Abura Ya Oakland CA ~ Japanese Fried Chicken and sides dishes you’ll die over in the Bay Area, utterly worth seeking out and stopping for.Recently I went to San Francisco/Oakland for a foods show. The show began on a Sunday, but I arrived in town early Saturday. I wanted to take full advantage of my time in the Bay Area since my previous trip in October (2015) was for only 17 hours!
While I was in town, I stayed with my friend Jessee, a friend since 7th grade. We actually worked out the math, that was 28 years ago. Time flies and we both still look fabulous. Well, that first night I was in town, he had to work. That left his friend and current couch crasher Dylan to amuse me for the night. I shared with him my food rules while traveling and he said he had it covered since he already knew what he wanted to eat.
Abura-Ya. Japanese Fried Chicken-yes please!
He explained to me that this restaurant didn’t have a permanent home, it operated out of one location for lunch and another for dinner. He also told me the chicken was amazing and he loved the tingle.
When I inquired about the tingle, he said I’d see.
He pulled up their Facebook page to show me their menu, which consisted of a laminated set menu, but then the entire edge of the menu was filled with daily side dish specials. I spied some Brussels sprouts, but Dylan warned I shouldn’t get my hopes up too much as it changes each day but sometimes dishes do make a two-day appearance.We arrived and of course, no Brussels on the menu, much to my dismay. But that didn’t stop me from ordering more food than I could possibly consume. Turns out it makes a great midnight snack and a perfectly delicious breakfast the next morning.
I’m fairly certain I had to annoy Dylan with how long I took to order, then pretty much demanded that we couldn’t order anything the same, so I could try more options (keep in mind, I’ve now known this chap for all of 2 hours.) Anyone who dines with me, knows this, plus it just makes good common sense. But then again, I am a sharer, having no issues with the random fork wandering over onto my plate–Most of the time. I once had my bite of chocolate cake, stolen off my fork, on its way to my mouth…I sure do miss my Grandpa De La Cerda.
While at the register ordering/paying, we both saw a sign for Housemade Sake Sangria. Now I like sake. I like sangria. The fusion lent to much confusion in my mind, but being the open-minded person I am, I ordered one. Despite my mediocre writing ability and my rudimentary skills at using a thesaurus, I have no idea how to effectively convey what Sake Sangria is, but I can tell you it is delicious and if you ever see it on a menu, give it a try. Dry, yet sweet. Smooth, yet it catches on the back notes. Fruity for sure, as it has chunks of real fruit at the bottom. Finally our names were called, first Dylan, then myself about 3 minutes later. And since I hadn’t imposed on Dylan enough by this point, I refused to let him eat his own food until I photographed it. I can’t begin to tell you how awesome and much of sport this man is. He really just rolled with what I needed to do. He knew I was a food/travel writer, that I would take pictures of everything, and he’s of the generation that everyone photographs their food anyway, so he just let me do my thing with no complaint. He ordered the Sansho, which is made with Japanese Tingle Pepper…remember I mentioned the tingle? The chicken is fantastic. Great umami going on. The chicken is crispy on the outside, but the meat is succulent. You bite, chew, swallow, and then comes the tingle. Very cool sensation. I was prepared for it, but had he never mentioned it, I probably would have freaked right out. But, I can’t lie, I kinda liked the tingle.
I ordered the Aburaya BBQ, as I am a saucy gal. My dish did not disappoint either. Crispy, succulent, and then not overly slathered in sauce, but just the perfect amount of sticky sauce to help it all slide down well. I really enjoyed the heat that came on at the end. Our entrees were the easiest part of the ordering process, it was all the choices in side dishes that really held me up. We settled on 4 sides, 2 each (love my ambition but I ALWAYS fail in actual consumption of this quantity of food).
He ordered the boy choy (komatsuna), which is sautéed in garlic butter and soy. It was wonderful. Bok choy is always one of those that is hit or miss with me, and it always comes down to how it was prepared. This was cooked perfectly, soft, yet maintaining its snap appeal in the stalk (my favorite part).
I ordered the kale salad (insert all your groans and eye rolls here, I truly do love kale). The salad, while suffering from multiple personality disorder, was incredible, and outside the chicken, my favorite dish (sake not included, as that is a liquid, therefore falling into another category altogether.) The kale salad was a hybrid of a chopped salad with ranch, yet a Caesar salad with Parm. Regardless, I loved it and by loved it, I mean a couple of weeks later and I am still thinking about it. I’d love a big bowl of it with the tingle pepper chicken cut up into bite size pieces for lunch today. Dylan also ordered the Wasabi Pumpkin Salad. I confess I did not try this. Wasabi is known to tear my rearranged gastric tract to pieces and I did not want to risk illness on my first night of the trip. I cannot say anything about this dish other than Dylan loved it. It was his favorite side dish of the night.
My final side was the Abura-ya Fried Potatoes. These thinly sliced, but still in the full potato shape, little bites of heaven were truly amazing. I honesty had no idea what was on them and didn’t care enough at the time to google all the Japanese words listed in the description. I didn’t even ask the lady at the register what was on them, but I was pleased with my choice. Even now, I don’t know what was on them, but the herb and mayo combination was fantastic. This was one of the items Dylan and I ate hours after the fact and unlike other “fries” these held up and were still great.
For my first night in the Bay Area, I couldn’t have had a better meal. I appreciate Dylan putting up with my antics and sharing one of his favorite places with me.
Abura Ya Oakland CA is place you must try out the next time you are in the area. You won’t be disappointed. Hopefully some of the side dishes I mentioned here will be available, but if not, the chicken is the staple. You can check out Abura-Ya Japanese Fried Chicken on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Be sure to cross reference the time of day and the location.