In my continuing quest to eat as many of my favorite foods as possible that will be difficult or expensive to get in Japan, I decided to make a stop at Brown Sugar Kitchen, home of what could be Oakland’s best chicken and waffles. This particular morning, I took our car in for service and the service manager said I had 3 hours to kill and a shuttle that would take me anywhere in a 3 mile radius. The decision was made in an instant.
Brown Sugar Kitchen is located in a part of West Oakland that you could charitably say isn’t the most desirable neighborhood. Signs posted outside the restaurant warn “Don’t Feed the Thieves”, meaning don’t leave anything valuable in your car if you don’t want to come out to a pile of broken glass on the street next to your shattered window. Inside, however, you could be in any hip neighborhood of Oakland, Berkeley or San Francisco. Hipster college students, retirees, and local residents all gather together to partake of a little bit of heaven: chicken and waffles.
These aren’t just any chicken and waffles. They are buttermilk battered chicken and cornmeal waffles with a dollop of brown sugar butter and warm apple cider syrup. Though the waitress tempted me with smoked pork hash (which smelled incredible when I walked in the door), I had my heart set on the chicken and waffles today. Focus, Todd, focus.
There is something amazing about the complexity of eating chicken and waffles together. Especially THESE chicken and waffles. First you have the flavor complexity: sweet syrup and butter, tart buttermilk batter, slightly salty chicken meat. Then you have the texture complexity: crunchy fried chicken batter and cornmeal waffle, slightly chewy chicken, and creamy butter. Put all that complexity together and it just explodes in your mouth. Seriously, how do two relatively simple dishes combine together to create something so incredible?
After my meal, I called for a shuttle back to the dealership and waited for my ride. When the driver pulled up, he smiled and said “I thought I might find you here.” As we drove back to the dealer, he pointed out a few other places he and his wife had tried around the neighborhood. “But,” he said with a knowing grin, “I’d pass them all up for Brown Sugar Kitchen.”
Brown Sugar Kitchen
234 Mandela Pkwy