23 Under-the-Radar, Authentically Delicious Asian Restaurants in the Bay Area
(Dan Tom)

23 Under-the-Radar, Authentically Delicious Asian Restaurants in the Bay Area

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One of the most intimate ways to experience a culture is through its cuisine. Food is the heart of it all—the history of the spices, the tradition and customs behind the dishes, and the personal stories that flavor each chef's interpretation.

Here in the Bay Area, we have a rich Asian heritage which means a profusion of delicious and authentic Asian eats, from numbing mala peppercorn in spicy Szechuan dishes to savory yogurt- and chutney-topped chaat.


"The AAPI community here is blossoming with young farmers, artists, advocates, and multifaceted food concepts," says Mister Jiu's Michelin-starred chef Brandon Jew, whose interest in the past, present, and future of Chinese American food drives him as a chef and cultural storyteller.

"It is inspiring to look at the perseverance that previous generations endured and revitalizes our spirits even when faced with the hatred and violence we still face today," he says. "There is still a lot of important work to be done towards true equality, but it has given my cooking even more purpose.”

We've put together a list of some of the Bay Area's tastiest but lesser known Asian restaurants; no fine dining, just glorious, authentic deliciousness. What better way to support a community than by breaking its bread together?

A trio of fluffy buns with durian, black sesame, and ube from Pineapple King Bakery. (@allie.eats)

Pineapple King Bakery

If you’re walking down Irving Street near 19th Avenue, chances are you’ll catch wafts of fresh buns being baked at Pineapple King Bakery. Pineapple buns don’t actually contain any fruit—they’re named for the golden and buttery topping that adorns each bun. But if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try one of their flavor variations like guava butter, durian, or salted egg. // 1915 Irving St (Inner Sunset), pineapplekingbakery.com

Old Mandarin Islamic

Old Mandarin Islamic keeps it in the family—for over 22 years, they’ve provided the Outer Sunset with Chinese halal food using the freshest ingredients. The cozy establishment is known for its hot pot, but the lamb dumplings are outstanding as well. // 3132 Vicente St (Outer Sunset), oldmandarin.com

Mamahuhu

If you’ve ever wanted to check out a fast-casual dining experience from a Michelin-starred chef, here’s your chance. Brandon Jiu, owner of Mister Jiu’s, wanted to embrace the Chinese-American classics he enjoys eating, like sweet and sour chicken, while elevating them with high-quality ingredients and traditional Chinese cooking methods. Be sure to try the signature mapo tofu and beef and broccoli. // 517 Clement St. (Inner Richmond), eatmamahuhu.com

Manna

Opened by Moon Young Yun and her husband, the original owners of First Korean Mart on Geary, Manna brings homey Korean cuisine to edge of Golden Gate Park. Regulars rave about the dol-sot bibimbap, a rice and vegetable dish that’s served in a piping hot stone bowl. // 845 Irving St (Inner Sunset), mannasanfrancisco.com

At Manna, Yukgaejang is a traditional homemade stew with shredded beef, egg, scallions, and bean sprouts in a semi spicy broth. (@dantom)

Chong Qing Xiao Mian

For spicy, Szechuan-style noodle soups, stop by Chong Qing Xiao Mian. Brothy soups make up the bulk of their menu, each complete with springy noodles and zinging sauces. Tan tan noodles are the most popular dish, but they also offer other Szechuan classics like beef tendon and chili oil wontons. // 915 Kearny St (Chinatown), chongqingxiaomian-sf.com

Lucky Three Seven

A beloved Filipino joint, Lucky Three Seven is a crowd favorite for more than just its G-fire chicken wings and crispy lumpia. Co-owners and cousins Jun Anobo and Mark Legaspi were known for sharing their passion for Filipino cuisine not just through their restaurant, but by holding block parties and food drives for their community. Tragically, Anobo was recently killed by gunfire, but the restaurant team is determined to keep his legacy alive by serving customers and continuing their community-driven mission. You may donate to support Anobo's young son at GoFundMe. // 2868 Fruitvale Ave (Oakland), instagram.com/luckythreeseven

Da Nang Quan

Itching to explore more Vietnamese cuisine? Check out Da Nang Quan, which shines a spotlight on central Vietnamese dishes like bun bo hue, banh beo, and banh xeo. Be sure to bring a friend or two along to get the most out of the family dining experience. // 615 E 12th St (Oakland), yelp.com/biz/da-nang-quan-oakland-4

Shangri-La Vegan

If you’re the type of person who has the hardest time deciding what you want to eat, stop by Shangri-La. With just one meal that changes daily, so there’s no decision-making involved. Plus, you know that whatever macrobiotic scrumptiousness they’re serving up is always fresh as can be. // 4001 Linden St. (Oakland), shangri-lavegan.com

#13: meatball with egg from Banh Mi Ba Le.(@nantuck3t)

Banh Mi Ba Le

Few food items are worth standing in a line around the block, but no sandwich can top Banh Mi Ba Le's meatball-and-egg banh mi, which features a runny egg yolk on a perfectly crisp and airy baguette. Plus, it's just $6. // 1909 International Blvd (Oakland), banh-mi-ba-le.cafe-inspector.com

Tay Ho

A family affair, Tay Ho in Oakland is a celebration of Vietnamese culture. Owner Denise Huynh drew inspiration for the menu from the dishes she ate regularly in Mekong Delta, along with input from her grandma and mom—who also happens to be the head chef. Also of note is their delicious and unique assortment of signature cocktails and beer that's constantly being updated. // 344 12th St. (Oakland), tayhooakland.com

Champa Garden

The Champa Garden team specializes in Thai cuisine. Be prepared to indulge in their sampler platter which includes fried spring rolls, nam kaow, and Lao sausages when you stop by their cozy spot. // 2102 8th Ave. (Oakland), champagardenoakland.com

