Where to Eat Rare Asian Dishes in the Bay Area

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The Bay Area has just about all the delicious Asian cuisine you could ever want, but sometimes we crave something extra special. Here are our favorite exotic dishes from across the ocean that have made their way onto local menus.


Double Skin at Great China

Rarely found on Chinese restaurant menus in America, these mung bean noodles and shredded tofu skins are beautifully arrayed with vegetables, mushrooms, and cooked squid. The dish is accompanied with sauces to toss in and share as a group at the table.  //  2190 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

Image courtesy of Yelp

Rice Ball Salad at Sticky Rice Cafe

Called nam khao in Laos, rice ball salad is labor intensive. Cooked rice is seasoned with herbs, rolled into balls, deep fried, broken up, and finally added to vegetables and pork sausage (optional for vegetarians) for a crispy and tangy mixture to place on lettuce leaves. If you enjoy Thai food, it's time to give Lao cuisine a try.  //  2810 International Blvd, Oakland

Image courtesy of KQED

Natto Onigiri at Onigilly

Onigiri are small snacks made of rice and filling, wrapped in seaweed. If you're into adventurous flavors, as your server at Onigilly if they have natto available. The fermented soybeans look innocuous, but there's only one other word to describe the texture: slime. Not for the faint of heart, but highly prized by those who love it and are tired of westernized sushi.  //  343 Kearny St, San Francisco

Image courtesy of Tripadvisor

Rijsttafel at Borobudur

Rijsttafel is actually a Dutch word, used to describe a presentation of small dishes in a meal. If you've never tried Indonesian food before, this is a good way to start. Sample the flavor compounds in rich curries, fried vegetables, and spiced meats that are unique to Indonesia, but with the emphasis on varied Asian textures.  //  700 Post St, San Francisco


Image courtesy of Flavor Boulevard

Jackfruit Custard at Battambang

Jackfruit is a popular and intimidating-looking South Asian fruit sometimes confused with durian. In Cambodian jackfruit custard (amuk knor), the mango-like fruit is folded into coconut milk pudding and steamed in banana leaves for a delicate and fragrant dessert that satisfies without weighing you down.  //  850 Broadway St, Oakland

Image courtesy of Yelp

Namprik Long Rua at Kin Khao

Namprik is ubiquitous in Thailand but rarely heard of here. You can find it at Kin Khao, where the spicy fermented shrimp paste is served in a jar atop marinated pork, in a bowl full of gorgeous fruits and vegetables. Lovers of earthy, funky condiments will feel right at home, though a side of rice is also recommended. Share it as an appetizer or hog it for yourself.  //  55 Cyril Magnin, San Francisco

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