Old Weang Ping is overgrown with ivy and tropical plastic flowers. Wood birds suspend from the ceiling, mismatched string lights adorn the walls, and a cascading alter to an orange-cloaked meditation guru greets you at the doorway. But here my normal gag reaction to clutter doesn’t kick in. In fact, the palm thatch booths, the tiny window that peaks into the kitchen, the easy, beachside paced service and yes, the chachki exude the feeling that somewhere along I-580 E we exited and ended up at a Phuket hideaway.
This tiny restaurant sits next to an apartment building on MacArthur and 62nd, it’s both out of place and yet completely at home in its quirkiness. A husband and wife tag team the kitchen and floor, and for the duration of your stay in what feels like their converted home you submit to their pace and their rules. Survive the hurdles- a locked front door, a timely wait to order, flavorless tea (in glasses that cater to your play-pretend pimp desires) and you’ll make it to what’s anything but quirky, their seriously good food.
The menu is a black and white photocopy underneath the glass top of our table. Half of it is handwritten, the subheads are in old English (pimp cups, pimp font!), and the prices are all under $7.25. Specials up on the chalkboard range a little more. Aside from your standard appetizers and sides like satay and papaya salad, you’ll also find a barbarian soup, seafood cucumber salad, three different kind of cakes, and a fruit drink (it’s not a juice, it’s a fruit drink). But for the most part the menu works as so: pick a protein ranging from duck to catfish and pick a sauce (curry, peanut, sweet basil, etc.) Or for the vegetarians, pick three veggies and pick a sauce. If there’s a chili pepper next to the sauce believe it means you’ll get a little sweat on the brow.
Our dishes appeared one by one, the pad see ew with more flavor than normal, the green curry with major bite, and the heaping basket of sticky rice provoking an urge to ask for a lifetime supply to go. Fire-loving friends don’t neglect the salsa.
For those of you who don’t have a copy of the Berkeley High Slang Dictionary, the term referenced in the title of this post, “don’t blow it up” means don’t go running and tell all your hipster friends about this place. As we bid goodbye and promises of good reviews the owner called out, “noooo, no more yelp! Too many good reviews!” with a weary smile on his face. Which I can only interpret as, this is a family restaurant with happy regulars and a slow flow of new customers, and we don’t want to overwhelm the service (which is also the kitchen and the management). Come here quietly and come with an appetite.
Got the travel bug?
Old Weang Ping, 6217 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland
They do take out!
Phone: (510) 430-8771