Amblin’ Alameda: Food for Thought

Amblin’ Alameda: Food for Thought

Morton Chalfy

Friends of ours just recently completed a long ordeal and sold their house in Oakland. Their lives had changed, they wanted to downsize, they worried about not getting enough in a depressed market to finance a move, they had to clear out and make minor repairs, stage the house and agonize through the bidding process. But, success! The market is tight, prices are up, they hit their mark and the pressure, most of it anyway, is off.

They dropped by last evening to drop off a few things and we decided to go out to eat.

“Someplace inexpensive,” said our friends. We were all dressed in various stages of grubbiness, them from doing chores around their soon-to-be-ex house and we from errands and working at our own chores.

We ran through the possibilities and both of us came up with Khanh Huong, a Chinese restaurant on Lincoln Avenue. Other friends of ours, one an ethnic Chinese, had said the food was terrific, “just like my mom’s home cooking.” So off we went.

Our friends' marriage is a mixed one - he’s male, she’s female, he’s from Minnesota and she’s ethnic Chinese from San Francisco. Both write poetry and are excellent cooks, often treating their friends to huge feasts of new dishes to the delight of the assemblage.

Khanh Huong is a small restaurant with a large and attentive staff and authentic food from a part of China that isn’t Cantonese or Mandarin but still is delicious. The atmosphere is down to Earth and so is the cooking and serving. We ordered from the special family dinner menu, three dishes for $19.99, and were happy with the results. Very happy.

After we ordered but before the food began arriving our waitress brought each of us a bowl of soup which our ethnic Chinese friend pronounced a form of health soup. A soup of carefully chosen ingredients designed to impart good health and good fortune to its eaters and a sign of respect from the hosts.

The soup was good, very good. So good that I tilted the bowl for the last drops, and so did everyone else at the table.

I couldn’t look at the other diners in the restaurant very well as my back was to most of the room, so I can’t say if others had been given the boon of special soup. I suppose they had, but at the moment it felt as if we were being treated royally and shown a particular mark of affection and that made the entire eating experience that much better.

Good friends, a celebratory mood, wonderful and different food, a special gift in the form of soup and all for less than ten dollars a head. A great evening.