Bites: Osmanthus in Rockridge to close, to be Thai spot called Yimm; Ayesha Curry pop-up store

Osmanthus in Rockridge. Photo: Sarah Han

OSMANTHUS TO YIMM Over the weekend, Nosh got a tip from reader Mike M. that Rockridge Asian fusion restaurant Osmanthus will serve its last meals on Thursday, Jan. 31. We confirmed the news with the restaurant’s owner Steven Chen. Osmanthus was originally opened in 2013 by brothers Michael and Bruce Chiang with chef Julia Klein, and during its first years was widely lauded for its modern takes on Pan-Asian cuisine and Asian-inspired cocktails. In 2017, Chen, who also owns Burma Bistro in Santa Clara, bought the restaurant. Chen told Nosh in an email that he decided to close Osmanthus, which he says has been “struggling” for the last year. “I could not find a good manager,” he wrote, so he has decided to sell “to buy my time back for my family.” The people behind Imm Thai Street Food in downtown Berkeley have taken over the space and will open Yimm, serving “simple, trendy and authentic Thai focusing on Bangkok home-style cooking,” said Yimm co-owner Aya Amornpan, who with her husband Note Mansawataphaiboon and partner Pete Thongsri will operate the Rockridge restaurant. The owners expect Yimm to open at 6048 College Ave. (near Claremont) in mid-March.

GLK PT. 2 In October, Grand Lake Kitchen announced it would be opening a second location in Oakland’s Dimond neighborhood. While owners May and David Wasem have held the lease at the space since December 2017, a series delays have held up construction, but May Wasem told Nosh this week that construction has begun and is going smoothly. The Wasems had been looking to expand to Dimond, where they live, since 2014, and finally came upon the property on MacArthur Boulevard (formerly Full Moon Seafood House) when the landlord showed up at a community meeting saying he had purchased the property and was looking for tenants. The new space is about 5,500-square-feet (the Grand Avenue restaurant, Wasem said, is probably around 3,500-square-feet), and will have plenty of seating inside, a full bar, a to-go area with a separate entryway and two patios — one enclosed and one outside. The latter will be great on warm days and for people who like to dine with their dogs; the former will likely have a more family-oriented vibe, with low set tables and other comfortable furniture, along with a designated play area. Wasem said she’s still playing with the idea, but being a mother of a 16-month-old makes her think more kid-friendly dining options are a need in the area.

As for the food, expect a similar rotating menu of seasonal and locally sourced deli fare, comforting entrees, and brunch on the weekends. But, with a much bigger kitchen at the Dimond location, Wasem said they hope to try out more things as they get used to the space, including expanding their catering menu and capabilities. With construction coming to an end in early April, the new Dimond Grand Lake Kitchen could open as soon as mid to late April. Stay tuned on Nosh, where we’ll have more updates. Grand Lake Kitchen Dimond will be at 2042 MacArthur Blvd. (at Dimond), Oakland

Ayesha Curry’s Homemade pop-up retail shop in Jack London Square will carry her line of cookware and home goods. It opens on Feb. 2. Photo: Sasha Gulish Photography

CHEF CURRY FOR THE POT Restaurateur, winemaker and food television host Ayesha Curry (who happens to be married to someone you may have also heard of) just announced that she’ll be opening her first retail store, Homemade. The “extended stay” pop-up shop in Jack London Square will feature Curry’s own line of cookware, bakeware, kitchen textiles and indoor garden kits, as well as other products for the home. Homemade will open on Saturday, Feb. 2, and Curry will make an appearance for a meet-and-greet and book signing the following week at 11 a.m., Feb. 10. The store will be open 4-7 p.m., Wednesday through Friday; 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. For now, there is no determined end date for the shop. Homemade will be at 423 Water St., Jack London Square, Oakland


‘ZA LOVE Last year, the City of Berkeley proclaimed February as Pizza Lovers Month. Aside from being a way to celebrate a no-brainer food that almost everyone loves, it encourages diners to visit local businesses through a month-long pizza crawl, in which diners fill out a punch card at participating businesses for a chance to win prizes. Nine downtown Berkeley pizza joints participated in the first annual crawl, and this year, there are 10, including longtime favorite Arinell; sit-down restaurants like Gather and Lucia’s; and Sliver, which returned downtown earlier this month. Find out more about participating restaurants, raffle rules and prizes on the Downtown Berkeley Association website.

