Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Splash Pad Pod, Nido, and the Return of Sochia Kojima

By Luke Tsai
Wed, Sep 19, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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

1) This weekend the fourth annual Eat Real Festival hits Jack London Square with a lineup of over sixty food vendors and a slew of assorted contests and chef demos. Yesterday, I previewed a few of this year’s highlights, but I think this bit of news bears repeating: The festival will mark the debut of Youki, an all-organic ramen venture from Sachio Kojima, the San Francisco sushi legend. From what I can gather, in the Nineties and early Aughts, when Kojima was behind the counter at his first restaurant, Kabuto A&S, he was maybe the most well-respected sushi chef in the city. More recently, Kojima did a short stint at Hecho (the sushi-and-tequila joint near Union Square), but it looks like ramen is his new thing. No word yet on whether Youki will morph into a brick-and-mortar operation.

Vesta Flatbread: no longer Thursday nights at the Splash Pad (via Facebook).
  • Vesta Flatbread: no longer available Thursday nights at the Splash Pad (via Facebook).
2) A solitary Tweet was about the only announcement to mark the end of the Splash Pad Pod, one of several food pods that launched earlier this year under Oakland’s interim mobile food policy. The Thursday night pod, organized by Vesta Flatbread’s Traci Prendergast and Jenya Chernoff, just never seemed to take off, despite what seemed like a promising location across the street from the Grand Lake Theater. (I probably went a half a dozen times, and there were never many customers.) Prendergast told me she still thinks the location has promise, but maybe with the addition of music and more trucks — not with two or three trucks and nothing else going on, as had been the case.

3) Nido, a new farm-to-table Mexican restaurant coming to the Jack London Square area (444 Oak St.), has started an ambitious Kickstarter campaign to raise money to complete the build-out of the space and to help pay for staffing — that $16,500 target is no chump change. Nido is aiming to open in October.

4) Also on Kickstarter: Farley’s East has two more days to reach its fundraising target to pay for a parklet that will be built in front of the cafe. Parklet features will include a stand-up coffee bar, benches made of recycled wood, and a vertical bike rack. As I type this, the campaign is only about $800 short of its $5,000 goal.

Asha Tea House (via Facebook).
  • Asha Tea House (via Facebook).
5) Berkeleyside has a short piece on Asha Tea House (2086 University Ave.), now officially open after a soft launch in July. They’ve got an appealing-looking menu, a mix of fun Taiwan-style boba teas, fruit teas (made from fresh fruit purees), and higher-end loose leaf teas served by the pot.

6) Grub Street notes that the opening of the new Walnut Creek location of Chick-fil-A has been delayed to October 25. Gay marriage supporters are going ahead with plans to stage a peaceful protest on opening day. Edit: Not sure what bearing today's Chick-fil-A news will have on these plans.

7) Oakland North has a story on Mandela Marketplace director and West Oakland food advocate Dana Harvey, who was recently honored at the White House for being a “Champion of Change.”

8) Finally, in case you missed it, check out my story about the Butcher’s Guild Retreat, which kicks off today in Oakland.

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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