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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Tennyson Rd in Hayward is another one of those Bay Area streets with a seemingly endless variety of interesting (and mostly very modest) little restaurants. The strip mall which houses the subject of this post is a good case in point, with a Mexican bakery/deli, a pizzeria and a Szechuan-Chinese restaurant all in a row.


As I have acknowledged previously, being from New Jersey, I have an admittedly narrow and dogmatic view of what “real” pizza is and how it should taste. Consequently (leaving aside Chicago-style pizza restaurants) I’m pretty damn fussy and just don’t do a lot of pizza.

Now, it happened that I was assigned a bank-owned listing in a little neighborhood off Tennyson several years back.  The occupants, not content to have stiffed the bank on some hundreds of thousand of dollars borrowed in various re-fi’s, were hanging tough in the property, declining (albeit very politely) all offers of “cash for keys” and refusing to move following the foreclosure.  They managed to drag things out for over a year before the eviction finally took place.  During that time I had to drive by the property at least once every week to confirm that they were still really there.  That was a lot of trips down Tennyson Rd.

During that time I got to sample many of the street’s lunch offerings, since I always tried to go mid-day to avoid the almost inevitable late afternoon and morning traffic jams on 880.  It was on one of these outings that I discovered New York Pizza.


The inside of the restaurant is cavernous and it seems like the kitchen area must be quite small, since the dining area doubles as a storeroom. (I guess that the place must mainly do take-out business, since there are never too many people there when I stop in.)


The furnishings are pretty ugly, as is the carpet, and the New York photo murals are showing their age – but the chandeliers do give the place an elegant look.


The important thing, though, is that the pizza’s actually good. The crust is very thin but avoids the crackery consistency you often have to settle for here in CA when you want to avoid the bland bready-ness from which so many West Coast pizzas suffer.


Equally importantly, the pie actually has some real taste to it.  The sauce is especially flavorful and reminds me of home (NJ, that is).


The slice (shown here cut in half) has plenty of sausage, which also has a nice flavor.


If there’s a knock on the place. it’s that they sometimes leave your slice in the oven a little too long.

Still, the piece is huge and at $1.99 for cheese or $2.49 for the sausage, you really can’t beat it.  One of these slices plus a can of soda and you still are out the door with an excellent lunch under your belt for less than 4 bucks.

Note: There are lots of “New York Pizzas” in the Bay Area, many of them unrelated. The Hayward New York Pizza is part of a small, mainly local chain, with several stores over on the Peninsula.  (There’s even a phone number for a Laguna Hills location, but no address.) I have not tried any of them, but, by the look of the web site, (and not surprisingly) the Palo Alto, San Carlos and San Mateo stores might be a little fancier than the Hayward location. They also seem to charge more for the slices – since the on-line menu shows them at $3.99-$4.99.

www.newyorkpizza.biz/

665 W Tennyson Rd,
Hayward, CA 94544
(510) 786-3165

I’ve never been to Hawaii and until just a few years ago, I’d never even heard of Hawaiian barbeque, let alone tried it. Then one day back in 2008 I happened to be over in Hercules, having just finished up a much-longer-than-necessary (non)occupancy verification, entry and re-keying of a foreclosure assignment. Tired, hungry and cranky, I was just about to break down and actually eat at Subway when I noticed a place next door called L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. I ordered a regular Chicken Katsu and from that meal alone, I became an instant Hawaiian BBQ devotee.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about Hawaiian Barbeque, including that the term itself is an invention by the founder of L&L to entice us ignorant mainlanders and that in Hawaii it’s called (rather boringly) Plate Lunch. I’ve also learned that L&L is the MacDonalds of Hawaiian Barbeque (although I will admit L&Ls can be fine) and that there are many better options scattered around the East Bay.

When you’re in Concord (and even when you’re not) one of the best of these options is Waikiki Hawaiian BBQ. Located in a small strip mall on Willow Pass Rd (just blocks away from two of my habitual destinations: Fry’s and Ranch 99) Waikiki’s take on the plate lunch is one of the best in the East Bay.

As you’d expect, the interior isn’t fancy…

… but the prices are excellent.

When it comes to lunch in the middle of a busy day, I often opt for a lighter option – say, a katsu or barbequed chicken sandwich and a scoop of Waikiki’s unparallelled Mac salad.

The sandwich is modest – lettuce, mayo, onion and tomato plus meat on a hamburger bun.  No pretensions but still tasty.  The mac salad is to-die-for – rich, creamy, perfectly textured – and I’m sometimes tempted just to buy 3 scoops and skip the sandwich.  Altogether, this meal sets you back $3.55 and, unlike eating even a mini, you don’t feel like you’ve got to go take a nap when you’re done.

Still, at times I can’t help myself and I’ll order a “mini” (smaller meat portion, 1 scoop each of rice and mac salad). If I’m feeling really glutinous, I’ll go for the regular (a ton of meat, 2 scoops of rice and 1 scoop of mac salad).

I started out as a nearly exclusive consumer of chicken katsu – perfectly cooked breaded, deep fried chicken thighs – with a tangy-sweep katsu sauce for dipping.

(Regular chicken katsu)

The same chicken is used for several other items, served with different sauces. Lately, in fact, I’ve switched over to the “chicken cutlet” which comes covered in brown gravy.

(Regular chicken cutlet)

The ultimate in island comfort food.

(Mini chicken cutlet)

Waikiki Hawaiian BBQ
1680 Willow Pass Rd
Concord, CA 94520
(925) 798-8002