Bites: PinkBox Doughnuts and Famous Bao to downtown Berkeley, a ramen shop opens in Subway

Las Vegas chain PinkBox Doughnuts will be opening a location in downtown Berkeley. Photo: PinkBox Doughnuts

[Updated Feb. 15] THINK PINK After a long hiatus, Berkeley donut pop-up Bomba Doughnuts announced via Instagram that it will be opening a Berkeley location of Las Vegas’ donut shop, PinkBox Doughnuts. Bomba was a side project run by Bill Armanino, Jr., which he started in July 2016, selling gourmet donuts and cronuts out of The Sandwich Spot, the restaurant he co-ran with his sister in downtown Berkeley. When the Sandwich Spot closed in May, Armanino told Nosh that he planned to keep Bomba going on the pop-up and food truck circuit, but has been pretty quiet since then. Turns out plans changed a bit. PinkBox is a business owned by Armanino’s family in Nevada, and this will be the first California outpost. Armanino said he’ll have more details to share in the coming weeks. PinkBox Doughnuts will be at 2319 Shattuck Ave. (at Bancroft), Berkeley

Nichi Ramen shares a space with Subway in Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han

SUBWAY RAMEN Last week, a new Berkeley ramen shop soft opened inside a Subway in Berkeley. No, not the Berkeley BART station, but an actual Subway sandwich shop, located steps from the Cal campus, on Bancroft Way at Telegraph Avenue. The corner space is shared by the two restaurants, with Subway on the right and Nichi on the left. The Daily Cal reported on Feb. 8 that Nichi Ramen was opened by the people behind Espresso Roma, which runs several cafés and restaurants in the area. This is Espresso Roma’s first restaurant specializing in Asian food, which owner Cia Moaven told The Daily Cal, was a concept meant to appeal to “Berkeley’s ‘growing Asian population.'”

We stopped in today to check out Nichi but it wasn’t open and there were no signs explaining hours when it might be (The Daily Cal reports its grand opening day is Sunday, Feb. 18). A line of patrons snaked across the Nichi space to the Subway counter, making us wonder how the lines will form when the two businesses are open — and busy — at the same time.

Although it wasn’t open during our visit, Nichi’s barebones menu was up. It offers a tonkotsu ramen, topped with scallions, bamboo shoots and chasu pork ($5.95 for small, $8.95 for large). Sous vide organic local egg or additional chasu pork can also be added for an extra charge. To drink, Nichi serves barley tea. Nichi Ramen, 2490 Bancroft Way (between Telegraph and Dana), Berkeley


Famous Bao will open a second location in downtown Berkeley on Shattuck Avenue. Photo: Sarah Han

SECOND BAO Reader Sean Rouse tipped us off that Berkeley’s popular Chinese restaurant Famous Bao is about to open a second location downtown. It will take over the space previously occupied by Matt and Izzy’s, a sports bar that opened last spring but never seemed to find its footing. Famous Bao’s first location is in the Asian food mall on Durant Avenue in Southside. It was opened in 2016 by Cal alumnus Frances Sun, who wanted to bring Shaanxi-style dishes to Berkeley. Famous Bao has a good following with Cal students, especially amongst its Chinese international students who you’ll see enjoying hand-pulled noodles and iron pot dishes. Nosh spoke with Sun, who said that he plans to open the new location at the end of the month or in early March, at the latest. The space is currently undergoing minor remodeling and he will start training staff next week. Sun said that the new location will carry its most popular dishes, but to expect some new menu items at the downtown spot. Famous Bao will be at 2116 Shattuck Ave. (between Addison and Center), Berkeley

Shah’s Indian Cuisine is one of three halal temporary pop-up spots inside the ASUC Student Union building at UC Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han

KEEP IT POPPIN’ Three new halal pop-up eateries opened this month on the Cal campus. Now open in the ASUC Student Union are Fusion Fresh Café (Mediterranean), Shah’s Indian Cuisine and Star Ginger (Asian-fusion). All three restaurants are run by Live & Love Halal, a family-run business which has operated halal food carts and food trucks in New York and at UC Davis. Every item on the menu at the trio of pop-ups is 100% halal-certified, meaning they were prepared in ways permitted under Islamic law. The three eateries are part of the Student Union’s “What’s Poppin'” series, which invites different pop-ups to set up for a temporary period. Live & Love Halal’s pop-ups will be open until March 2, when a new pop-up will take over. ASUC Student Union, UC Berkeley, 2495 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

AUGIE’S OPENING DELAYED We got last-minute word from owner Lex Gopnik-Lewinski that Augie’s Montreal Deli will not be opening on Valentine’s Day as planned due to construction delays. The grand opening has been pushed back to Saturday, Feb. 17, but there will be a preview opening from 3-9 p.m. for those of you who can’t wait those four extra days. Augie’s Montreal Deli will be at 875 Potter St. (near 7th St.) Berkeley