Author Archives: Kate Williams

Bites: Shiba Ramen, KoJa Kitchen to Public Market

Emeryville Public Market where a new Off The Grid food truck market will launch on Aug. 23. Photo:  Public Market Emeryville
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Openings, closings

EMERYVILLE PUBLIC MARKET TO GAIN TWO NEW RESTAURANTS Emeryville’s Public Market is about to get even more interesting, food-wise. The shopping and dining center added a full line-up of food trucks earlier this year, which will soon be joined by two new restaurants in the market hall portion of the building: Shiba Ramen and KoJa Kitchen. We brought you news of the Shiba Ramen project last week; the fast-casual ramen shop is the brainchild of two ex-chemists who plan on bringing Japanese style service and noodle soups to the neighborhood. KoJa Kitchen will be the second brick-and-mortar location for the Korean-Japanese fusion food truck of the same name. (Its first location is at 2995 Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley.) “We’re excited to welcome Koja Kitchen and Shiba Ramen to Public Market Emeryville,” said City Center Realty Partners’ Co-Founder Mark Stefan in a prepared statement. “They embody our vision for the new Food Hall — unique purveyors who want to be part of the community.” Shiba Ramen and KoJa Kitchen are both part of a larger renovation project. This first phase includes adding food stalls and reconditioning the existing structure. The second phase of the project, expected to wrap up by this summer, includes installing a living wall, replacing the ball-pit with a new children’s play area, upgrading the entries, and putting up local artwork. Public Market Emeryville is at 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville. Connect with Shiba Ramen on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Connect with KoJa Kitchen on Facebook and Twitter.Continue reading »

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Bites: The Libertine to open, BUILD Pizzeria closed

The Libertine bar is replacing Kingman's Lucky Lounge on Grand Avenue. Photo: The Libertine
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Openings, closings…

THE LIBERTINE BAR HEADED TO GRAND LAKE A new bar, The Libertine, is set to take the place of Kingman’s Lucky Lounge at 3332 Grand Ave. New owner Aric Yeverino purchased the bar earlier this year, but Kingman’s continued operating until April 12. As of this week, Yeverino has taken down the Lucky sign and begun renovations to change bring the bar up to code. He has posted images on his Instagram feed indicating that the new liquor license is active, so the switch should be fairly speedy. Yeverino is also the owner of the popular Hayward dive bar The Dirty Bird. The Libertine will be at 3332 Grand Ave. (near Mandana Boulevard), Oakland. Connect with the bar on Facebook.Continue reading »

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Imm Thai a welcome addition to University Avenue

Duck Noodle Soup from Imm Thai. Photo: Kate Williams
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It’s all about the fish sauce.

The fermented, salty sauce seems almost ubiquitous now, but it wasn’t so long ago that one had to hunt through the aisles of Asian supermarkets to find a bottle. Ocean-rich umami and unapologetically funky, it is today the secret ingredient, not only in Southeast Asian cuisine, but in trendy restaurant dishes and blogger recipes alike.

There are several Thai and Southeast Asian restaurants across the Bay embracing the call of fish sauce funk, but these restaurants typically fall into two camps: trendy chef-focused spots looking for their next James Beard Award or a nondescript restaurant with two menus, one for Americans and one for Thais. You likely can’t bring your great aunt Mildred to either one.

These restaurants stand in distinct contrast to those generic, take-out-centric joints that populate student-heavy areas like Downtown Berkeley and serve overly sweet bowls of curry without a whiff of fermented fish. There hasn’t, until recently, been a restaurant that successfully bridges the gap between the funky and the generic. Enter Imm Thai. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Millennium on for Rockridge, Vampire Penguin

The Halo-Halo. Photo: Vampire Penguin
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Openings, closings…

VAMPIRE PENGUIN HAS THE GREEN LIGHT Berkeley will soon have its own shaved ice restaurant. We brought you news about Vampire Penguin, the popular Sacramento-based Taiwanese dessert restaurant, last fall. The restaurant now has its hands on a building permit, and manager Anthony Bai hopes to be open by mid-May. Vampire Penguin specializes in gourmet shaved ice — made primarily of fruit concentrate, sugar and non-dairy cream — with a variety of flavors and toppings like fruit, oats, taro, condensed milk, candies and other treats. It’s a potent combination; one Sacramento news outlet named the product, also known as “shaved snow,” the “best mouthgasam” in the city. Vampire Penguin will be at 2575 Telegraph Ave. (at Parker Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.Continue reading »

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Kite Hill reinvents non-dairy cheese from ground up

Kite Hill's Soft Ripe cheese. Photo: Kate Williams
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The last time I ate dairy-free cheese, I was in college and experimenting with a vegan diet. At the cafeteria salad bar, there was a giant tub of Tofutti, ready for slathering over bagels and 9-grain toast. It wasn’t exactly delicious, but it was dairy-free.

