The East Bay restaurants that opened and closed in March

A bibimbap bowl from Mad Seoul in Berkeley.
Mad Seoul in Berkeley offers customizable bibimbap, with your choice of base grain, protein, vegetables and sauce. Photo: Mad Seoul

Berkeley

Open

BANSHO RAMEN A tipster alerted Nosh to incoming Bansho Ramen, which softly (and swiftly) opened on March 22 in the recently vacated TeaTime space (see Closings). The welcoming, budget-friendly ramen restaurant boasts a warm and surprisingly spacious interior, with cheerful service and plenty of room for groups. Along with ramen choices (including a 20-hour simmered tonkotsu, shoyu and shio broths), an appetizer menu includes Japanese-style fried chicken, agedashi tofu, various salads and a kid’s bowl of ramen for $5.50. Bansho Ramen, 2502 Telegraph Ave. (at Dwight), Berkeley

Bansho Ramen takes over the former TeaTime space in Berkeley. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

BERKELEY ORGANIC MARKET & DELI As reported in Bites, the former Ashby Marketplace in the Elmwood is now Berkeley Organic Market & Deli, featuring the same focus on upmarket groceries, dry goods and deli sandwiches. New organic merchandise is arriving during the soft-opening phase, and some products are in flux, but the deli remains up and running and the store is as bustling as ever. Look for a grand opening further along. Berkeley Organic Market & Deli, 2642 Ashby Ave. (at College), Berkeley

CASSAVE Emeryville-based Cassave Restaurant and Taqueria, popular for its hearty and extensive menu of Mexican and Salvadoran burritos, tacos, tortas, pupusas, large plates and many breakfast specialties, has opened its second location in South Berkeley. The new Cassave is in the former 44 Restaurant, Bar & Lounge space. Cassave, 3290 Adeline (at Alcatraz), Berkeley

Shelves lined with cheesecakes at CheeseQuakes in Berkeley
You’ll find all kinds of cheesecakes and cheesecake-related desserts and snacks at CheeseQuakes! in Berkeley. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

CHEESEQUAKES! CheeseQuakes! moved into Berkeley’s Epicurious Garden food hall on March 7, quickly reviving the corner kiosk vacated by Alegio the week before (see Closings). The family-owned company features classic and innovative flavors of “San Francisco-style” cheesecake (said to be creamier than New York-style) as well as various cheesecake-related desserts and snacks, including “Just The Crust” cookies and cheesecake-flavored shakes. In the interest of accurate reporting, Nosh tried a small sample of the original San Francisco cheesecake and found it to be very creamy, smooth and just sweet enough. CheeseQuakes!, at the Epicurious Garden, 1511 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine), Berkeley


HUMPHRY SLOCOMBE It’s here! The dearly departed Ici ice cream parlor in the Elmwood is now Berkeley’s first Humphry Slocombe as of March 25, slinging cups and cones of Jake Godby and Sean Vahey’s wild and wildly beloved flavors such as Secret Breakfast (cornflake-studded bourbon ice cream) and Harvey Milk & Honey Graham (blackberry-honey ice cream met with housemade grahams). As explained earlier this week by Nosh, this is not your typical kiddie scoop-shop — Concannon Viognier-flavored ice cream is in the opening cooler, and here’s hoping “Elvis, The Fat Years” makes an appearance. Berkeley-specific flavors will take advantage of local products from TCHO, La Tourangelle and other local artisans. The Elmwood shop now makes five parlors for the famously irreverent (but fun for all ages) purveyor that first opened in San Francisco’s Mission District in 2008. Join the lines beginning at 1 p.m., Monday through Thursdays; noon, Friday through Sunday. Humphry Slocombe, 2948 College Ave. (at Ashby), Berkeley

King of Kabab owner Khaled Azzam (left) with colleague at the new Middle Eastern kebab shop in Berkeley.
Owner Khaled Azzam (left) with a colleague at King of Kebab. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

