Bites: Nyum Bai named one of America’s top 10 new restaurants; La Cocina’s Cantina at Cal

Oakland Cambodian restaurant Nyum Bai has been racking up praise for its flavorful and fresh offerings since it opened its brick-and-mortar restaurant in Fruitvale earlier this year. Photo: Nyum Bai

NEW WAVE CAMBODIAN Chef Nite Yun has a lot to be excited about lately. In February, she opened her first brick-and-mortar restaurant, Nyum Bai in Fruitvale, and since then the chef has been garnering accolades for her flavorful, fresh and modern renditions of Cambodian cuisine inspired by Phnom Penh street food and ’60s-era Khmer rock-n-roll. In July, Yun was named a Rising Star chef by the San Francisco Chronicle and one of Eater’s Young Guns winners. And now this week, Nyum Bai got national attention when it was listed as #5 on Bon Appetit’s Hot Ten, America’s Best New Restaurants 2018Nyum Bai, 3340 E. 12th St., Ste 11, Oakland  

Musical Offering, a café and record store in Berkeley, is undergoing a series of changes. Last Wednesday, they changed out the counter and part of the flooring. Photo: Sarah Han

CLASSICAL MOVEMENTS Fans of Berkeley’s The Musical Offering may have noticed some changes have been afoot at the daytime café/classical music record store. Last Wednesday, the shop, located just across the street from UC Berkeley, closed early for a remodeling project. On Monday, just before Cal move-in day, it reopened with an updated front counter and new flooring. The old red counter, made from a harpsichord, had character, but the new countertop offers more space. This is just the first phase of changes to come at the 44-year-old institution, which is affiliated with the University Press Bookstore located just next door.

According to Musical Offering’s transition manager Deirdre Greene, the updates will not be too jarring for longtime customers, but the shop is hoping to invite a more diverse crowd with the refresh. “Right now, it has a reputation for being a café for retired professors,” Greene said, even though it’s a favorite spot for the Cal basketball team and many other Berkeley residents of all ages and backgrounds.

The new counter at Musical Offering Café. Photo: Sarah Han

Aside from physical changes, Greene said that the café will eventually be open later in the evening and will expand its food offerings beyond its regular soups, salads and sandwiches, with small plates from chef Erick Balbuena, who has been at Musical Offering for the past nine years and who specializes in cuisine inflected with Spanish flavors. Although the café has had a beer and wine license, it hasn’t really taken full advantage of it; Greene said that has changed. A new beer and wine menu will include local beers from Ocean View Brew Works, Faction and East Brother and a local chardonnay from Berkeley’s Broc Cellars (among some other non-local offerings). The next phase of remodeling will include a new bar to better serve and enjoy these libations.


Musical Offering hopes to become more of a community center, and will eventually host more events, including wine tastings, beer brewer talks and poetry series with local colleges and universities. The connection between the café and the University Press Bookstore will be even more apparent once a passageway between the two businesses is opened — but that’s still to come.

“It’s time for the business to change,” said Greene. “There’s a new sense of possibility.”
The Musical Offering Café, 2430 Bancroft Way (between Dana and Telegraph), Berkeley

Berkeley roaster-café Souvenir Coffee Co. will open a new location on Solano Avenue in Albany. Photo: Souvenir Coffee Co.

ALBANY GETS A SOUVENIR Berkeley’s Souvenir Coffee Co. is expanding with a new café on Solano Avenue in Albany. We spoke last week to owner Jeremy Bled, who said he’s taken over the space of the former Squeeze Juice Bar next door to Mr. Dewie’s Creamery and hopes to open this second café in mid to late September. The original Souvenir outpost is at 3084 Claremont Ave., and in comparison, the Albany location will be smaller, but with more room to hang out, partially due to the existing outdoor seating area in the front, as well as a new parklet that’s currently in the works and slated to open next spring. (The Claremont location is in the process of opening its back patio, but progress has been delayed.) The Solano Souvenir has a kitchen, which will allow for the café to do food preparation within, and Bled said that along with coffee, to expect pre-made sandwiches, salads, quiches, waffles and other food items on its menu. Souvenir Coffee will be at 1114 Solano Ave. (at Kains), Albany

Hang Truong, owner of Noodle Girl, is one of five women and POC-owned businesses at La Cocina’s Cantina at the ASUC Student Union. Photo: Noodle Girl

