First Bite: Filipino Cuisine Stakes a Claim
Likha’s refined food-truck fare finds a home in Emeryville.
A spot where Lilliputian forks are utilized and orders are taken by the barkeep and delivered by the chefs, Likha—located in the gentrifying ’hood at the Emeryville-Oakland border—might be the unlikeliest of spots to fall in love with Filipino food.
Likha’s breezy front patio is more atmospheric than its hip lounge, but both venues serve up a refined (or as refined as compostable plates can deliver) riff on an underappreciated—and hotly trending—cuisine.
Lumpia arrives in crackly, crisp shells filled with finely textured Niman Ranch sausage. A generous helping of vinegary chicken adobo comes over tender, perfumed rice. An unassuming bowl of braised greens (gai lan), rich with coconut milk and simmered with dried shrimp—an intense Asian “spice”—had all the satisfaction of lobster bisque. (Follow it up with a refreshing and seasonally fresh nectarine salad.) The rice bowls are marvelous, particularly those topped with rich pork belly or Spam—a spicy house-made terrine sliced and fried to order.
Short-leased in the neighborhood-friendly Hometown Heroes sports bar, Likha is like a pop-up or a food truck with cocktails instead of wheels. Our only disappointment was the ukoy fritters, an unwieldy and crumbly mass of cold fried veggies—a flaw perhaps, but one easily overlooked in the midst of a starry-eyed crush.
4000 Adeline St., Emeryville, (510) 560-5653, likhaeats.com. Lunch Saturday, dinner daily.