Bites: Marufuku Ramen to Temescal, L’acajou opens in Oakland, TCHO bought by company that makes Pocky

Hakata DX ramen at Marufuku Ramen. Photo: Angie L./Yelp

MARUFUKU RAMEN TO TELEGRAPH Will there be a month where we don’t have any East Bay ramen news to report? So far, the answer is a resounding no — ramen shops continue to flourish in these parts. Just last week, Temescal Telegraph Business Improvement District shared word with us that the former Hina Yakitori spot on Telegraph Avenue is set to become the new outpost for San Francisco’s Marufuku Ramen’s first East Bay venture. As is de rigueur, Marufuku — which has garnered a fanbase since opening in SF’s Japantown last year — specializes in Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen, with thin, straight noodles in a rich, milky pork bone broth that the restaurant says is prepared for more than 20 hours. Marufuku also serves versions of ramen made with paitan, or a silky white broth made with chicken bones, as well as rice bowls, starters like takoyaki (fried octopus balls) and karaage (fried chicken), beer and sake. The restaurant’s grand opening will be on Feb. 28. Marufuku Ramen will be at 4828 Telegraph Ave. (between 48th and 49th), Oakland

L’acajou Bakery and Café in Oakland. Photo: Matthew Roder

L’ACAJOU, OAKLAND HILLS EDITION Another San Francisco transplant has made its way to Oakland. L’acajou Bakery and Café —which first opened in SOMA in 2010 and has become well-loved by locals for its breakfast bites, sandwiches, salads, soups and baked goods — has landed in the Oakland Hills. The new Woodminster Plaza location opened this week, on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Owner Matthew Roder told Nosh that his first few days at the new spot will be a soft run — with limited hours from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. for coffee and pastry service. The grand opening will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, when L’acajou will treat guests to free drinks, live music by Anthony Delaney jazz trio and a preview of dishes from its menu, including slider versions of its burger, tri-tip steak sandwich and cheddar chipotle biscuit sandwich. L’acajou’s regular hours will start on Sunday, Feb. 25, when it will be open for breakfast and lunch: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekends;  7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; closed on Mondays. L’acajou Bakery and Café, 5020 Woodminster Lane (near Mountain), Oakland

AUTHENTIC IS CLOSED (FOR NOW) At the end of January, a note was posted on the door at Jack London Square’s six-year-old Authentic Bagel Company (463 2nd St.) explaining the bagel shop and wholesale business would be temporarily closed for a “one month breather.” Owner Jason Scott wrote that the plan is to “take the next month to process what we have learned and applies those lessons to the decision that lyes [sic, perhaps, with pun intended?] ahead …” That month is almost up, but for now, the fate of Authentic has not yet been determined. Scott opened the business with his brother Mark, but now runs Authentic by himself and that burden has taken a toll on him. He’s currently looking for investors to help keep Authentic alive.

A selection of TCHO’s flavored chocolate bars at its factory retail store in Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han

TCHO SOLD TO JAPANESE FOOD GIANT Berkeley-based craft chocolate company TCHO has just been purchased by 100-year-old Japanese company, Ezaki Glico Co. Ltd., maker of popular Japanese snacks Pocky, Pejoy and Pretz. TCHO was originally founded in 2005 in San Francisco, moving to Berkeley in 2014, after signing a 12-year-lease at the Marchant Building on San Pablo Avenue. Last fall, the company, opened its factory to public tours for the first time in the new building. Although TCHO is a tiny company (with just 37 employees), since 2013, it has been majority-owned by Emil Capital Partners, a private U.S. investment arm for European consumer goods distribution company, Tengelmann Group. Now, Japanese mega food corp, Glico will claim ownership. The original press release from Glico said the company targeted TCHO with hopes to strengthen its position in the premium chocolate world, which it believes is a growing market. But what’s in it for TCHO? According to CEO, Marcel Bens, it means the company will have more resources, a global online presence and grow in every way it would have, but at a faster rate. A representative for TCHO said that the company will remain “deeply rooted in Berkeley and deeply committed to its core philosophy” of ethical sourcing, working with farmers and cooperatives to create high-quality chocolate. The deal is set to close this week, but TCHO was unable to disclose the financial details of the sale. Nor was it able to answer my most pressing question: Will TCHO Pockys be a thing?!


GLUTEN-FREE PIZZA DAY Everyone I know who’s gone gluten-free says that one of the hardest foods to give up is pizza. Sure, there are cauliflower crusts and other dough alternatives that eschew wheat flour, but when you’re craving a real-deal pizza, the gluten-free options don’t often meet expectations. Lucia’s in Berkeley has found a magic recipe for gluten-free pizza that could possibly pass as standard pizza. In fact, Lucia’s owner Steve Dumain says some gluten-sensitive customers assume they’ve been given the wrong order when they get their gluten-free pie.

Not convinced? Dumain himself has celiac disease, so he has a lot invested in making a really good product. Lucia’s, which sources many of its ingredients locally or from Italy, works with a mill in Naples, Italy to make de-glutenized wheat flour. The method, called Swiss Process, Dumain said, is the same one used to decaffeinate coffee; so it’s an actual wheat dough, sans gluten.

On March 1, Lucia’s will host its first annual Gluten-Free Neapolitan Pizza Day, when every single pie made at the restaurant will be entirely sans gluten. For this special event, Lucia’s pizzaiolo Ernesto Palmieri will be joined by his sister, Sara Palmieri, a world champion gluten-free pizza maker from Naples, Italy. Lucia’s, 2016 Shattuck Ave. (near University), Berkeley

The downtown Berkeley brunch tour will pass through Saha in Berkeley, where guests will sample shakshuka (seen above) or Yemeni brunch. Photo: Saha Berkeley

DOWNTOWN BRUNCH BUNCH The Downtown Berkeley Association is joining forces with popular Bay Area food tour company, Edible Excursions for a special brunch tour of downtown Berkeley. Starting at the end of March and taking place weekly, Edible Excursions’ “epicurean concierges” will lead food-filled tours that stop at several restaurants that might not yet be on your brunch radar. At each spot, attendees will meet and hear stories from local chefs and restaurateurs, and most importantly, sample a wide variety of signature dishes and drinks. The tour starts at the BAMPFA’s Babette Café for housemade baked goods, then heads to PIQ Bakery for arancini and brunch pizza, Gather for burgers, Saha for Yemeni brunch and shakshuka and Gio’s Pizza and Bocce for an amaro cocktail and desserts. The tours will take place on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning on March 25. Tickets are $110 (gratuity not included) and will be available via Edible Excursions starting March 7.

EAST BAY REPRESENTS AMONG JAMES BEARD SEMI-FINALISTS The 2018 James Beard Semi-Finalists were announced last week and there were four East Bay nominees amongst the distinguished bunch: Great China in Berkeley for Outstanding Wine Program; Lance Winters of St. George Spirits in Alameda for Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Professional; Reem Assil of Reem’s California and Preeti Mistry of now-closed Juhu Beach Club for Best Chef: West. The semifinalists were selected from a list of over 20,000 entries for the awards. The final list of award nominees will be announced March 14 and the winners will be named at the James Beard Awards gala on May 7 in Chicago.