'Tis the season for restaurant openings and mutations.

Luck Restaurant has taken over the tiny, stylish space that housed the all-too-unlucky Bistro Viola and La Rue Brasserie and Bistro at 1428 San Pablo. Though Luck specializes in "pan-Asian" food -- Thai, Chinese, and Lao -- Vong, the new owner, is Lao, so you may want to try the lesser-known cuisine of his home country. Vong recommends such Lao dishes as the chicken and beef salads, gai kar pao (chicken with basil), and the pad lao (noodles). The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Legendary Palace has been tearing up the sidewalk on the corner of 7th and Webster streets in Oakland in preparation for its recent opening. According to the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, the new upscale eatery -- a new rival for Jade Villa and Restaurant Peony? -- specializes in Cantonese seafood and dim sum. Unfortunately, every time this reporter called the restaurant for more info (510-663-5645), someone would pick up the phone and set it on the countertop.

Vijaya Kumar recently opened up Athithi, a vegetarian Indian restaurant at 2525 Dwight in Berkeley. Athithi, Sanskrit for "revered guest," serves incredibly inexpensive fare from all over India, much of it bread- or grain-oriented -- dosas, parathas, idlis, tikkis. On Sundays Kumar offers a multicourse thali dinner for $7. See for more info.

Dragonfly Tea House, once merely Bison Brewing Company, has changed its name again to The TeaHouse at Bison Brewing. It's a cosmetic alteration only; owner Dan Del Grande and chef Geoffrey Deetz remain at the helm. The name change may reflect the expansion of the Telegraph Avenue brewpub's retail business. Trader Joe's has reportedly picked up Bison's Original Hard Ice Teas to sell in all its California stores.

The new owners of the year-old Banana Garden, a popular Singaporean, Malaysian, and Thai restaurant next to Richmond's Pacific East Mall, have changed the restaurant's name and slightly skewed its pan-Asian focus. With a Singaporean manager and Chinese chefs, Sentosa Cafe now claims to serve Singaporean, Thai, and Hong Kong-style dishes (catch that?). The owners have also reduced the prices and added karaoke.

Phoenix Next Door, the restaurant connected to Phoenix Pastaficio at 1786 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, is finally opening up for dinner in January. The popular lunchtime spot showcases Phoenix's homemade pastas. According to chef Steve Lucas, the restaurant will start with a Saturday-evening-only menu and eventually expand its schedule and offerings.


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