Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Great China’s New Plan, Sunday Brunch at Kitchen 388, and Lots of Berkeley Action

by Luke Tsai
Wed, May 30, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Last week, I gave an update on three Chinese restaurants that are currently out of commission due to kitchen fires that took place over the course of this past year. Days later, a post on Chowhound tipped me off to the fact that for at least one of those restaurants, there has already been a change in plans: Great China will no longer be reopening at its original (fire-damaged) Kittredge St. location. Instead, as per the restaurant's website, it will open one block away, in a newly remodeled space at 2190 Bancroft Way — the former Looney's Smokehouse location. Unfortunately, this means the reopening will be pushed back to spring of 2013.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Get Inspired: Tour an Urban Farm (or Two or Six)

by Luke Tsai
Tue, May 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM

A visit to K. Ruby Blume’s backyard garden is like stepping into a lush vegetal paradise — not what you’d expect to find hidden away in a decidedly urban, working-class ’hood in North Oakland.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Saul's Has an Israeli Chef, Addie's Closes, and New Restaurants Prepare to Launch

by Luke Tsai
Wed, May 23, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) For the past eight months, Saul's Deli has had a new chef de cuisine, 31-year-old Elisheva Isaac, who has the distinction of being the first Israeli chef in the Berkeley institution's 25-year history, according to J Weekly, which ran a nice profile of Isaac last week. While Saul's has always prided itself on serving Sephardic dishes (with seasonal vegetables and interesting grains and legumes) — not just big beef sandwiches — for the past few months Isaac has added her own personal stamp to the restaurant's specials menu: chicken roasted with zaatar and honey dates, Moroccan baked fish served over Israeli couscous, the Yemeni pancakes known as malawach, homemade labneh, and more. J Weekly notes that Isaac keeps kosher in Saul's non-kosher kitchen, which means even though she tastes all the dishes she prepares, she doesn't always swallow. Hat tip to Inside Scoop for first bringing the story to our attention.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

[UPDATED] Recovery Slow for Fire-Ravaged Chinese Restaurants

by Luke Tsai
Tue, May 22, 2012 at 4:49 PM

Did someone anger the gods of Chinese cookery? How else to explain the spate of kitchen fires that have knocked out three of the East Bay’s better Chinese restaurants — all heavy in my personal rotation — in a little over a year?

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Off the Grid Comes to Alameda

by Luke Tsai
Tue, May 22, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Earlier this year, What the Fork reported on Alameda’s newly-passed mobile food ordinance, which went into effect on February 6. Hailed as one of the most permissive in the Bay Area, the policy allowed food trucks to park on almost every street in the city, in addition to five approved off-street locations. Only one question remained: Would mobile food vendors find it worth their while to show up in large numbers, given the island city’s relatively sparse population?

It looks likes the answer to that question will be a resounding yes — at least on Saturdays starting next week: Today, Matt Cohen, proprietor of the wildly popular Off the Grid mobile food events, officially announced his newest market, which will launch next Saturday, June 2, at Alameda South Shore Center.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Scouring the Coliseum for a Decent Meal

by Luke Tsai
Thu, May 17, 2012 at 12:53 PM

We’re more than a month into the baseball season and, hey, the A’s are still hanging tough! Last week I headed over to the Coliseum to catch a day game, taking advantage of the $2 ticket deal they have on Wednesdays.* Meanwhile, I hoped to snag something decent to eat and, for the love of Billy Beane, I didn’t want to pay “big-market” prices.

*Am I the last person to find out about this? The seats aren’t the best — I don’t think I saw where a single fly ball landed — but $2 is $2.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Local 123 Goes Mobile, Authentic Bagel Company, and Blue Bottle's Beehives

by Luke Tsai
Wed, May 16, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Berkeley coffee shop Local 123's second location will be a 1969 Streamline Airstream trailer that will be parked permanently in front of Flowerland Nursery, at 1330 Solano Avenue. Owner Frieda Hoffman says she's now in the final stages of the permitting process with the Alameda County health department — assuming that final inspections all go according to plan, she has tentatively slated the café's three-year anniversary weekend, June 16-17, for the trailer's grand opening. According to Hoffman, the trailer will sell individually brewed drip coffee, espresso drinks via a La Marzocco Linea espresso machine, and a variety pastries.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

A New Coalition: Friendlier Pod Model for Food Truck Operators?

by Luke Tsai
Mon, May 14, 2012 at 11:12 AM

The latest in what has become a torrent of weekly mobile food events (“food pods”) launching in Oakland takes off this Thursday: A three-truck pod organized by Kate McEachern, proprietor of the CupKates mobile cupcakery, will be open for business at the intersection of 12th and Broadway from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Victory Burger, Nick's Pizza, and a Couple of Restaurant Remodels

by Luke Tsai
Wed, May 9, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) As reported previously, Actual Cafe owner (and weekend laptop policy enforcer) Sal Bednarz is opening an artisan burger joint called Victory Burger in the space adjacent to his North Oakland cafe. According to Bednarz, the new restaurant's overall theme is going to draw on World War II imagery — Victory Gardens and "Do Your Part" messaging, plus an industrial-shipyard aesthetic and lots of pickled things. Bednarz hopes to break ground in a couple months. In the meantime he's launched a $25,000 Kickstarter campaign specifically to fund the restaurant's facade and other aesthetic elements.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Vegan Soul Food Comes to Oakland Chinatown

by Luke Tsai
Tue, May 8, 2012 at 4:24 PM

There’s something about finding interesting eats at an unlikely location that really gets the ol’ food writer’s blood pumping. Authentic ghormeh sabzi at an Oakland Hills delicatessen? Hell to the yes. Cambodian meat skewers from a hole-in-the-wall donut shop? We hardly knew ye.

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