Oakland is said to be the new Brooklyn, and Mua is a restaurant that definitely appeals to that vibe. It has built lots of hype, so a foodie like me was obviously eager to try it. Set in between car dealerships, it’s not clear what you’re getting into when entering the black warehouse garage looking building. You’ll walk right into a full bar with the best Cosmo you’ll ever drink and a bartender named Dave who’s so good, he named a drink after himself.
After getting past the bar you’ll find a host waiting to seat you in a a large open area with trendy decorations and even an upstairs lounge. You’ll want to order a drink, or three, and appetizers. Lots of appetizers. However, it’s important to save room for dessert.
- The Shiitake Mushroom Crostini was a delicious beginning to our dining experience. The crostini came topped with a creamy lime sauce that had just the right amount of tang that woke up our taste buds. The mushrooms were slimy- definitely only to be enjoyed by mushroom lovers like myself. The arugula was a necessary addition that made this happy hour appetizer perfect for our group of four. 4/5
2. The Chips & Guacamole honestly did not impress me. 2/4 of us loved them and even ordered an extra plate of them, but I found the chips to taste like Fritos. The guacamole was good and the tomato chunks improved it, but it didn’t stand out to me at all. The guac needed more lime and spice. I recommend Comal in Berkeley for fantastic chips and guac. 2/5
3. The Baked Goat Cheese was served with cranberry, creating an appetizer as sweet as cheesecake. This dessert-like dish was hot, creamy, and a mix of sweet and tart. It is very unusual and wouldn’t appeal to just anyone, but leaves a taste in your mouth that makes you go for another bite. 4/5
4. The Grilled Romaine Salad was my moms favorite. It was a rich salad served with caesar dressing and breadcrumb. The initial taste was warm followed by a satisfying crunch. Topped off perfectly with plenty of parmesan. 4/5
5. The Quinoa-Arugula salad includes nectarine, goat cheese and almonds and was by far one of my favorite dishes of the night. The fruity taste made it fresh and sweet, pairing very well with the goat cheese. Almonds were good texture to go with the apple slices and goat cheese. Next time I would ask for dressing light or on the side as it was little too heavy. 4/5
6. The Fried Calamari with chili and shallot was very tasty, as any other calamari would be. It is good for someone who wants calamari, but isn’t looking for anything out of the ordinary. The tentacle pieces were better than the rings due to the crunch. The ring-shaped ones were a bit soggy. The lemon slice was necessary for flavor and the dipping sauce was nice. 3/5
7. The Brussels Sprouts with brown butter were tasty, but for a brussels sprout snob like me, I wasn’t thoroughly impressed. While crisp is always good, the flavor was a little too burnt. 3/5
8. Finally, the “No Cheese” Mac ‘n Cheese was my favorite appetizer we tried. You would never know that this combo of butternut squash and cream did not contain any cheese. It was warm, creamy, soft to the tongue, and heavenly. I raved about it to my co-workers and would absolutely order it again. Not a shell was left in that bowl. 5/5
9. The Lamb Cheeks was the most daring food we tried, quickly intriguing us with it’s unfamiliarity. The waitress recommended them over the 24 Hour Pork Spare Ribs for the tender texture that accompanies them. In retrospect, we should have gone with the spare ribs. They were definitely tender, but very weird. The sauce helped add flavor to the smokey taste. They were not bad, but not worth it either. No one finished their lamb cheek. 1.5/5
10-12. No one can order just one dessert item at a place like this. Not for four people, anyway. We ordered Creme Brûlée, a Pecan Tart, and Bread Pudding. The creme brûlée was a cool vanilla custard with a burnt crisped top. Not unique to Mua, but delicious none the less. I’m salivating as I type and reminisce on the flavor. 5/5 The tart isn’t anything I would ever order, but it was warm, rich and tasty. It had a rich flavor created by the chocolate sauce drizzled over it and was accompanied by delicious vanilla ice cream. That’s no Dreyer’s. 4/5 Last but certainly not least, my favorite of the bunch, the bread pudding. The creme anglaise with raspberry sauce was everything I had imagined and more. The sauce created the perfect contrast between sweet and tart. It tasted warm and soft in my mouth, making me wish I was eating it again right now. I’m clearly a big fan of bread pudding.
13-14. The drinks. First is an Evad’O made with peach Ciroc, peach puree, pineapple juice and lime juice, created by their very own bartender, Dave. It was tart and tasty with a strong pineapple flavor. If I were to recreate it I would probably lighten the pineapple flavor and instead add grapefruit juice. 4/5 Next is the best Cosmopolitan any of us have ever tasted. Coming from the happy hour menu, we had two each. They were made with homemade cranberry juice and tasted so sweet, it was hard to believe they contained alcohol (until the feeling that came after finishing the second one of course). 5/5
Overall, Mua is a great location with an awesome vibe and some really cool options. With high prices, it’s not a place to frequent, except maybe for happy hours. 3.5/5 because it’s not all bank for your buck flavor-wise, but it’s still a great dining experience.
Make a reservation for 5:30, arrive during happy hour and grab a cosmo or two at the bar. Once seated at your table, order another cocktail and either the grilled romaine salad or the quinoa-arugula salad (or both), followed by the mac ‘n cheese. Try something that I didn’t get to in addition to those appetizers. End your course with the bread pudding, and if you feel like going for another dessert, get the creme brûlée. Bring your family or ball out for a date. After all, Steph Curry eats here. Maybe soon we’ll see Kevin Durant? 😉