Buying food in Berkeley, or the entire Bay Area, is expensive. You will not find the large variety of cheap and delicious food which we have taken for granted in hawker centres, nor the familiar taste of Singaporean cuisine in Berkeley. Although there is a decent variety of food near the campus, a single takeaway meal for lunch will cost you anywhere from 10 to 15 USD. Here are some options to maximise your dining options:
1.Download the Snackpass app
Casual food dining in Berkeley revolves around this smartly designed app called Snackpass. Using Snackpass, you can view the entire catalogue of dining options available to you in the area. After deciding on your restaurant of choice, order your meal and pick it up to eat anywhere on campus or at home. There are additional features such as free rewards after buying from the same place multiple times. Get your friends on the app to order at the same restaurant to get discounts off the total bill. Fast dining in Berkeley is easy and accessible. Perhaps the best feature of the app is the ability to hatch chickens with friends you buy meals with. Every purchase contributes to a progression in a meter with a friend, which when maxed out, hatches a chicken which you can dress up with outfits in a shop. It is a very cute and fun gamification of an otherwise simple app.
Meal portions in the US tend to be on the larger side and a standard portion might be able to feed you for more than 1 meal. Feel free to ask for a takeaway box after dining in and bring the rest back as leftovers for future meals.
There is no Chinese food that I would recommend in Berkeley unfortunately. If you are looking for Korean food, T-Toust down Sather Lane serves delicious Korean soups and rice dishes. Alley Kitchen serves decent rice bowls to satiate your rice cravings; Top Dog sells amazing hotdog buns with a wide variety of gourmet sausages. Good Mexican food can be found at many places and a personal favourite is Tacos Sinaloa down Telegraph Avenue. The undisputed greatest restaurant in Berkeley is Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen found downtown along Shattuck Avenue, where you can try authentic Louisiana and New Orleans cuisine. Although on a pricier side, the food was so good that some of us went back down every week to eat the exact same dish.
Of course, cooking your own meals is a valid and more affordable option that many may choose to do instead. You can head down to Berkeley Bowl, a huge grocery store to pick up anything from fresh produce to snacks or to Trader Joe’s, a grocery store which exclusively sells house brand goods that are cheap and good. If you are getting tired of the western palette and crave some asain cooking, you can also take a 30 min train ride to 99 Ranch in El Cerrito to buy all kinds of Asian ingredients and sauces. Cooking is a much cheaper alternative to eating out for your meals and after some time in the states, I think many of us will crave a nice home-cooked meal. Some simple dishes which I tried making included Braised Pork Rice, various Stir frys and even Bak Chor Mee. Travelling overseas without the supervision of your family is also a good time to practice some independence and perhaps learn or hone your skill in cooking