Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mid-Week Menu: Latin Flavors at Bourbon & Beef, an Oven Venture for Former O Chame Chef, and a Birthday Party for the King of Pop

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 7:00 AM

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

1) SF Eater reports that Rockridge’s newest restaurant, Bourbon & Beef (5634 College Ave.), is now open in the former (and long-shuttered) Water Lounge space. Not to be confused with the similarly-named San Francisco speakeasy (Bourbon and Branch), the concept here is pan-Latin farm to table, with the menu evenly split between small plates and platos grandes. Lots of interesting-sounding dishes: lobster bisque with corn flan, seafood paella featuring giant Tasmanian prawns, and, of course, several different beef preps, including a “duck bacon wrapped beef tender.”

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Grease Box, Phat Beets, and the ‘G’ Word

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Lizzy Boelter says when she opened Grease Box (942 Stanford Avenue), one of the things she was most excited about was the potential for collaboration with Phat Beets Produce, the other tenant in the North Oakland building that housed her new gluten-free restaurant. After all, Phat Beets hosted a popular farmers’ market in the property’s parking lot. The food justice collective had been widely acclaimed for its work supporting small farmers and farmers of color. It had even started a promising kitchen incubator program in the very building it now shared with Grease Box.

Boelter told What the Fork she was down all of that. “Nothing is more exciting than having a restaurant connected to a farmers’ market — especially because they’re working with farmers of color,” she said.

Now, less than two months later, Phat Beets has accused Boelter of displacing its programs and pushing out low-income Oakland residents, many of them people of color. According to a statement published on the organization’s website, Phat Beets sees Grease Box as “part of the ongoing process of gentrification — where historic Oakland residents lose houses, jobs, and opportunities to newer, wealthier incoming residents with greater access to resources.”

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mid-Week Menu: Disco Volante Closes, PieTisserie Moves Out, and Olde Depot Is No Longer All-Vegan

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 8:00 AM

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

1) Though it had a legion of fans and one of the most popular burgers in town, the downtown Oakland bar Disco Volante (347 14th St.) shut its doors for good on Monday night with one last hurrah, complete with a New Orleans brass band second line. R.I.P.

2) One more piece of bad news, though hopefully this one has a silver lining: As reported yesterday, the PieTisserie pie window inside of the Mexican restaurant Nido (444 Oak St., Oakland) is now closed. Stay tuned, however, for details about pie maestra Jaynelle St. Jean’s next move, which will include a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a new brick-and-mortar pie shop.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

PieTisserie Moves Out

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 1:26 PM

A public service announcement for fans of Jaynelle St. Jean's excellent (and much-lauded) pies: If you're thinking about picking up a slice from the PieTisserie pie window located inside of the Mexican restaurant Nido (444 Oak St., Oakland), you can save yourself the trip. Sadly, as of a couple of weeks ago, the pie shop has closed.

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Is Your Kitchen Hazardous to Your Health?

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Aug 20, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Here’s a quick poll for folks who regularly cook at home: Do you turn your range hood on every time you fire up the stove to sear off a steak or stir-fry some vegetables? Does your kitchen even have a range hood? If so, do you know how well it works?

If you answered no to at least one of those questions, you might be exposing yourself to dangerously high levels of indoor air pollutants — possibly even a level that exceeds the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for outdoor air quality, according to a recent study by the indoor air quality research group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In other words, for frequent cooks, breathing the air inside your home may have many of the same deleterious health effects we typically associate with smog-filled city streets.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ramen Shop Goes to Japan

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM

If you’ve read anything at all about Oakland’s Ramen Shop (5812 College Ave.), you’ve almost certainly heard about how the three Chez Panisse alums who run the wildly popular ramen-ya first found inspiration from time they spent in Japan — how one of them, Jerry Jaksich, trained under a ramen master in Sapporo, and how the trio scoured the alleyways of Hokkaido and Tokyo in search of that elusive perfect bowl.

Now, Jaksich, Rayneil De Guzman, and Sam White want to give their restaurant’s cooks that same opportunity — to travel to Japan, to experience the country’s rich food culture at the source, and to allow all of the flavors and techniques they encounter to inform their cooking once they get back to Ramen Shop.

Toward that end, the restaurant is hosting a special “Ramen Shop Goes to Japan” pop-up event on Tuesday, August 20, from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. A $50 ticket (available online until they sell out) buys you all the Japanese street food you can eat and all the beer, wine, and punch you can drink. All profits from the pop-up will go toward plane tickets to Japan.

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Mid-Week Menu: Filipino Food in Oakland, Sliders in Berkeley, and ‘Vodka Dumps’ All Over

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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

1) Is Oakland’s Filipino food scene in the midst of a renaissance? Not long after I filed my review of Lucky Three Seven, a new Filipino takeout joint (spoiler: I liked it), East Bay Dish notes another promising Filipino spot, Kain’bigan (2101 14th Ave.), that’s having its soft opening today, starting at 11 a.m. I’m just excited to have another source for Filipino breakfast: The nice-looking menu includes an assortment of “silogs” (various meats served over garlic rice with a fried egg on top).

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A New-School Wi-Fi Cafe

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Call it standard decor for the 21st-century coffeehouse: a wall of shiny silver Macbooks and, behind them, a legion of new-generation “officeless” workers, clicking away. Spend enough time talking to local cafe owners and you’ll likely hear a few rants about the most egregious of these laptop drones, who squat all day, leeching Wi-Fi, often without purchasing more than a single cup of coffee.

But according to Dominick Scala, an Oakland-based writer and former bartender, there’s no reason the two basic cafe functions — a place to do work and a place to socialize and enjoy good food and drink — need to be mutually exclusive. And so Scala plans to open what he calls a “new school cafe dedicated to those who work from home” — a place that will embrace Wi-Fi addicts and other customers who, quite simply, need to get stuff done. The cafe, which Scala has dubbed Cafe Underwood, will be located at 308 41st Street (at Broadway) in North Oakland, in the same building that will house the new Trueburger outpost.

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The Best International Breakfasts in the East Bay

by Luke Tsai
Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 12:00 PM

As much as I enjoy going out for breakfast or brunch, it’s easy to fall into an American-breakfast rut. After so many days of sausage links and pancakes and Lord-knows-how-many permutations of bacon, it can get to be a little much.

Last week, as I polished off an order of beef torta and fried egg over rice at Lucky Three Seven, the new Filipino restaurant I reviewed this week, I thought about how lucky we are in the East Bay to have a wealth of breakfast options that draw on culinary traditions from all over the globe. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mid-Week Menu: Desco Opens in Old Oakland, Old Weang Ping Passes the Torch, and Tamashii Ramen Is Coming to Richmond

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 12:00 PM

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

1) It’s seems like the folks who run Emeryville Public Market have been talking forever about upping the food court’s coolness quotient. The latest effort? Eater reports that the shopping center’s new owners, City Center Realty Partners, are planning a pretty drastic revamp, likely kicking out several of the less popular food court tenants while attempting to attract casual, quick-service projects by “Michelin-starred” chefs from the Bay Area and beyond. We’ll see how it all pans out, but it sounds like the new stalls won’t launch for at least another year.

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