Our walking food tour through Oakland was quite extraordinary. We sampled an array of various treats throughout the day, enough to fill almost anyone’s appetite. While everything was fantastic to try, my favorite stop was Juhu Beach Club. The restaurant had a very laid back and modern vibe. As we took our seats in wooden booths we were offered nimbu pani. The yellow and green iced drink looked incredibly refreshing. That is when the owner and chef Preeti came over. She informed us that the drink was a cilantro lemonade with toasted cumin. On first taste, I wasn’t sure of how I felt. The drink was powerful and definitely packed with flavor. I found the cumin taste to be overwhelming and bit too much. However, I found safe refuge in the nimbu pani directly after tasting Preeti’s next adventure for us. She offered us the vada pav, a fried potato puff, pickled red onions, and a ghost pepper chutney.
Hearing the last ingredient sent chills down my back and caused my ear to perk up. We were about to try a chutney made with the once crowned ‘hottest pepper in the world’. I was surprised at my lack of nerves for the new experience. Instead I was excited to try and taste the ghost pepper and more importantly say I had tried it. I bit into the vada paves sweet and toasted bun towards the fried yellow potato below. The layers of spices were abundant. You could taste the fresh bread, the smooth potato, the sweet pickles. And then on that last layer was the chutney. To my surprise it didn’t yield this horrific burning sensation. Instead it was a very balanced taste of spice that was evened out by the large potato taste. After this bite, I took another sip of the cilantro lemonade. Here’s where I became thankful for the lemonade. With that one sip all harsh spiciness was lifted. It was a great palate cleanser that was a great companion to the spicy vada pav.
While Juhu Beach Club was my most interesting experience, my favorite item of the day was unquestionably the kouign amann. This french pastry is something I would search for (which I did earlier today when I tracked it down at an Oakland Farmer’s Market). It is buttery, salty, and everything you could ever want in a pastry. In addition, there were so many other great stops along our tour so please take a look at the photos posted below!