One of the restaurants that the SO has found is Tanjia on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland CA. If you look at it from the outside, you probably would not even enter the building. After all, there are no neon signs to attract you. The paint on the building is chipping away and the neighborhood looks sketchy. That is why I never thought of going to this place. But the SO has tastebuds to fulfill and satisfy, so off we went.
As you enter, you are greeted by a tent that has been pitched to cover the entire room. Yup, it's a big tent. You can not see the walls or any of the dining section. It's one big tent. The chairs are little ottomans that you sit in. If you are lucky, you can sit on the benches by the wall. If you sit on the ottoman, remember to move around for the rest of the evening to get the blood circulating. Otherwise, at the end of the evening, you might be paralyzed.
The food is delectable. You eat with your hands but you can ask for forks. The meat falls off the bone. It has to since you eat with your hands. Whenever we go, we try to just order something that we have never ordered before. Actually, most of the food is served family style in one big platter. For the last dinner with my brother, we ordered the "Kingly Paradise" menu, for a minimum of three people.
We were served the hot and tasty lentil soup. Very good with the right balance of salt. And, if you dipped your bread in it, Whala!!! Dinner by itself. I almost forgot to mention that with the bread, you get a small platter of bread spreadables - eggplant, carrots, cous-cous or hummus. But the soup was followed by the filo dough with chicken. I thought that this was a dessert because of the powdered sugar that was placed on top of the baked dough. But again, it was really good with the mixture of the soft meat and the crunchy baked dough. Up next was the platter.
The platter had beef shish-kabob, seafood section with shrimp cooked in garlic, a vegetable section with carrots, a chicken, and some lamb. As the SO would say, it was GYNORMOUS.
But that was not the only highlight of the evening. There was also a bellydancing. For me, it has been hard to look at bellydancing. It is so sexual. But looking at it now, I realize that just with any other dance, it is an art form. Our bellydancer was a mid-thirtysomething Caucasian woman who danced well. In fact, the SO actually danced belly dancing with her at the end. It was hilarious. The SO wanted me to dance, but how could I? I was in the middle flanked by the brother and the SO. Hahahaha. The dancer also asked my brother to dance, but he was a little too shy about that.
One of the more difficult dances was the sword dance in which she balances a sword on top of her head and moves around. I had previously seen this dance and it was very difficult. The one that I saw had the dancer spinning. I don't even know how she did that one.
So if you are in the bay area, go to Tanjia. You will not be disappointed.
4905 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA (California) 94609-2011
Phone: (510) 653-8691