Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Where to Eat: Celebrating Oakland Restaurant Week @ Bird & Buffalo

The Eats: Casual Thai cuisine including favorites like Grilled Spicy Lao Pork Sausage, Larb, Papaya Salad and Mango & Sticky Rice

The Location: Temescal (Oakland)

The Vibes: Down-to-earth, casual

Good for: Alone, dates, groups (small and large), the kiddies

When-To-Go: C
losed Mondays; Tuesday – Sunday, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. // 5 – 10 p.m.

The $$ Factor: Snacks, $7.95; Entrees, $8.95 - $14.95; Sides, $2.50 - $4.95

The 4-1-1: No hard liquor, but wine and beers are available, along with specialty coffees, teas and even whole coconuts

Parking Situation: Street parking and a small adjacent parking lot

I’ll Be Back…: For the Mango & Sticky Rice!

As a huge fan of Los Angeles’ own dineL.A. Restaurant Week, I was excited to find out that The Town has its very own restaurant week, too. Duly named Oakland Restaurant Week, it recently commemorated a 10-year anniversary and held annual festivities over the course of 12 days earlier this month. Participating places offer pre-fixe menus at set prices and there was also a handful of events, including a chef dinner series, a scavenger hunt and more.

While more than 100 restaurants participated, I only had a chance to visit one this time around: Bird & Buffalo. Located on the bustling Telegraph Ave. in Temescal, this no-frills but homely eatery specializes in “rustic” Thai food. That includes grilled meats, larbs (a.k.a. meat salads), bowls and snacks like skewers and veggie rolls.

Specifically for Oakland Restaurant Week, Bird & Buffalo featured a $20 three-course “Thai Soul Food Tray.” Guests had the option to pick and choose items from three categories: Snack, Salad and Grill. The presentation of the entire dinner was super cute — with everything literally all on a tray.

From the four Snack options — fried mushrooms, garlic green beans, spicy Lao pork sausage and grilled chicken hearts — I opted for the green beans. They were well cooked and quite flavorful.

There were two Salad choices — larb with tofu and oyster mushrooms, or a green papaya salad, served either Thai or Lao style. I got the Thai salad while my friend got the Lao salad, which is similar to the Thai style, but with additional salted crab & fish paste. I thoroughly enjoyed my salad, which had a delightfully sweet and tangy zest to it, but we both agreed the Lao, which was more on the savory side, wasn’t our favorite for the night.

Finally, you could choose either grilled ½ gai yang BBQ chicken, pork ribs or lamb chops. I selected the BBQ chicken, and I was surprised at how much food it was. It came with wings, legs, thighs, breast and a few other pieces. The chicken itself was rather plump and juicy, with the skin perfectly charred on the outside.

Although it wasn’t an Oakland Restaurant Week option, ordering the Mango & Sticky Rice (pictured below) was an absolute must, and I’m so glad I did. Sweet slices of ripe mango sat on top of piping hot white rice oozing with coconut milk. I was tempted to order another one to go. 

And while it’s “casual,” that doesn’t mean the restaurant has skimped out on charm or character. The narrow, one-room eatery is packed to the brim with eclectic potted plants and nostalgic Thai knick-knacks and style, including vintage movies posters, hot sauces and canned foods. It feels so down-to-earth and inviting! 

Fortunately, you can visit Bird & Buffalo any time and not just for Oakland Restaurant Week.

So the next time you’re in the mood for tasty Thai food in a laid-back setting, I recommend heading here.

See you there soon!

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