Black Sesame Shortbread, a Chinese New Year’s special from Third Culture Bakery in Berkeley. Photo: Third Culture Bakery

LUNAR NEW YEAR TREATS Berkeley’s Third Culture Bakery, known for its mochi muffin and other pastries with Asian flavors, is baking up a special sweet for Chinese New Year. Its Black Sesame Shortbread Cookies are made with TCHO chocolate cacao nibs, but get their dark hue and nutty flavor from a housemade Japanese black sesame paste. The cookies come three to a box with a red envelope for $16. The shortbread is only available at Third Culture’s West Berkeley showroom, which will offer a limited quantity each day through Feb. 16. Third Culture Bakery, 2701 Eighth St. (at Carleton), Berkeley

GRAND PRIX FIXE Oakland Restaurant Week has come and gone, but the ORW prix fixe menu at Doña Tomás has extended its stay. Dona Savitsky’s Temescal Mexican restaurants is offering the $30 three-course set dinner menu on weekdays through spring. The meal includes two delicata squash and green garlic quesadillas; a choice of entree: carnitas or chile rellenos stuffed with cheese, corn and huitlacoche (corn fungus); and a flourless chocolate cake with Mexican chocolate sauce and whipped cream for dessert. Doña Tomás, 5004 Telegraph Ave. (between 49th and 51st), Oakland 

Oysters on the half shell are on Honor Kitchen & Cocktails’ new weekday happy hour menu. Photo: Honor Kitchen & Cocktails

7TH HEAVEN Emeryville’s Honor Kitchen & Cocktails is offering a budget-friendly weekday happy hour special for those looking for a light bite and a drink after work. From 5:30 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, guests can choose from a list of seven beverages and small plates priced at $7 each. The menu includes a glass of Juggernaut Cabernet Sauvignon, American Legacy “carbonated old fashion” (bourbon, amarena-demerera, bitters, orange peel), Beach Bonfire “smoked pisco punch” (pisco, pineapple gomme, lemon, Islay scotch, Tiki bitters and salt), fried pork belly tacos, short rib sliders, guava BBQ smoked ribs, and raw oysters with mignonette sauce ($2 each). Honor Kitchen & Cocktails, 1411 Powell St. (at Hollis), Emeryville

AFTERNOON DELIGHT Last week, Henry’s — Chris Kronner’s Berkeley restaurant located at the Graduate Hotel — expanded its service hours. Along with breakfast, dinner and weekend brunch, it’s now serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. The new lunch menu has a focus on soup, salad and sandwiches. You’ll find a pastrami sandwich (which can be made into a Reuben), a grilled cheese, a turkey club, and a vegan version of the club, made with smoked celeriac to imitate the texture of meat. This veg-friendly sandwich is loaded with crispy leeks, sprouts and a housemade vegan mayo. All sandwiches come with slaw and pickles; gluten-free bread is available by request. There’s also a mozzarella salad with roasted root vegetables and two soups — a Dungeness crab chowder and vegetarian soup of the day. And of course, with Kronner at the helm, there are burgers on the lunch menu. Prices range from $5 for soup, $10-$13 for salads, and $6-$8 for half- and $13-$15 for whole sandwiches. Henry’s, Graduate Hotel, 2600 Durant Ave. (at Bowditch), Berkeley

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT Another Cal institution, downtown Berkeley watering hole Spats, recently obtained an entertainment license. According to Joel DiGiorgio of Farm League Restaurant Group, which manages the business, “This type of license is rare in downtown Berkeley, and we hope to make live music, DJs and dancing a focus for our historic establishment.” That includes weekly events, like karaoke on Wednesday nights and Flashback Fridays, a hip-hop, R&B and soul dance party with DJ O’Aces in the “Jungle Room” located in the back of the bar. While we’re on the topic of Spats, take note that it’s hosting a Super Bowl party this Sunday. Football fans can watch the Rams v. the Patriots on multiple flat screens, while enjoying several food and drink specials, like $5 cocktails and pints of Trumer and Racer 5, $12 pitchers of Miller High Life, and three chicken wings for $1.50. Spats, 1974 Shattuck Ave. (near University), Berkeley

PICK NIK Oakland-based food writer and San Francisco Chronicle food columnist Nik Sharma will be at Market Hall Rockridge from 1-3 pm., Saturday, Feb. 2, to sign copies of his recent cookbook, Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food, which features more than 100 recipes combining flavors and techniques from India, the American South and California. There will be a tasting element at this booksigning, with samples of dishes and ingredients from the book, including Deviled Eggs with Creamy Tahini & Zaatar, Curry Leaf Popcorn Chicken, Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Poppy Seeds, Black Mustard & Coconut Oil, and Eggplant Pilaf (The cookbook, along with the prepared dishes will be for sale at the market; and Market Hall Bakery will offer Sharma’s Elderflower & Ghee Cake.) Market Hall Rockridge, 5655 College Ave. (at Keith), Oakland

NESTLE 3X Author and food policy scholar Marion Nestle will be giving a three-part lecture series at Cal. On Feb. 5, Nestle will speak on “Food Policy in the Trump Era,” specifically on policies focused on undernutrition, obesity and the ffects of food production of the environment. Michael Pollan will introduce this talk. The following Tuesday, Feb. 12, Nestle returns to speak on how nutrition science is under attack from statisticians and the food industry. And finally, on Feb. 19, Nestle concludes the series with a discussion on how consumers and citizens can join the food movement, acting to protect programs focused on food security, nutrition and environmental protection. All lectures take place at 6 p.m. at the Logan Multimedia Center at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Seats are first come, first served. The lectures are free, but advance registration is requested.