Oori’s fills the void with rice

OoriBecause I’m mostly going in order from east to west in my quest to lunch all the way down Solano Avenue, I have occasionally missed my opportunity to have a meal at a place before it goes out of business. This was the sad truth for Sophia Café, which I don’t believe was even around for very long.

Now the little spot just west of the BART tracks is a new place called Oori, though it took me a while to actually distinguish whether the first letter was indeed an “O,” looking as it did like an open swoosh. (See photo.) The young employee behind the cash register couldn’t tell me where the name came from but did confirm that it was Oori.

We arrived just after a swell of Albany High kids descended upon the tiny eatery, which gave us plenty of time to figure out ahead of time what we wanted to try. The menu is simple but provides for lots of combinations. The main attraction is a dish called a rice triangle, which is seaweed folded into a roundish triangle, stuffed with rice and a little bit of meat or tofu.  An order of three of these food modules comes with what are referred to as “sides” of edamame and kim chee, though Dave’s five edamame and tablespoon of kim chee was really more decorative than filling. Dave and George ordered combinations that included shrimp, spicy BBQ pork, and chicken. George said that the BBQ pork was not actually spicy, but he ate it happily. I am not a seaweed eater, so I got the chicken and rice platter, which was more expensive but had a better meat to rice ratio and included nine edamame and a more substantial helping of kim chee, which was somewhat bland and surprisingly white but not bad. The rice was a bit gummy, but it was all perfectly edible.

This is Oori’s first retail outlet, but it’s been around at farmers’ markets and has a presence on UC Berkeley campus. It’s not really my kind of place, but I think someone made a smart business decision putting it within walking distance of Albany High. It’s perfect for a quick, cheap, healthy lunch and may even make the lines shorter at Gordo’s on weekdays at lunch.




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