LA COCINA AT CAL After a successful run as a one-month pop-up at the ASUC Student Union, La Cocina vendors are back at Cal, but this time, they’ll be operating for at least two semesters. On Monday, five businesses (all owned by women and people of color) that are graduates of the San Francisco food business incubator opened at the student union. The line-up at La Cocina’s Cantina includes Old Damascus Fare, a family-run business specializing in Syrian food (that we recently featured on Nosh); A Girl Named Pinky, offering cakes and other baked goods; Noodle Girl, serving Vietnamese sandwiches, noodles and small plates; Pink & Reds, a mother-daughter who make soul-food sandwiches; and El Mesón de Violeta, offering Chilean empanadas. For further details on what each vendor is offering, check out their menus onlineASUC Student Union, UC Berkeley, 2495 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

The shakshuka at Revival Bar + Kitchen in Berkeley. Photo: Revival Bar + Kitchen

REVIVAL OF THE DEAL For those who find expansive brunch menus a little overwhelming (especially when nursing a hangover), here’s a piece of news you might like: Berkeley’s Revival Bar + Kitchen is offering a set tasting menu for brunch, where diners will get a cup of coffee (brewed from San Francisco roaster, Wrecking Ball), a mimosa, a choice of two main entrees and a housemade beignet to cap off the meal, all for $20. For the main, choose between the fried chicken benedict or the baked eggs shakshuka made with housemade merguez sausage and local early girl tomatoes. This summer deal will be available through Sept. 16. Revival Bar + Kitchen, 2102 Shattuck Ave. (at Addison), Berkeley

Guests at 21st Amendment’s AugustFest celebration. Photo: 21st Amendment

SUMMER BREWS 21st Amendment Brewery and Taproom in San Leandro brings back its popular summertime celebration, AugustFest. Of course, there’ll be beer — lots of it, including rare and experimental beers, fruit beers, IPAs, lagers and a few resurrected favorites, like Toaster Pastry and Monk’s Blood. At 3 p.m., 21st Amendment will release its newest beer, A Terrible Idea, a hazy IPA co-created with Fieldwork. Aside from brews, this family-friendly event will also feature food and desserts from a variety of food truck vendors; a cigar lounge; music by the Fog City Swampers, the Unauthorized Rolling Stones and DJ Bert; and activities and games for both kids and adults. Since you’ll be drinking a few beers, consider taking BART, especially since 21st Amendment will be providing a free shuttle between the San Leandro BART Station and the brewery. Although the event is free, VIP tickets for guests 21+, which includes a special VIP hour with freebies and more, are available for $21. AugustFest takes place from 1-8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 18.  21st Amendment, 2010 Williams St. (near Westgate), San Leandro

ALAMEDA NEW(B)S We got word from the Downtown Alameda Business Association of a few new food businesses that have opened, or are set to open, this month on the island:


Baby Café opened a third branch in Alameda, taking over the space once occupied by Hot Spot. Baby Café, which has two other locations in Downtown Oakland and Union City, offers Hong Kong tea café specialties, like baked spaghetti and rice plates, sandwiches, pan-fried noodles, milk tea, egg puff waffles and other HK-style desserts, as well as its signature rice cube dishes, featuring beef stew and chicken curry come nestled in a square bowl made out of crispy browned rice. Baby Café, 2321 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda

Popular seafood boil and Hawaiian BBQ spot, Hang Ten Boiler, moved to a new location on Santa Clara Avenue from its space on Encinal Avenue. The grand opening happened on Aug. 5. You’ll find a large bounty of Cajun-style boiled shrimp, crabs, crawfish; garlic noodles; Hawaiian-style combo plates and lots of Warriors fans at this joint.  Hang Ten Boiler, 2315 Santa Clara Ave. (between Oak and Park), Alameda 

Not yet open, but coming soon, will be a second location for Oakland organic juice bar, Main Squeeze at 2300 Central Ave.; poke bowl and rolled ice cream spot called Roll & Bowl at 2302 Encinal Ave. and a new bar called Town Tavern at 1437 Park St. And finally, Cholita Linda is slated to open its branch at 1337 Park St. any day now, so get ready for fish tacos and asado sandwiches.

The Alice Collective café will offer sandwiches from chef Christine Wells, like this seared flank steak baguette sandwich with lemon aioli, arugula and parmesan. Photo: Isabel Baer

GO ASK ALICE A new mixed-use community space called the Alice Collective opens Thursday, Aug. 16, in the former location of the Holmes Book Company in Downtown Oakland. The Alice Collective comes from restaurateur Ted Wilson, who created The Hall, a food court and community space in San Francisco, and is a co-founder of catering company, Metal & Match with chef Christine Wells. Upstairs, there’s a café open on weekdays for breakfast and lunch, offering Red Bay Coffee, baked goods from Oak & Fig Baking, sandwiches and salads developed by chef Wells, as well as wine, beer and cocktails. Downstairs, there’s a commissary kitchen for various established and emerging food businesses. In the evenings, the space is available to the public to rent for events, with the option for in-house catering and a full-service bar. The Alice Collective, 272 14th St. (at Harrison), Oakland