Today, times have changed. An abundance of non-dairy products have emerged that make use of far more flavorful ingredients like cashews, coconuts and almonds. Two pioneering non-dairy cheese companies are headquartered in the Bay Area, one of which, Kite Hill, is in Hayward. (The other is the Fairfax-based Miyoko’s Kitchen.)

Kite Hill is currently producing a line of six cheeses, all made from almond milk. There’s a ricotta, two flavors of cream cheese (plain and chive), and three “artisanal” cheeses: two chèvre-like Soft Fresh cheeses (plain and truffle-dill-chive) and one Soft Ripened cheese with a soft bloomy rind, a la Brie or Camembert.

Nosh took a tour of Kite Hill’s creamery to learn more about what distinguishes its product, and, of course, to have a taste of the cheese itself. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Continental Club, Wolfhound Bar, more

West Oakland's Continental Club has a new owner, and may be re-opening its doors soon. Photo: Google maps
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Openings, closings

CONTINENTAL CLUB COULD BE GETTING A FRESH START The Continental Club, an iconic West Oakland music venue and comedy club, was once host to countless jazz and blues stars in the 1960s. It was originally opened as a gumbo restaurant in 1947 by owners Curtis and Ross Christy; by the 1950s, the brothers had added a live music component to the restaurant, calling it Ramboogie. In 1961, the duo renovated and expanded the club. From then on, the space was known as the Continental Club. Situated on 12th Street in the Prescott neighborhood of West Oakland, the club fell onto hard times in the 1970s and never seemed to recover. Comedian Pharaoh bought the club in 2010, but shuttered it a few years later. Now, it seems that the club has changed hands once again. New owner Magnolia Entertainment has applied for a liquor license for an eating establishment, which is now pending. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more. The Continental Club is at 1658 12th St. (at Campbell Street), Oakland.Continue reading »

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Philz Coffee on College Avenue opens today

Philz on College Avenue. Photo: Kate Williams
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The third East Bay location of Philz Coffee is officially open for business. The College Avenue location in the new Safeway complex threw a soft opening party Tuesday as a welcoming gesture to the neighborhood, with the full management staff, including founder Phil Jaber, in attendance.

Philz, founded in 2003, has been opening new locations at a rapid clip over the past year; it opened on Gilman Street last summer and it held a grand opening for a Redwood City location last month. And, according to TechCrunch, Philz recently closed on $15 million in funding in order to expand operations beyond California. CEO Jacob Jaber told TechCrunch that he plans to open at least 10 more locations nationwide by the end of the year.

The College Avenue Philz joins the Gourmet Ghetto and Gilman District shops in the East Bay. It is part of the new Safeway shopping complex, and will soon be joined by C.R.E.AM., the popular cookie and ice cream shop. … Continue reading »

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Share your photos with NOSH on Instagram

Strawberries. Photo: Kate Williams
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We’ve always enjoyed seeing and sharing your photos of Berkeley through our Berkeleyside Flickr page. Photography is such an important part of every story — especially when it comes to food. That’s why we’re catching up with the times by officially launching our NOSH Instagram, @EastBayNOSH. Follow us to find pictures of all of the food and ingredients that make our East Bay home great.

We want to share your photos, too. Each week, we’ll share a theme with our followers. Tag us with the hashtag #ebnosh and the theme of the week, and we’ll repost our favorite snaps. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Newberry Market to Uptown Station, more

A rendering of Newberry Market & Deli, the first tenant to sign on to open in the renovated Sears Building in Uptown Oakland, which developers Lane Partners hope to see transformed into a foodie and tech hub for the Millennial generation. Rendering: Steelblue
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Openings, closings…

