Tag Archives: Commis

To Die For: Kao Mun Gai at Hawker Fare

lunch chicken
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Everyone knows that when eating at In-N-Out Burger, the Double-Double Animal Style is the burger to get. It’s not on the official menu, but anyone with an Internet connection and a Google bookmark can learn that if they’re not eating a double cheeseburger smothered in grilled onions and special sauce, they’re not getting the true In-N-Out experience. Much of a restaurant’s popularity in this age of Yelp depends on fanatic Internet reviews and subsequent adoration of particular dishes just like the Animal Style burger. Sometimes these dishes actually reflect the essence of a restaurant’s identity, while other times they are simply too bold and nutty to ignore. In this column, we’ll be taking a look at many of the East Bay’s popular restaurants through the lens of a single sought-after dish. We’ll aim to learn if the food is a bunch of hype, or is is in fact “to die for.”  

Hawker Fare’s 2011 opening press was brimming with eager anticipation — the chef behind the operation, James Syhabout, had already received Michelin-level praise for his ethereal take on Californian cuisineat Commis. With his casual second restaurant, he planned to explore Thai street food with an eye towards simplicity. Indeed, the menu at Hawker Fare lists little more than sides and rice dishes — far from the elevated cuisine for which Syhabout had previously been known. While some imagined his new restaurant would be an Oakland version of David Chang’s Momofuku, Syhabout (and his trusty head chef Justin Yu) has instead embraced relatively stripped down preparations of Thai dishes. Sure, pickles, bacon lardons, and dried shrimp abound across the short menu, but these each have their place; there is no bacon for bacon’s sake. … Continue reading »

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Claremont’s Thomsen named a rising star

Chef Josh Thomsen of Meritage at the Claremont Hotel - Berkeley,
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Josh Thomsen (left), executive chef at the Claremont Hotel, has been named a rising star by online magazine StarChefs.com.

Thomsen joined the Claremont last year to oversee the transformation of its previous restaurant, Jordan’s, into the Meritage. He also oversees the Paragon Bar and Cafe. He worked at the world-renowned French Laundry in Yountville, as well as several restaurants in Las Vegas, including the Mansion at the MGM Grand Hotel and the Tao Restaurant, before coming to … Continue reading »

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