When Dripline Cafe opened a year ago in West Oakland, the menu featured a blend of Southeast Asian flavors with Southern comfort food like chicken and waffles.
But in the last few months, Dripline chef Nora Dunning has been slowly adding what she calls that “funk,” or distinctive flavors of Singapore where she grew up. Recently Dripline started dinner service on Thursdays and Fridays (Saturdays are coming soon), and the highlight is the nasi dadang plate.
I recently had the chance to try this party platter, which is a combination of seven items. Dunning says this type of platter dining is common in Singapore, but the dishes featured on her nasi padang is not common at all. Several of them are dishes often served at wedding banquets. (The plate, at $45, is enough food to serve two or three people.)
Here are the dishes in Dripline’s nasi padang:
- Telur bergedel dan serunding: Dunning created this unique item based off of a traditional dish of deep-fried purple potatoes. This isn’t often rolled up into a ball and fried, and call it a day. But Dunning decided to insert a six-minute soft boiled egg in the center, creating this crispy fried ball with a surprising oozy yolk inside.
- Rendang sapi: This beef dish is slow braised for almost six hours and is spiced with ginger, galangal, turmeric, coriander, fennel and chilies.
- Sambal udang and fried anchovies: Grilled shrimp tossed in the house sambal sauce and mixed with fried anchovies.
- Ayam goren: This is a familiar item for Dripline regulars. It’s the poached chicken thighs that are featured during the day in the Singapore chicken rice. The tender chicken thighs are flash-fried for a crispy skin.
- Yau choy belachan: To balance the platter, you have to have your greens. Here Dunning cooks up some yau choy (Asian greens) in the sambal sauce with shrimp paste.
- Acar: Almost relegated as a condiment, this pickled pineapples and cucumber side adds the right tartness to help cut into the richness of the rest of the dish. The brightness of the pineapples gives it a refreshing taste.
- Nasi lemak kerabu: The center of the platter is this beautiful blue jasmine rice infused with coconut milk and pandan leaves. The light blue color comes naturally from butterfly pea flowers, a common trick in Southeast Asia to create this special rice.
Chef Dunning says when she creates her dishes and makes them at Dripline, she wants customers to feel like they’re eating at her house. With a special plate like the nasi padang platter, Dunning’s house sure must be comforting and fancy all at once.
Deets: Dripline, 1940 Union St., Oakland. PH: 510.922.8270. Open Tuesday through Friday for breakfast and lunch, and weekends for brunch. Dinner on Thursday and Friday till 9:30 p.m. driplineoakland.com
NOTE: Dripline marks its one-year anniversary on Wednesday, February 14. If you drop in between 8 and 11 a.m., there will be giveaways and coffee from its new vendor.
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