Phnom Penh House

For nearly four decades, Phnom Penh House has been sharing its love for Cambodian food with Oakland and has become a neighborhood staple—longtime regulars say the quality of the food is still as good as it was back in the day 1980s. Standouts on the menu include traop ang, a dish with roasted eggplant and pork, as well as their Singapore noodles. // 3912 MacArthur Blvd. (Oakland) and 1514 Webster St. (Alameda), phnompenhhouse.com

Daughter Thai

The mission of Daughter Thai is simple: to introduce more spice into people’s lives. The Southern Thai–inspired menu accomplishes just that with innovative dishes that are rich, flamboyant, and zesty. While the food may be spicy, the atmosphere is sweet (truly Instagram-friendly), making it the perfect stop for a fun meal with friends or with a date. // 6118 Medau Pl (Oakland), daughterthai.com

Garlic chongqing street noodle with beef and sautéed string beans from Huangcheng Noodle House pair perfectly with a cold beer. (@shotbysalt)

Huangcheng Noodle House

After a devastating fire destroyed Huangcheng Noodle House in September 2020, owner Jimmy Huang got to work and re-opened his restaurant in just four months, thanks in large part to donations and support from his community. It goes to prove the deliciousness and popularity of his hand-cut shanxi noodles and Szechuan-style dishes. // 911 Washington St (Oakland), huangchengnoodleca.com

Spices 3

If you’ve ever dreamed of being a guest on Hot Ones, Spices 3 is right up your alley. The restaurant is known for tongue-numbing dishes that feature the mala peppercorn, a key ingredient of Szechuan cuisine, and for their Taiwanese-style stinky tofu. Also on the menu is an entire section of mixed juices inspired by astrology, in case you want a palette cleanser that matches your zodiac sign. // 370 12th St (Oakland), www.spices3-oakland.com

Thanh Ky

With dishes based around egg-, wonton-, and rice noodles, this Chinese-Vietnamese eatery is basically everything that a nood connoisseur could hope for. Fan favorites include the flavorful house special ho fun with bouncy noodles and seafood toppings, and the Singaporean stir-fry noodles if you’re in the mood for something less soup-y. // 659 E 12th St (Oakland), yelp.com/biz/thanh-ky-restaurant-oakland

Viks Chaat

Inspired by childhood memories and trips back to India, Viks Chaat, is all about, well, chaat—a popular Indian street food that means “to lick” in Hindi because people can’t resist licking up every last morsel. While these savory snacks are the main focus of the establishment, it’s not the only thing worth exploring on the menu. Their bhatura cholle, or big puffy bread served with sauces, has been essential to the area since the restaurant first opened in 1989. // 2390 Fourth St (Berkeley), vikschaat.com

Nomad Tibetan Restaurant

Tucked away from the bustle of Berkeley, Nomad Tibetan Restaurant is a welcome respite with woodsy decor and art from a locally based Tibetan artist. Jamyang Gyalkha and Tsering Lhatso, the husband-and-wife duo at the helm, are known for creating a warm environment for guests to enjoy some of the best momos in the Bay. You should also be sure to get a side of ting-mo to complement your meal, which is perfect for scooping up the scrumptious broths and curries. // 1593 Solano Ave (Berkeley), nomadtibetan.com

Cafe Tibet

Cafe Tibet’s claim to fame: This was the the first Tibetan restaurant to open in Berkeley, way back in 1999. Chef Samten Choedon wanted to introduce Tibetan food and culture to the Bay, making everything from delectable dumplings to tasty sauces from scratch. No wonder the place remains a Berkeley mainstay. // 2020 University Ave (Berkeley), cafetibetberkeley.com

Delhi Diner

Be prepared to explore the richness and diversity of Indian cuisine. Krishna and Subhash Arora, the husband and wife team behind the establishment, use their menu to share a unique blend of dishes from all parts of India while incorporating elements from the culinary scene in Delhi. If you’re into classic Indian meals with bold flavors, this is the place for you. // 2400 Telegraph Ave (Berkeley) and 1373 Solano Avenue (Albany), delhidiner.net

Wonderful

Even if you haven’t stopped by this Hunan eatery yet, you may still be familiar with them. Back in 2015, Wonderful went viral for defending themselves against a one-star Yelp review, and their food deserves as much of a spotlight as their sense of humor. Go for chewy noodles, tangy sauces, and fluffy green onion pancakes—you’ll be wondering why you haven’t visited sooner. // 270 Broadway (Millbrae), yelp.com/biz/wonderful-millbrae-2

Haidilao Hot Pot

While it’s a bit of a trek, Haidilao’s hot pot experience is completely worth the drive to Fremont. Diners rave about the tomato soup base, but they serve other options as well, including a spicy mala-based broth. Of course, they have a variety of meats, veggies, and seafood options that would appease any hot pot enthusiast. Plus, a robot server will bring you your food. // 43349 Boscell Rd (Fremont), website--59966101802347116880-restaurant.business.site

Gurih Table X Fikscue

Gurih Table is the best of both worlds—it allows you to enjoy delicious, home-cooked Indonesian food from the comfort of your own home. Wife and husband team Reka and Fik Saleh conceptualized Gurih Table after Reka lost her restaurant gig during the pandemic, leading her to pursue her passion for sharing Indonesian food. You can order a variety of classic Indonesian dishes fused with Texas-style barbecue from Fikscue, like the soto padang, a warm and hearty soup topped with smoked brisket, and then have it delivered right to your doorstep on the weekend. Be sure to keep tabs on their Instagram though—they sell out quick, and you don’t want to miss out on their flavorful meals. // beacons.page/gurih.table

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