|Ruby Red & Inviting|
There are other days when an experiment is in order. My taste buds speak to me. They say it is time to take them on an adventure. To veer off the familiar path and try something, well, different. So I will look at my list of places I can go to experience my life through eating a fine meal, and I will try to find something that I haven’t tried before. On these days a new restaurant, as opposed to merely a new dish, is often the very best of adventures. My palate craves a new flavor profile to wake it up. I answer with the unanticipated. As my mouth responds to the notion, I begin to salivate at the prospect, and the journey to discovery begins.
As it so happened, a friend of mine, the Partner’s Wife, had recently suggested I try one of her favorite restaurants, Xyclo. Xyclo is situated on Piedmont Avenue, not far from Adesso. It defines itself as serving a Modern Vietnamese Fusion, which sounded really intriguing, so at long last, I was on my way to check it out and see for myself what all the fuss was about. Chef Vy Lieou did not disappoint.
The BH and I perused the menu, and found quite a few dishes that interested us both. We began with a drink (non-alcoholic) the waitress suggested called the Raspberry Spritzer. Lovely in flavor and aspect, it was a beautiful rosy concoction, and extremely refreshing. Once we’d cleansed our palates with the fruit drink, the staff began bringing the various dishes we’d decided to try. The first was a Vietnamese Carpacchio. The BH and I had experienced Asian-style raw beef before. It is usually sliced very thin and served cured in some sort of citrus fruit juice or vinegar mixture. This version was cured only in lime juice, and flavored with fresh basil, and razor thin slices of red onion. It was absolutely delicious.
The next thing we tried was even more adventurous. Aptly titled Seven Elements the dish is a Vietnamese treat. If you have never tried a lettuce wrap before, and you think you don’t like things that come in green, you might want to check this one out. The job of lettuce in a “lettuce wrap” is to provide a cooling texture to fatty or spicy foods. This version was lighter than the fried rice mixture served in lettuce by the Laotians and contains seven toppings meant to be mingled and experienced in combinations of 2 or 3 at a time, or all together. The components in the dish were bits of lime with the rind attached, some delicately flavored dried shrimp, cashews, shredded coconut, minced jalapeno, fresh ginger, and fresh finely diced onion. There was also a light dipping sauce, that was very much in consistency like a home made plum sauce. I enjoyed the texture of the elements themselves together. I found the rind was initially a texture so unique and unfamiliar that it was almost too much, being both a little hard and yet unusually chewy. After a moment I gave myself over to the unfamiliarity and really began to enjoy it. It was a little like visiting a foreign country, where I would like to think I would let them show me how to eat their delicacies with an open mind. The flavors were light and springy and really quite inviting. The accompanying plum sauce had a creamy chunky texture to it that was also new to me, but I enjoyed it with the rest of the dish.
After experiencing the previous dish, we were ready for something a bit more familiar. We were rewarded with Fried Shrimp Roll a more traditional Asian fare featuring loads of hot, puffy shrimp, soft and sweet. The fresh shrimp was cooked perfectly, and so was succulent and delicious.
|7 ingredient magic|
All in all we found the food fresh and inviting, the staff courteous and prompt, and the atmosphere homey with nice modern touches. There were loads of families with kids, so my guess is that some of the other less adventurous dishes would appeal to youngsters. Though we didn’t indulge, they have a bar. After a nice meal, the tab was also quite reasonable.
So I say, go, check it out for yourself. Bon Appetit!
4218 Piedmont Ave
(between Entrada Ave & Glenwood Ave)
Oakland, CA 94611
Table size: adequate
Sound levels: fairly quiet
Cost: Moderately inexpensive
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