MOCHI DONUTS, WAFFLES, MORE Last week, Nosh visited Berkeley’s Third Culture Bakery’s showroom to try its just-released spring/summer menu of mochi desserts and drinks. A follow-up to its signature, now trademarked, Mochi Muffins, and a twist on the traditional donut, Third Culture’s mochi donuts are made with Mochiko rice flour, giving them a satisfyingly chewy texture. The newest flavors include Strawberries & Cream, Vietnamese Coffee, Buko Pandan, Piña Colada, Saffron Honey and Pistachios and Blood Orange.
Third Culture co-owner Wenter Shyu was on hand to tell us a little about each flavor we tried. As with many of Third Culture’s Asian-inspired offerings, the Vietnamese coffee and pandan (a tropical plant used in Southeast Asian cooking) flavors are an ode to favorite treats from Shyu’s childhood. Piña colada, on the other hand, is a favorite drink of his business and life partner, Sam Butarbutar, the baker at Third Culture. And the Saffron Honey and Pistachio donut was inspired by a challenge put to Butarbutar by a Third Culture employee, who wanted him to create a donut with Middle Eastern flavors.
Aside from the donuts, Third Culture also introduced two new mochi waffles, one sweet and one savory. We tried the sweet crème brûlée version, topped with rich French-style pastry cream, a torched sugar shell and crumbles of freeze-dried raspberries that add the perfect counterbalance of brightness and tartness. The savory type is a Cheese and Kimchi Mochi Waffle, stuffed with melted cheese and loaded with kimchi made by local maker, Kimchee Jeanius, who’s been hosting a pop-up at Third Culture on first and third Saturdays.
Although everyone rightly raves about the baked goods at Third Culture, we think the drinks there are something special, too. Shyu is a self-described matcha connoisseur, and it shows in the care with which the potent green tea powder drinks are made at the showroom. The two new refreshments on the menu are a Passion Fruit Matcha Sparkler, made with a passion fruit and mango puree and sparkling hand-whisked matcha, and the Roasted Matcha Plover, a creamy tea soda with a generous dollop of Chantilly whipped cream. All the new menu items are only available at the showroom.
Third Culture Bakery has been growing rapidly, with more wholesale business than ever and a new Aurora, Colorado, bakery opening this summer, and others to come in L.A. and New York. On April 6, the bakery will celebrate its second anniversary with a party at the showroom featuring a menu of sweet and savory foods inspired by Butarbutar’s Indonesian background, along with a swag bag of goodies for VIP ticket holders. RSVP for the party on Eventbrite; admission is free to attend but $55 for VIP access. The showroom is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Third Culture Bakery, 2701 Eighth St. (between Carleton and Pardee), Berkeley
A NEW MARKET PLACE Ashby Marketplace, the natural grocery store and deli in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood, recently changed hands and names. The former owner, Ramiz Hasan, had been running the market since 2010, offering organic produce, international foods, gluten-free and other specialty products. Now run by Waheed Alsaidi — whose family has run produce markets for many years in Oakland — the store is called Berkeley Organic Market and Deli. Alsaidi said the market still focuses on natural, organic products, but he is working on bringing in more merchandise, including produce and other items from local vendors. The store is also keeping the deli as is for now, but Alsaidi said he may add to the menu in the future. Berkeley Organic Market is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily. It will celebrate its grand opening next month. Berkeley Organic Market and Deli, 2642 Ashby (at College), Berkeley
IN THE ZONE This week, Berkeleyside reported on new zoning codes that will be welcome news for those looking to open or expand a restaurant or food business in Berkeley, a process that many who’ve gone through it before the amendments say was unduly harrowing. The changes, which went into effect Feb. 27, are meant to make it easier and faster for all types of small businesses, but two of the six modifications are specifically focused on food businesses: One simplifies food business categories. Formerly, there were three types, each with different rules; now there are just food-service establishments. The other streamlines the permitting process and clarifies the performances standards for restaurants that wish to serve beer and wine. Read the full story for more details.
