At Ben's Chinese food restaurant — a little, blue hole in the wall in Oakland's Jack London district — you don't eat hot sauce with your food. You eat food with your hot sauce. Every morning, the chef-owner, Ben Fung, makes a massive bucket of his homemade black-bean sauce with hot peppers, which is then portioned into small containers for each table. Your personal container of hot sauce will be finished by the end of your meal — if you're eating Ben's right. And by the end of the day, the full batch is often entirely gone, even though the small restaurant is only open on weekdays and closes at 2 p.m. It's not the spiciest sauce in town, but the punch is in the flavor, so it adds dimension to a dish, rather than just fire. And one of the best parts about Ben's is that the wait staffer (there is only one) always packs a generous serving into a to-go container when you order takeout. Ben knows his strengths.
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