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food in the hood

Dominique Simpson

Full House Cafe, 3719 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland, CA 94619
Open Tuesday through Sunday
7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

Full House Cafe is a 10-year-old neighborhood favorite serving only breakfast and lunch.

The 24 year veteran cook, Kirk Roberts, has worked at the Full House for five years and said the corn beef hash, Cajun hash and red flannel hash are the, “number one selling items on the menu.”

Hoping to taste a variety, we ordered the red flannel hash (a mixture of beets, potatoes and sausage), a ham and cheddar omelet and a short stack of buttermilk pancakes. We thought the hash was a risky bet and as it turned out, we lost. Or at least, the flavor was lost on us. The omelet, $8.25, needed salt but was well made; the egg had a very good texture and the ham was evenly distributed within. The short stack of two buttermilk pancakes, $4.50, was typical for a diner, the pancakes weren’t too small, but they definitely weren’t the largest I’ve seen. The pancakes were tasty but too doughy for my taste; I like them light and fluffy.

The service was good even though our waiter’s attention was divided by too many tables. We were seated in about two minutes, and the two of us got a booth despite a sign on the host’s table announcing booths were reserved for parties of three or more.

The Cafe is appropriately decorated with pictures of dogs playing cards and other old playing card memorabilia and art. However, I couldn’t figure out how exactly the framed potato sacks on the walls fit in with the atmosphere.

The restaurant was mostly clean, with some dust in various crevices. The bathrooms in the back smell like air freshener and are not very appealing. The floor around the base of the toilet in the women’s room is broken and pieces of it are missing, making the bathroom look like it’s in disrepair.

The crowd in the cafe was mostly comprised of loyal customers that have frequented it for years. For Liberty Joe, a friend of a long-time patron, this was his first time eating at the Full House, and he “thoroughly enjoyed it.”

If you’re looking for pretty good food at a pretty inexpensive price, Full House is the place to take your business. Their dishes range from $4.25 to $9.25, with sides ranging from $1.25 to $3.25.
The cafe is across the street from World Ground and about a block north of Albertsons, conveniently where the Mills van now drops students off.

food in the hood

Kathy Jetnil

Hong Kong Express Cafe, 4276 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland, CA 94619
Open 7 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.

You know you have to hit up a restaurant when the manager tells its local newspaper the food is “relatively pretty good and cheap.” Especially when it’s right across the street and built with you in mind.

Hong Kong Express opened June 15 inside the Union 76 gas station on MacArthur, just outside Mills’ main gate. Manager Delong Liu says the so-called cafe is hoping to gain Mills students’ business and that the food is meant to “service both the neighborhood and the college.” It seems the college student’s dream – convenient and, at 99 cents for many items, cheap.

While “cafe” is a grandiose name for what really is a Chinese food stand within a gas station convenience store, the Hong Kong Express offers a fairly decent selection of about fifteen entrees. Some of the meat dishes are $1.39, which can add up fast when paired with the 99 cent dishes. Fortunately, the individuals working behind the counter are friendly and willing to pile on the food to justify the price. If diners wish to eat accompanied by the nauseating smell of gasoline, they can also sit down in a comfortable little booth inside the gas station.

Truly, the food is everything that can be expected from a convenience store. Each dish is quite salt-heavy, especially the broccoli beef, which has virtually no other flavor but salt. The chow mein takes its flavor from the grease it’s cooked in, while the fried rice is barely acceptable due to the saltiness. Vegetarians may enjoy the egg rolls; while also a bit sparse on flavor, they are at least meatless and delightfully crunchy. The sweet and sour pork and lemon chicken dishes are delicious, as long as eaters ignore the unidentifiable meat products and focus instead on the tangy sauces they’re soaked in. The pot stickers, while certainly not the finest delicacy, are quite adequate.

A sign over the food sings praises of “Freshly Brewed Iced Tea,” which turns out to be a bitter concoction needing heavy doses of sugar from a nifty sugar dispenser at the front of the convenience store. Much better to satisfy the salt-induced thirst produced by the food is one of the fountain soda drinks or a cold bottle of Gatorade from the refrigerator in the back. Drinks will add about another dollar and a half to the bill.

The cafe is only for very hungry students seeking a quick, affordable and convenient alternative to the Tea Shop.