i had the most wonderful dinner experience last night. we were going to have our usual friday evening dinner-and-an-episode-of-the sopranos but cathy was at a party, so ying and erik and i went out to dinner at a restaurant we’ve been wanting to try, unicorn.

erik and i have passed unicorn a few times while walking down telegraph and were intrigued by it, but it was never the right time to eat. we’ve always been slightly off-put by the fact that there is never anyone in the restaurant, or so it seems. it’s a very small place, only about ten tables as ying observed, and the reason it’s empty is because it’s not a fantastic location (for a not-cheap restaurant, i mean) and it’s very new.

the interior is a very warm and intimate atmosphere. all the tables have white cloths and plates and candles in the center. the staff is incredibly nice and welcoming, and when we were almost done with our meal we got to meet the owner, who was also very kind.

when it came time to order we asked our waiter (erik and i think he liked ying 🙂 ) what he would recommend, and he made some suggestions. based on that, we started our meal with a big plate full of appetizers (called the horn of plenty): unicorn rolls, which are rice-paper rolls stuffed with shredded taro and tofu and other things (i didn’t have any, of course, no tofu for me!); chao zhou shrimp rolls, similar to egg rolls and absolutely delicious; roasted quails (i didn’t have those); new zealand mussels in a scallion and peanut sauce (these were so good); and salt-and-pepper prawns, calamari and vegetables, which were very tasty and light. the horn of plenty can be eaten as an appetizer plate or as a full meal; it needs to be ordered for a minimum of two people. we decided we wanted to try more than just those things so we ordered a two-person platter which turned out to be quite generous in its portions.

after that we ordered the most wonderful soup i think all of us have ever had. it was actually under the noodles section, not the soup, but it was a prawn and rice noodle soup in a tomato crab sauce. i cannot explain how delicious this was. it didn’t sound so great when the waiter described it, and i thought it smelled weird and looked Interesting, but once i tasted it i was in love. it was a fairly big bowl of soup and noodles, probably twice the size of a large pho bowl, and between the three of us we completely finished it. i mean, completely–i scooped up what i thought was the last of the soup, then ying picked up the serving bowl and poured the very very last bits into her bowl. it was wonderful soup.

after the soup we had one more entrĂ©e, the jasmine brown rice clay pot. in a medium-size clay pot, they baked jasmine brown rice, zucchini, mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, chicken, beef and prawns until the rice at the bottom was crispy. the rice was a perfectly delicious texture and incredibly flavorful, and the vegetables were the same. i don’t know how they made such yummy vegetables, but they were so good! soft but not mushy, and really flavorful.

amazingly, after having eaten all that food, we weren’t feeling yucky but nicely full and very very happy. so what else was there to do but order dessert! we got a kahlĂşa flan and a fried banana with vanilla ice cream to share. the desserts were delicious of course, but i think i would rave more about their other food.

i liked unicorn for many reasons, but one of the things i think makes a really good restaurant is if you just love everything, and there’s nothing you can complain about. there’s no, oh this is well done but i don’t like this vegetable, or oh this would be good but the sauce is a little too salty for me. everything was truly perfect.

amazingly, the bill didn’t come out to be a ton. i thought it would, because the horn of plenty was $11.95 per person and we ordered a two-person platter, but it turned out that the other dishes weren’t too expensive. we didn’t pay nothing, but we didn’t pay as much as the food merited. if you’re worried about paying $11.95 for appetizers, the jasmine rice clay pot is more than enough for one person and it’s only $6.95.

i urge everyone to go try this restaurant! it’s just on telegraph, close to body time and shakespeare and company, and it’s open from eleven am to nine or ten pm every day. the menu changes on a regular basis and there is a huge selection of choices. the people there are so nice and the food is really wonderful. it’s a new restaurant that needs and deserves a lot of business, so go and help them out and get a wonderful meal! erik, ying and i are going there again next friday evening with cathy so we can introduce her to it. if you want to run into us… you should go too! 🙂

unicorn fine asian cuisine
2533 telegraph ave (near dwight; it’s right next door to that oxygen bar)
berkeley 94704
(510) 841 8098

[note, 4/10/14: Imported from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]