Update: This article was updated on June 13 to correct information about the number of Marugame restaurants. We originally said there were 120 restaurants in 12 countries. The restaurant, through its publicist, said it is not ready to discuss the details of its Berkeley location at this time.
MADE-TO-ORDER UDON TO DOWNTOWN BERKELEY Well, at least it’s not more ramen… A sign for a proposed project at 48 Shattuck Sq. announces that “Muragame[sic] Udon USA LLC” is hoping to open a restaurant in the now closed Copy Central space in downtown Berkeley. Marugame Seimen is a chain udon and tempura restaurant run by parent company, Toridoll. Marugame originated in Japan, but now has 186 restaurants in 13 countries, including two locations in Honolulu, Hawaii (as Marukame Udon & Tempura with a “k”) and a pending restaurant in West Los Angeles, set to open this spring. Marugame is known for its made-to-order Sanuki udon, which is a style that originates in the Kagawa Prefecture and is probably the most popular type of udon in Japan. Featuring thick, handmade wheat-flour noodles, Sanuki udon at Japan’s Marugame locations can be enjoyed in five different ways: kake, or served in a hot broth; bukkake, or in a hot, thick broth; kamatama, or served hot with an egg on top and a dashi-shoyu to pour over and mix in; or cold with a dipping sauce. The offerings at Muragame Berkeley, however, will be different, but will retains the “cafeteria-style,” with diners moving down a line and telling staff behind a counter how they want their udon. When we called the phone number on the project proposal (the same number for its soon-to-open West LA location) we were told that if all goes well, Berkeley will enjoying Marugame udon by the end of this year. Marugame Udon & Tempura will be at 48 Shattuck Sq. (between Addison and University), Berkeley.
BERKELEY GETS TIMELESS Last week, Piedmont Avenue café Timeless Coffee posted an intriguing photo on Instagram. The image of “Coming Soon” signage on a storefront in Berkeley with the message, “Something is brewing. 😉” Timeless serves its own small-batch, sustainably grown coffees that it roasts in Oakland. Aside from its coffee, it’s a favorite among vegans (and non-vegans alike) for its 100% dairy-free baked goods, chocolates and soft serve. And now Berkeley will be getting its very own Timeless. Although the café is being a bit coy on its social media about its second location, several Berkeleyside readers have spotted it, including reader Michael Berne who eyed it while driving on College Avenue. The Berkeley Timeless Café will be at 2965 College Ave. in the former La PanotiQ Bakery Café space. Owner RJ Leimpeter told us that the café is “waiting on some info from the city of Berkeley,” and hope to open in the next few months. Timeless Coffee will be at 2965 College Ave. (near Ashby), Berkeley.
HAPPY BOY FARMS BENEFIT DINNER The torrential winter rains did a real number on Happy Boy Farms. The organic farm, based near Watsonville, lost almost half of its fields to flooding, which, according to the Chronicle, is equal to about $150,000 to $200,000 in crop sales. Happy Boy sells its produce at several Bay Area markets and farmers markets, as well as to local restaurants. When two executive chefs in Oakland heard about Happy Boy fundraising, they decided to step in to help. Craig DiFonzo of Lungomare and Lev Delany of Chop Bar are hosting a benefit dinner for Happy Boy Farms next Wednesday. The four-course, wine-paired dinner will be held at Lungomare, and will feature a bounty of Happy Boy produce. Tickets are $65 a person, and include a $10 gift certificate to Chop Bar. All proceeds will benefit Happy Boy Farms. The Happy Boy Farms Benefit Dinner takes place at Lungomare, 1 Broadway (at Water), Oakland on Wednesday, June 14, 6-9:30 p.m.
A LITTLE BIT OF “SOUEL” An update on a new restaurant that we left off of May’s restaurant openings/closings: Korean Souel BBQ. Found on the border of Berkeley and Oakland at 6400 Shattuck Ave., where the former BBQ Hut once stood, this casual Korean spot serves dishes that most K-food fans will recognize, such as bulgogi (beef and spicy pork) and kalbi plates, bibimbap, Korean fried chicken, kimchi pancakes and mandoo (dumplings). Entrees come with a simple iceberg lettuce salad (with your choice of ranch or thousand island dressing in squeeze bottles), rice and simple side dishes (We were given chapchae, or glass noodles, seasoned zucchini and sauteed fishcakes; we also asked for a side of kimchi, which is not on the menu.) Prices range from $7.99 to $16.99 for entrees; $8.99 to $11.99 for appetizers. We recommend the mandoo, which come eight to a plate and are perfectly pan-fried. Korean Souel BBQ is at 6400 Shattuck Ave. (at Alcatraz), Oakland.
THE WELL GRAND OPENING ON JUNE 10 Meanwhile in Temescal, The Well, a holistically minded café found within the East Bay Community Space is opening this weekend with a party. The free, family-friendly grand opening celebration takes place on Saturday, June 10 from 2-8 p.m. From 2-5 p.m., there will be herbal medicine workshops and tastings with local vendors like Feral Heart Farm, Phat Beets Youth Program, Living Vision Kitchen, Firefly Chocolates, Broth Baby and others. From 5-8 p.m., the festivities continue with live music by Ben Zappin Herbal Songs, FariShields and DJ Consuelo. The Well is at 5443 Telegraph St. (near 55th), Oakland.
JAMES BEARD BLENDED BURGER AT DRIP LINE This is the third year for the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project, a contest challenging chefs across the country to make their own signature “blended burger,” by mixing ground meat with chopped mushrooms. The point is for chefs to consider offering a healthier (fewer calories, less sodium) and more sustainable burger option on their menus. This year, the East Bay has only one participating restaurant: Drip Line in West Oakland, where chef Nora Dunning has created a Singapore-inspired burger, made with 60% grass-fed chuck and 40% roasted shiitake mushrooms. Dunning’s blended burger is then topped with arugula, cheddar and gruyere, pickles and a sambal aioli and served on a house-baked koji-brioche bun. If that sounds good to you, get thee to Drip Line before July 31 and vote for Dunning’s burger. Drip Line is at 1940 Union St. (at 21st), Oakland
NEGRONI WEEK Hey Campari lovers, we’re in the midst of Negroni Week (June 5-11). This boozy celebration of the cocktail made with Campari, gin and vermouth is technically a marketing campaign for Campari (of course) and “Imbibe Magazine,” but it also raises money for good causes, and is an excuse (as if you need one) for Negroni fans to get out and try different versions of the scarlet-hued cocktail at many local bars and restaurants. In Berkeley, six bars are participating: Tupper & Reed, Revival Bar & Kitchen, East Bay Spice Company, Café Venezuela, Doc’s Refresher and Acme Bar and Company. And there are 28 participaing bars in Oakland. Each bar that signs up offers one or more variations of the Negroni during the week, and chooses to make a donation to one of these recommended charities. Find out more about Negroni Week, including what bars are participating, what they’re offering and to which charity they’re donating.