As the weather continues to get colder, many of us are trying to find the best ways to keep warm; some are digging through closets for big coats, while others may just be relying on hot drinks from Starbucks or Au Bon Pain. Something else that can definitely help deal with the weather is finding a nice place that serves hot food, perfect for the cold. A place that does just that is Hunan Bar in Oakland.
Hunan Bar is a small restaurant located on Atwood St. that serves Chinese cuisine. The menu offers a variety of foods, from hotpot to steamed frog, and their many soup dishes are especially great for really cold weather. Just recently, a few of my friends and I decided to have dinner there.
When we first went into the restaurant, there were a good number of college students at the tables, sharing hotpots and eating large portions of delicious looking meals. The setup of the restaurant was very simple, but the vibe that was given off was quite relaxing; it’s a good spot for casual meet-ups with friends and having a few laughs over good food.
This was my second time eating at Hunan Bar; my first time there was pretty enjoyable, however I (as well as my friends) wanted to try different dishes this time. The restaurant is known for their spicy food, so my friends decided to order a lamb hotpot, deep fried pork intestines, and braised pork belly for the table, all at the mild spice level. I don’t usually eat spicy foods, and the first time I went to Hunan Bar I didn’t get anything particularly spicy. Since we were only ordering dishes with the mild level of spice, there wasn’t much for me to worry about.
It didn’t take very long for our food to arrive, maybe about ten to fifteen minutes. The food was presented well in large glass bowls, and everything was piping hot. My friends and I took our first bites of the lamb hotpot, and we all thought it tasted great. The dish contained a combination of ingredients: cabbage, lotus, potatoes, glass noodles, and lamb. As my friends began to try the other dishes, I went in for my second bite of the hotpot and suddenly I felt this burning sensation on my tongue. It turned out, the hotpot was a lot spicier than I thought. Interestingly, some bites I took were spicier than others. What was unfortunate was that I never knew which bite would be spicy, so it was always a surprise for me. My friends found this very amusing, especially as my face turned redder after every bite.
Eating the pork intestines and braised pork was no different of an experience for me. Those dishes were probably spicier than the hotpot, since they contained many peppers and other spiced vegetables. The conflict I was facing was that even though the dishes were spicy, they were all so delicious at the same time. I went through many glasses of water that night, and the waiters were probably just as entertained as my friends. However, the experience was all worth it.
Hunan Bar has a lot of great food, and the high spice levels of some of the dishes can definitely help you deal with the cold. If you really like spicy food, be sure to try a meal at Hunan Bar. If you’re not that big a fan of spicy foods there are many other options on the menu, just be sure to choose wisely when you order.