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This North Oakland Corner Store Serves Up Some of the Tastiest Pakistani Food in Town

Al-Maida is a two-table restaurant tucked in the back of a market.

 

The most notable thing about North Oakland’s A & Sons Market & Deli isn’t the selection of organic juices or the well-stocked shelves of international foodstuffs—though those, too, are a cut above your average corner store’s wares. Rather, since this past spring, the back half of the market has been home to Al-Maida, a little two-table restaurant where chef-owner Sayed Muhammad serves some of the tastiest Pakistani food in town.

Unlike other, similarly scrappy little convenience store food operations, Al-Maida doesn’t just dabble in sandwiches and fried foods—though the lengthy, halal menu does include a cheesesteak and chicken wings, to appeal to the market’s various constituencies, and the most popular item is probably the lamb kebab wrap, served on fresh-baked naan. The dearest treasures are the dishes Muhammad offers up as rotating specials: a karahi beef biryani, or stewed yellow lentils, or, as I was delighted to discover during a midafternoon visit this summer, paya curry ($8), a goat trotter dish Muhammad says is popular for breakfast in Pakistan. Served in a pool of rich, cumin-tinged gravy, the trotters had simmered for five hours, until meat, tendon, and gelatinous skin slipped off the bone at the slightest nudge. An enthusiastic bone sucker winds up with a pile of shiny, rounded knuckles with almost no effort at all. 5650 Market St. (at Aileen St.), Oakland, 510-356-5874 

 

Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco

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