BACK IN BIZ If you’ve tried to stop into Oakland’s Sequoia Diner in the last few days, you’ll know it’s been closed. The Laurel neighborhood diner had to shut down unexpectedly to resolve a plumbing issue, but owner Sequoia Vennari announced yesterday that the issue has been fixed and business can go on as usual. Sequoia re-opened today, March 20, at 8 a.m. for breakfast and lunch. Sequoia Diner, 3719 MacArthur Blvd. (near Loma Vista Ave.), Oakland
ISN’T IT GRAND? Grand Lake Kitchen recently announced an opening date for its new expansion into Oakland’s Dimond district. In the restaurant’s last newsletter, owners May and David Wasem told local diners to expect to see the business open on “May 1st-ish,” and added “We’re close to hiring for all positions so if you know good people, tell them to be on the look-out for our job fair in early April.” Read our previous coverage for details on what to expect at that new outpost. Grand Lake Kitchen Dimond will be at 2042 MacArthur Blvd. (at Dimond), Oakland
HAPPY TIMES Bay Area-based burger chain Super Duper just announced happy hour freebies available at various Super Duper locations. At the Berkeley outpost, happy hour take place from 3-6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and diners who order a local Bay Area beer, wine or spiked shake will get a free order of fries; in Concord, during those same times, there’s the same deal, plus another: any burger or sandwich order will come with a free kid-sized soft serve cone. Unfortunately, Super Duper fans in Emeryville will have to wait for a happy hour deal. According to the restaurant’s marketing manager, Jonathan Banasky, the company is giving the new spot a chance to get into the groove before adding any new promotions. He added that it’s likely it will add a happy hour in May. Super Duper Burgers, 2335 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley; 2001-2003 Diamond Blvd., Concord
ALBANY CHEER, ALBANY BEER Wildcard Brewing in Albany is starting a new monthly charity event series called Pints with Purpose, which recognizes and raises funds for local non-profit organizations that benefit communities in Albany. The first event takes place March 30, when a portion of proceeds raised during business hours will benefit Albany Education Foundation, a non-profit that funds educational programs for students in Albany public schools. The next Pints with Purpose is on April 13 and will benefit Gill Tract Farm, a collaborative UC Berkeley and community-run urban farm found on the corner of San Pablo and Marin Avenue. Along with a portion of sales going to Gill Tract Farm, there will be a small produce stand inside the taproom from 4-10 p.m. Wildcard Brewing Co., 1122 Solano (near Kains), Albany
MIXT, TAKE 2 San Francisco’s salad and grain bowl chain, Mixt was supposed to open a new outpost in Downtown Oakland in January, but the company had to pump the brakes due to construction delays. About four months later, the Oakland location is ready to open on April 6, and another East Bay Mixt in San Ramon will follow shortly after on April 27. Both locations will be offering grand opening specials to customers: The first 250 guests to Mixt Oakland will get free totes with items from local brands like Numi Organic Tea, Drake’s Brewing and others. Neighboring businesses Humphry Slocombe and Firebrand Artisan will be on site with samples, too. Mixt will also be donating 12% of proceeds from sales on April 6-7 to West Oakland urban farm, City Slicker Farms. The first 250 guests to Mixt San Ramon will get free totes with items from City Center Bishop Ranch businesses, and Mixt will donate $1 from every salad sold April 27-28 to local non-profit partner The Urban Farmers. Mixt will be at 2299 Broadway, Oakland; and 6000 Bollinger Canyon Rd., San Ramon
EAT THE ‘DRO San Leandro doesn’t get much credit for being a culinary destination, but there are lots of noteworthy food and drink spots that call the city home, including As Kneaded Bakery, Papaito Rotisserie, Pinx Catering, 21st Amendment Brewery, Cleophus Quealy Beer Company, Drake’s Brewing and Rock Wall Wine Company. These spots and many others will be at The Taste of San Leandro taking place at 21st Amendment Brewery from 5-8 p.m., Tuesday, March 26. For $50, guests will get unlimited bites and sips from more than 40 local vendors. 21st Amendment Brewery, 2010 Williams St., San Leandro
SHARK BITES Wild Earth, the Berkeley-based pet food company that makes dog and cat treats made from koji mold and lab-grown mouse meat, appeared on a recent episode of ABC’s Shark Tank and came away big. Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt pitched tech billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the show’s other “shark” investors on Wild Earth’s mission to create sustainable pet food products that end the industry’s dependence on factory farming and traditional, animal-produced foods. He was asking for a $550,000 investment in exchange for 5% of the company. Although the other four sharks did not bite, Cuban agreed to invest the amount, but for 10% of the company. Since garnering Cuban’s investment, Wild Earth says it has launched its first three products that are available online and in retail stores, including Berkeley’s Holistic Hound.