Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: A Plum Gig, Yonsei Ramen, and Gluten-Free Grilled Cheese

by Luke Tsai
Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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

1) Another day, another new executive chef at Plum (2214 Broadway): Inside Scoop brings the news that Daniel Patterson has hired Manfred Wrembel, formerly the chef de cuisine at San Francisco’s Incanto, to head the kitchen at both Plum and Plum Bar. Initial reports didn’t mention the plans of outgoing chef Rob Dort (or whether it was an amicable parting), but Patterson did confirm — over Twitter — that Dort is indeed moving on. If you’re keeping score at home, in the little over two years since Plum’s earliest preview dinner days, the restaurant has had, by my count, six different chefs — Jeremy Fox, Lauren Kiino, Ron Boyd (two stints), Charlie Parker, Dort, and now Wrembel. (Did I miss anyone?)

Meanwhile, Inside Scoop notes that the restaurant will take this opportunity to shift to a more traditional menu, with appetizers, entrées, and so forth — no more smallish plates divided by taxonomy (“animal,” “vegetable,” etc.). Other changes afoot: Plum will now open a half hour earlier, at 5 p.m., and Plum Bar will start lunch service in December.

2) Eater reports that Fivetenburger owner (and burger maestro) Roland Robles has put in an application for a liquor license at 984 University Ave. in Berkeley — the former Temple Bar location. The name of the new restaurant will be Handlebar (you know, like the mustache). Grub Street adds a couple additional details: Jennifer Seidman (of Berkeley’s Acme Bar) is a partner in the project, and Robles is targeting a spring 2013 opening.

Vegetarian moyashi (bean sprout) ramen at Kyle Itanis new after-hours pop-up.
  • Vegetarian moyashi (bean sprout) ramen at Kyle Itani's new after-hours pop-up.
3) Lots of ramen action in Oakland these days: Every Friday night, from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., Hopscotch chef Kyle Itani will be running an after-hours pop-up ramen shop at his own restaurant (1915 San Pablo Ave.). Itani has dubbed the operation Yonsei Ramen Shop (“yonsei” meaning great-grandchild in Japanese) as a nod to his own status as a fourth-generation Japanese American. At least two kinds of ramen will be available each week, including a vegetarian option. Hopscotch did a soft launch of the ramen night last week — this week’s November 2 official debut coincides, conveniently, with Art Murmur. On the menu this time around (for $9 a bowl): spicy miso braised pork ramen (with a miso broth), pork belly chashu ramen (soy-based broth), and a vegetarian ramen topped with bean sprouts (also a soy-based broth). There will also be shiitake-and-scallop harumaki (spring rolls).

4) Berkeleyside reports that Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project has chosen a new director: veteran journalist Katrina Heron. Heron will head up the umbrella organization (formerly called the Chez Panisse Foundation) that oversees a slew of “edible education” initiatives, including the much-lauded garden and kitchen program at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. The Berkeleyside story notes that a big focus of Heron’s job will be developing the organization’s website, which already serves as a resource for educators all over the country.

5) Grilled cheese lovers and fans of gluten-free food have a reason to band together this Friday night, November 2, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Old Oakland’s Umami Mart (815 Broadway). The purveyor of fancy Japanese drinkware will be hosting a grilled cheese sandwich pop-up featuring gluten-free (cornbread-based) sandwiches by Lizzy Boelter — she of delicious-gluten-free-fried-chicken fame. Of note: Boelter actually makes her own American cheese! Also, there will be kimchi and a selection of the little Korean side dishes known as banchan, because why not?

An earlier poultry butchery class (via Facebook).
  • An earlier poultry butchery class (via Facebook).
6) The Local Butcher Shop (1600 Shattuck Ave.), whose sandwiches I reviewed this week (spoiler alert: they’re good), has been hosting a variety of cooking and butchery classes. Coming up this Sunday, November 4, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., is a class on holiday cooking: how to roast the perfect beef, duck, or turkey — just in time for Thanksgiving. The cost of the class is $65 a person and includes three pounds of roast beef for each participant to take home. Call the shop (510-845-6328) to sign up.

7) Yesterday, October 30, was the last night of service at Hudson (5356 College Ave.). The restaurant was recently purchased by San Francisco-based A16, which should open its new Rockridge branch early next year.

8) Emeryville’s Honor Bar (1411 Powell St.) has changed its name to Honor Kitchen & Cocktails (apparently to avoid confusion with another Honor Bar in Beverly Hills). That is all.

9) Earlier this year What the Fork reported on some early screenings of the urban farming documentary Edible City, which features several East Bay farms and activists. The film just had its official launch — you can watch the entire 70-minute documentary here.

10) Finally, in case you missed my posts on the grocery store coming to West Oakland and on where to buy pan de muerto for El Día de los Muertos, feel free to take a look-see.

Got tips or suggestions? Email me at Luke (dot) Tsai (at) EastBayExpress (dot) com. Otherwise, keep in touch by following me on Twitter @theluketsai, or simply by posting a comment. I'll read ‘em all.

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