Bites: Mochi muffin makers take on brunch, Utzutzu brings omakase to Alameda

Brunch at Berkeley’s Third Culture Bakery. Photo: Third Culture Bakery/Instagram

MOCHI BRUNCH SERIES Fans of Third Culture Bakery mochi muffins and its other Asian-inflected treats will want to take note — the Berkeley-based bakery will be hosting a special brunch series in its new West Berkeley digs on Eighth Street. The five-course brunch will be a family-style, sit-down affair with Third Culture co-owners Sam Butarbutar and Wenter Shyu, featuring a DIY mimosa bar and a mix of both sweet and savory dishes, including new takes on its most popular gluten-free, rice-based pastry and a few of their childhood favorites. Guests will chow down on mochi muffin waffles, mochi takoyaki and mochi muffin bread pudding, as well as Taiwanese green onion pancakes and Indonesian beef rendang. The brunch series will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends starting on May 12 through June 10. Tickets are $42. Third Culture Bakery, 2701 Eighth St. (at Carleton), Berkeley

ALAMEDA OMAKASE Back in January, we heard word that Chikara Ono, owner-chef of B-Dama and Delage was opening up a new sushi restaurant in Alameda, taking the spot of acclaimed omakase spot, Yume. Ono’s new restaurant, called Utzutzu, softly opened a few days ago. The seven-seat restaurant offers an okimari (set) meal for $100, and as at Delage, sushi takes the starring role here. But as Ono told Nosh earlier this year, Utzutzu offers “more traditional Japanese-style food.” Aside from two chef’s choice courses of sushi, the soft opening menu includes a homemade organic tofu served with wasabi, a salad with umeboshi (Japanese plum) vinaigrette, tsukemono (Japanese pickles), grilled clam, miso soup and a dessert. Utzutzu is offering a special pre-opening menu for $80, but seatings for those days have already been claimed. You may want to jump on making reservations for this spot; we have a feeling it’ll soon be one of the hottest new spots in the East Bay. Utzutzu, 1428 Park St. (at Alameda), Alameda

UPDATE ON SOBO RAMEN IN BERKELEY Last September, Nosh reported that Oakland’s SOBO Ramen would be opening a new location in the StoneFire building on University Avenue in downtown Berkeley. We now have a couple more details about this second outpost. Owner Stella Loi is finalizing last details, including working on a mural and other design aspects with local artists, but one thing has definitely been settled — it will not be called SOBO. Loi’s new Berkeley restaurant will open as Ramen Authority, and although she had previously told Nosh it would be similar to her Old Oakland ramen shop, she hinted in a recent email to expect something totally new and one-of-a-kind at Ramen Authority. If all goes as planned, Ramen Authority will open as soon as the first week of May.

Whatever the final concept, the StoneFire landlords have high hopes for their new tenants. AJ Schrader of Retail West, who along with Lori Rosenthal of Gordon Commercial were brokers for SOBO’s new location, told Nosh, “The building owners were very careful in choosing a successful local group with a concept that will thrive in the competitive food landscape in downtown Berkeley. SOBO has become a popular draw in Oakland, in a low profile location on the edge of downtown. This next generation of ramen offering from Stella and her team will be like nothing else in downtown Berkeley.” Ramen Authority will be at StoneFire, 2010 Milvia St. (at University), Berkeley


WHAT’S THE 310? Aaron Fong, the founder of roving burger joint 310 Eatery just opened a permanent location in Albany. Coincidentally, this very spot on San Pablo Avenue was where Fong first got his feet wet in the burger biz, while working as a server at Grazzy Burgers, the former restaurant that closed this March. Following his time at Grazzy, he launched 310 Eatery in downtown Walnut Creek in 2014, specializing in loaded burgers, sandwiches and fries and other comfort foods inspired by Los Angeles street food. After three location changes in Walnut Creek and temporary “detours” at Oakland’s Mad Oak in 2016 and within Berkeley’s Spat’s late last year, Fong says he’s ready to make roots in Albany. Aside from towering beef burgers, the inventive 310 menu includes sandwiches like a soft shell crab po’boy, roast duck and pork belly sliders and a fried chicken sandwich that pays homage to Temescal’s Bakesale Betty. The new 310 also boasts a rotating craft beer program, and has plans to serve breakfast starting in June. The 310 Eatery, 747 San Pablo Ave. (between Portland and Washington), Albany

BRIEF BELOTTI HIATUS Oakland pasta heaven, aka Belotti Ristorante on College Avenue in Rockridge, is going on a short hiatus next month for its annual mid-year break. In a newsletter sent earlier this week, chef-owner Michele Belotti said that he plans to close the restaurant a little earlier this year, from May 26 until June 7, due to his participation in an Italian reality television show this month. Belotti is mentoring young local chefs on Italian cooking for the show and will need a little break, which he’ll also extend to his restaurant staff. You will still be able to get your agnolotti, casoncelli and other fresh pastas by visiting his Piedmont Avenue pasta shop, Belotti Bottega, which will remain open during that time. Belotti Bottega, 4001 B Piedmont Ave. (at 41st), Oakland

The pozole at Camino in Oakland. Photo: Camino/Facebook

MONDAY MEALS Mondays can be a real drag, but a few restaurants are giving East Bay diners tasty reasons to look forward to the most maligned day of the week. Here are three in Oakland worth checking out:

At Hopscotch in Uptown, the restaurant offers an abbreviated brunch menu, featuring the most popular dishes from its weekend menu, on Mondays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Industry Brunch is an opportunity for those who work on the weekends (or maybe, those who are lucky to have Mondays off) to get a taste of the leisurely brunch life too. Hopscotch, 1915 San Pablo Ave. (between 19th and Thomas L Berkley), Oakland

Over at Sidebar in Grand Lake, Mondays are for mussel lovers. Starting at 5 p.m., the restaurant makes three variations of the shellfish, including the classic French bistro rendition — made with a savory broth featuring shallots, tarragon, cream and anise-flavored Pernod — served with crispy frites. Sidebar, 542 Grand Ave. (between Euclid and MacArthur), Oakland

Mondays have always been special days at Camino in Grand Lake, the day when it offers multi-course dinners featuring a special dish (e.g. Dungeness crab, steak) that changes with the season. The restaurant’s newest Monday menu star is pozole. Camino’s version of the traditional hominy-based Mexican stew is hearty, rustic and extravagant, made with grilled duck, pig trotters, cabbage, radishes, green garlic, chicharrones and pickled chiles. The meal starts with a grilled artichoke, cauliflower and daikon salad with fresh turmeric and ends with burnt almond meringue with Valencia orange sorbet and sparkling wine. The whole shebang will set you back $42. Pozole Mondays are ongoing through May. One last thing to note about Camino: The restaurant turns 10-years-old in May and will be having two anniversary bashes (a cocktail party on May 18 and a ticketed dinner party on May 19) to celebrate.  Camino, 3917 Grand Ave. (between Sunny Slope and Jean), Oakland