecue, Stay Gold is my go-to spot. I also love going to Rockin' Crawfish and feel they have the best flavor in the East Bay. I also, really love Mua when they're open.
BFiO: What food do you think is overrated?
ALEX: I feel like a lot of restaurant chefs overdo it with their take on fusion food to the point where the fusion of ingredients don't enhance the flavors or they over saturate popular foods. An example of overrated foods are Poke bowls, Ramen, Pho, and anything that is made with Sriracha.
BFiO: What’s missing in the Oakland food scene?
ALEX: I have been spoiled by my grandparents who are from the south (grandmother from Louisiana and grandfather from Georgia), so what I feel is greatly missing in the Oakland food scene is real authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine. You can't beat grandma's gumbo but it would be great to get something close to it in Oakland (crab and all) like they used to have in Oakland in the 90s. I also would love to see a Thai restaurant to open up in The Town that serves authentic Thai Boat noodle (pork blood mixed in the broth to add richness and thickness) rather than the pleasing demographic version we have now. Though they're closed, Zen Yai Thai in San Francisco needs to expand to Oakland for sure.
BFiO: At what local Oakland markets do you shop for ingredients/food?
ALEX: Thien Loi Hoa Supermarket located on E. 12th between Pho Ao Sen and Lucy Seafood.
BFiO: What does The New Normal look like for Oakland restaurants & food businesses in the age of COVID-19?
ALEX: Lower occupancy at indoor restaurant with safe space and separation from other diners (maybe more booth-oriented dining experience) with more focus on outdoor seating and take out options.