Downtown Alameda might be small, but its dining scene is incredibly diverse. Within just a few blocks' radius, you'll find Xi'an-style street food, a wide array of Vietnamese food, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, and what's likely the only Lithuanian restaurant on the West Coast.
Now, Alameda has another unique addition to its dining scene: a table-service rotisserie that's charmingly named Spinning Bones. The restaurant, which opened on Nov. 1, is the latest venture from experienced restaurateurs Mike Yakura and Danny Sterling. Up until now, Yakura and Sterling have focused their efforts in San Francisco — they also own Dobbs Ferry in Hayes Valley and Noodle Me in the Financial district. But as a resident of Alameda for the last decade, Yakura is excited to have a restaurant that's closer to home.
"I wanted to live and work in the same place," Yakura said. "I'm gonna feed the people I know. ... I love this community."
At Spinning Bones, Yakura and co-chef Lauren Lambert start with quality meats like Llano Seco pork, Allen Brothers beef, and 38 North chickens. The meat then gets marinated in shio koji, a Japanese mixture of fermented rice, water, and salt that Yakura says helps add umami, depth, and color to the meat. The meats are then roasted on one of the restaurant's eight spits. Each kind of meat gets dressed with a different seasoning and accompaniment.
Meat options include a half chicken with Japanese tare sauce, orange salt, tossed greens, and roti; black pepper flank steak with chimichurri, umami salt, broccoli, and sesame oil; pork shoulder with garlic-jalapeño garum and smashed cucumber pickles; and St. Louis pork ribs with yellow curry salt, Japanese potato salad, and pickled jalapeños. Groups looking to try a little of everything can opt for the Trip's Triple, a combo plate that includes all four meats.
The sides also offer a departure from your typical rotisserie accompaniments. Some options include blistered shishito peppers; corn with shoyu, noru, tofu dressing and scallions; and "party rice" with green tea, hijiki seaweed, carrots, and firm tofu. Rounding out the menu is a selection of starters, including mochiko fried chicken nuggets and a sampler with cashew cheese, smoked baba ganoush, lemongrass falafel, seasonal veggies, and roti. There are also a few salads, plus a rotating selection of desserts like butter mochi and peanut butter granola torte. And contrary to what the restaurant's name might suggest, there are also plenty of vegetarian and vegan offerings, as well as dairy-free and gluten-free options available. There's also beer and sake on tap, plus a list of wines, bottled beer, and sake.
At first, Yakura described Spinning Bones as an Asian or Hawaiian-style rotisserie — and yes, the kitchen uses plenty of Asian ingredients. But now, Yakura prefers the descriptor "California-style." "These are the flavors that we grew up with that we just cook at home," Yakura said. "Soy sauce, sesame, furikake — all those small ingredients ... definitely feel Asian, but then when you get them across the table, they just feel Californian."
Spinning Bones is at 1205 Park St. in Alameda and is open for dinner 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Tue.-Sun. Online delivery will be available starting this week. Look out for future dinner hours on Mondays, plus counter-service lunch hours and catering coming soon. There's also a back patio, which is expected to open this spring. For more information, visit SpinningBones.com.