NEWBERRY MARKET & DELI TO UPTOWN STATION The first tenant to sign on to the ambitious Uptown Station project in the old Sears building above Oakland’s 19th Street BART station is upscale grocery store Newberry Market & Deli, reports Inside Scoop. The 20,000-square foot store will take its cues from artisanal markets such as Bi-Rite and Market Hall, and will offer everything from organic produce and grocery staples to hot and cold prepared items such as sandwiches, salads, rotisserie meats, and soups. Newberry Market also plans to have a a full-service butcher shop, charcuterie and cheese counter, a café, flower shop, and grab-and-go pizza by the slice. Even with all of these amenities, owners Ann Thai and Loren Goodwin hope to keep the prices “affordable and accessible.” Newberry Market, named after the old Newberry’s department store that operated next door many years ago, will be the anchor tenant in the ground floor food hall, which developers Lane Partners hope to fill with other niche food  and tech businesses and turn into a type of hip Ferry Building for the Millennial generation. Thai and Goodwin hope to open the market in fall 2016. Newberry Market will be at 1954 Telegraph Ave. (at 19th Street), Oakland.Continue reading »

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NOSH hot neighborhood guide: West Oakland

Fresh produce at the Mandela Foods Cooperative
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The best part of the East Bay food boom is that it is happening all over the place, not just in already popular neighborhoods like Oakland’s Temescal or Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. In that spirit, we are launching a new series on NOSH focused on specific neighborhoods in the East Bay. Think of it as your own online neighborhood food tour. We start in West Oakland.

Stretching from Interstate 580 in the north down towards Jack London Square in the south, West Oakland is a sprawling neighborhood. But, despite its size, the largely residential area has historically lacked food options. A few organizations and developers are raising funds and writing plans for full-service grocery stores in the area, but there are several smaller changes taking place. Small restaurants and cafés have slowly been opening up alongside established diners, taquerias, and fried fish joints. Some offer re-imagined versions of the area’s historic soul food cuisine, while others bring new ideas and flavors. Most operate in harmony with the diverse neighborhood, celebrating the homey goodness that is Oakland cuisine. Don’t know where to pop in for a bite in West Oakland? Here are our picks. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Sprouts to Oakland, water restrictions, more

Sprouts Market. Photo: Sprouts
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Openings, closings…

SPROUTS MARKET HEADED TO OAKLAND While protests continue over a potential Sprouts Farmers Market in University Village in Albany (near the contested Gill Tract research field), the grocery store has quietly revealed plans for a location at 3001 Broadway, at the bottom of Pill Hill, in Oakland. Sprouts’ ABC license is pending, and its retail brokerage firm, Lockehouse, has put together a development plan for the space. The development looks like it will also include additional retail tenants. The proposal emphasizes the higher incomes of potential customers living in the Oakland Hills and Lakeshore neighborhoods, as well as the convenience to both the Alta Bates and Kaiser buildings. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as the project develops. Oakland’s Sprouts Farmers Market will be at 3001 Broadway (at 30th Street), Oakland.Continue reading »

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Plum Bar + Restaurant works best as a cocktail spot

Oak Barrel-Aged Negron at Plum Bar + Restaurant. Photo: Kate Williams
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Ten or 15 years ago, it may have been hard to imagine sitting down for a nice dinner at a small, bare wooden table in a cacophonous room. A nice dinner meant spacious tables, white tablecloths, and perhaps a triple-digit bill to match. Today, often the only thing separating a “nice” dinner from a casual one is the price. Yes, yes, there are, of course, Bay Area restaurants that retain the high-end, white tablecloth concept; and yes, yes, there are even restaurants that are returning to formal service after years of bare wood and communal tables. But, when it comes to trending, of-the-moment dining rooms, the formal ones are still in the minority.

I want to be clear — I have little problem with this blurring of the casual-formal divide. It can be done well. Restaurants like Gather, Camino, and Shakewell all manage to hit that sweet spot. At some point, however, the blurriness can result in a lost identity. Here is where Plum Bar + Restaurant fits in. … Continue reading »

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Recipe: Greek-style yogurt with cardamom mango

finished-yogurt-2
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By Kate Williams/Bay Area Bites

Single-serve Greek yogurt cups are doing big business. A glance at their growing real estate in the dairy aisle says plenty about the snack’s growing popularity. Most yogurt companies tout their product’s healthfulness, but they gloss over the added sugars, flavorings, dyes and binders used to make their yogurt shelf-stable and kid-friendly. That’s not exactly what I call health food.

Still, I see the food’s appeal — colorful, fun, and protein-packed, one single cup has enough nutrient heft to get me through an afternoon lull. But the truth is, it is easy to do better, much better, by making yogurt at home. It requires patience, about 24 hours of it, but most of the time is hands-off. Plus, I can control the quality and fat content of the milk, as well as the sugar content of the fruit. I call it a win-win-win. … Continue reading »

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