Roti Devote: Aman Cafe serves Burmese cuisine with a twist | East Bay Express


Aman Cafe is Tiyo Shibabaw’s second restaurant. His first, Teni East Kitchen, is next door. Where Teni East Kitchen serves a range of Burmese fare, Aman Cafe is devoted to one dish, “mostly vegetarian puff pastry, Malaysian roti canai with butter.” Roti is a flatbread, a great side dish for dipping and mopping curries and sauces. But Shibabaw decided to make roti the star of his own restaurant because “everyone in Teni East orders roti. I realized that I could go a little further.

The chef and owner said she wanted to combine this popular dish with vegetables like golden beets, carrots and potatoes. “We created this spicy coconut sauce that goes really well with it,” Shibabaw said. She viewed roti as a blank canvas, the same way pizza or focaccia dough is used. In this iteration, his business model mimics a creperie. Aman Cafe serves savory and sweet dishes.

I tried one in each category and shared them with a friend. The “Roti Comfort” ($10) is served with a mix of vegetables and tofu. My friend, a roti enthusiast, remembers trying it for the first time at a restaurant in Burlingame. I first tried it at the Straits on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco long before the restaurant closed. Although I can’t quite account for it, Roti Comfort was slightly salty and slightly sweet. Perhaps it was the addition of tofu that added an element of sweetness.

“Zag Roti” ($7) is definitely a dessert. The roti is decorated with a sliced ​​banana cooked in condensed milk. After cooking, the milk took on a dark brown and golden color. Essentially, it turned into syrup. Other sweet options include variations with seasonal fruit; one of which uses vegan condensed milk and nigella, or black cumin seeds.

The menu as a whole is outstanding for serving vegetarian dishes. There is only one starter with chicken, vegetables and spices ($11). Shibabaw herself is not a vegetarian, although vegetables make up 80% of her diet. But after leading Teni East for five years, she noticed an interesting stat. She saw that 25% of Teni East’s menu is strictly vegetarian (the menu includes seafood, lamb and beef), but 50% of her sales came from vegetarian orders.

Shibabaw was born in Ethiopia, but after moving to Oakland in 1997, she decided to stay. “One thing about Oakland – you can really travel without travelling, right on Telegraph Avenue,” she said. “You can go to a Korean, Ethiopian or Eritrean restaurant.” She joined the Burma Superstar restaurant group in 2007 to learn about cooking and learn how to cook Asian dishes. When Burma Superstar expanded to East Bay, Shibabaw managed the front and back of the house at the Alameda location.

“I’ve worked with so many immigrants from Burma, spending time with them and learning how they layer dishes,” she said. She found their approach to cooking to be similar to the techniques of her own Ethiopian family. “The only things I had to get used to were the fish sauce and the shrimp paste.”

After 10 years with Burma Superstar, Shibabaw wanted to do their own take on what Burmese food is. Along with Teni East and Aman Cafe, she also works with her friends now. “I wanted to blend Southeast Asian herbs and spices with California greens and make them a little fresher and brighter,” she said. “That’s what Teni East Kitchen is.”

Growing up, Shibabaw helped out at his parents’ restaurant. “It’s a small town where my parents built a hotel that only serves the community,” she says. But the chef, who trains her staff to prepare the dishes on her menus, has also learned to cook at home. “It’s a big family, cooking for 30 or 40 people a day.” Managing two restaurants seems much less complicated. “The Bay Area, in general, I think is really amazing,” she said. “I am constantly learning and growing as a person.”

Aman Café, open Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 4021 Broadway, Oakland. 510.922.8749.


Comments are closed.