How to have the best time at the East Bay’s only two-MICHELIN-starred restaurant

Thinly sliced radishes in a bowl with pieces of white fish and caviar at Oakland restaurant Commis

Commis, the East Bay’s only two-MICHELIN-starred restaurant, turns 15 this June, and it’s just as good as ever.

The two-star stunner recently debuted on OpenTable with reservations in the dining room and at its bar. “Now, less is more,” chef James Syhabout says about the style of his food right now at the restaurant. “It’s not too fussy, jumbled up, or showy. The creations aren’t forced, it’s more relaxed.” 

The restaurant’s been consistently impressing diners and critics since it opened in 2009 because it reflects Syhabout’s journey: He was born in northeast Thailand, grew up in Oakland, and now does laidback but luxurious fine dining that spotlights local ingredients with Southeast Asian influences. 

With that in mind, Syhabout recommends the full tasting menu for special occasions and the bar for when you want a slightly more casual experience. Either way, here’s the inside scoop on both and how to have the best time at Commis.

The full-on dinner

A white sauce dish with an egg yolk peeking out at Oakland restaurant Commis
Even though the menu changes seasonally, the jammy egg yolk is a staple. Photo credit: Adahlia Cole

The 10-course feast ($225) opens in the minimalist dining room with cool oysters, raw fish, and salads; progresses into warm seafood; and finishes with rice. 

Expect fresh, seasonal updates, but some things will always stay, like the fan-favorite slow-poached egg yolk that arrives in a bowl with smoked dates and an onion sauce. Locals also eagerly await Dungeness crab season to get a taste of Commis’s soup with bright Meyer lemon and herbal Chrysanthemum greens, all served in an orb over flower petals. Plus, you can always get extra fancy by adding Wagyu and caviar to your meal.

There’s an optional $119 beverage pairing, where sommelier Andrew Browne creates a globe-trotting tasting that never repeats a country, so you can easily end up on a journey from Georgian wine to Korean soju.

Book now for the dining room

The laidback spinoff

bar
Slide into a spot at the marble bar for a casual spinoff on the full dining-room experience. Photo credit: Adahlia Cole

This condensed tasting ($95) at the marble bar has four courses. Think of this as your Commis greatest hits experience: a snacky starter, salad, warm seafood, and dessert. And you’re obviously getting the legendary egg yolk.

You can always do the beverage pairing (a mini $55 version), but there’s also a cocktail list that’s tailor made for this more laidback tasting (you can also order cocktails in the dining room). 

The chef James Syhabout at his Oakland restaurant Commis
Chef and owner James Syhabout does fine dining with Southeast Asian influences at Commis. Photo credit: Adahlia Cole

Hot tip: For a one-of-a-kind evening, let the suited bartenders guide you through the extensive selection of brandy that’s made from different fruits and sourced from around the world.

Commis only offers reservations 30 days in advance, so check a few weeks ahead. The bar and the dining room are open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm.

Book now for the bar

Becky Duffett is a food writer living and eating in San Francisco. She was the deputy editor at Eater SF and has written for The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Bon Appétit, among other places. Follow her on Instagram at @beckyduffett.

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