KING OF KABAB There’s a new casual counter-service Mediterranean and Middle Eastern spot at the busy San Pablo Avenue crossroads where Berkeley meets Oakland near Emeryville. King of Kabab is from Jordan-born owner Khaled Azzam, and offers halal kebab and gyro plates, wraps, falafel, dips and salads. Order for take-away, or sit at one of the handful of tables in the shop and on the sidewalk. Catering is also a specialty here. King of Kabab, 3043 San Pablo Ave. (between Carrison and Haskell), Berkeley

MAD SEOUL Shattuck has a brand new Korean fast-casual option as of March 28 in Mad Seoul, bringing traditional and customizable versions of bibimbap to Berkeley diners. The sleek, clean-lined counter-service restaurant (with an excellent name) is open daily for lunch and dinner, and features room for about 28 diners inside, and about 12 at sidewalk tables on nicer days. Customers choose a base of rice, quinoa or romaine, add a protein (or not) such as marinated beef (bulgogi), spicy or miso chicken, or tofu, and then top with a range of prepared warm, pickled or raw vegetables and other add-ons, and one of three sauces — spicy gochujang, sweet soy or sesame ginger. (For those who prefer the path of least decisions, opt for one of four composed house specialty bowls. There’s also soup, wraps, kimchi and lots of extras.) The goal from new owner Aaron Kim is healthful, casual and flavorful Korean dining for a wide audience. Online orders for pickup available. Mad Seoul, 1801 C Shattuck (at Delaware), Berkeley

Closed

ALEGIO CHOCOLATÉ As reported by Nosh, gourmet chocolate shop Alegio said arrivederci to Berkeley on March 2, after 13 years inside the Epicurious Garden. Devotees of the shop’s truffles and Claudio Corallo organic, fair-trade chocolates from West Africa — Alegio is America’s exclusive purveyor — can still find them at the importer’s Silicon Valley location at 522 Bryant Street in Palo Alto, and from the company’s online shop.

ASHBY MARKETPLACE Sandwich lovers in the Elmwood may be nervous to hear this higher-end little market and deli has been sold, but take note — the new owners of the freshly-named Berkeley Organic Market & Deli will maintain the popular deli, as well as eventually expand on the grocery offerings. See Openings, above.

CRUNCH It’s official — Korean-fusion eatery Crunch’s closure is no longer temporary. The Center Street restaurant has fully shuttered and a sign in the window announces “authentic Persian cuisine” coming soon. Stay tuned.

A wooden board is placed over the small kiosk that once housed Face to Face in Berkeley.
Face to Face, the tiny kiosk in downtown Berkeley known for soups, Chinese snacks, Thai tea and one all-beef hot dog is no more. Photo: Sarah Han

FACE TO FACE The tiny kiosk near a downtown parking lot on Milvia St. known for soups, Chinese snacks, Thai tea and one all-beef hot dog is no more. There’s a board over one of the windows and no more smiling, friendly service from owner Yan Yu. Face to Face, you will be missed!


KYUSHU RAMEN When one ramen shop door opens, another is closed — these days, sometimes at the same intersection. A reader alerted Nosh to the closure of Kyushu Ramen at Dwight and Telegraph (across the street from newly opened Bansho Ramen) — a shutter that we regret to report happened over a year ago and well under the radar. The notable restaurant space with an appealing patio has a long history as former incarnations Joshu-Ya Brasserie and the original Joshu-Ya Sushi Boat, one of the first sushi restaurants to open in Berkeley. According to Telegraph Business Improvement District executive director Stuart Baker, its brief 2017 morph into Kyushu Ramen began and ended within a matter of months, and there is no sign of any replacement for now.

Closed for business, Sancha Bar in downtown Berkeley displays a 'for sale' sign in the window.
Sancha Bar in downtown Berkeley closed after less than a year in business. Photo: Sarah Han

SANCHA BAR Despite its many positive reviews, lounge-like bubble tea shop Sancha Bar at 2041 University Ave. shuttered this month after less than a year in business. The location opened last July.

TEATIME Another Berkeley boba shop, TeaTime, at 2502 Telegraph Ave., closed after operating for less than one year. TeaTime opened in July 2018, and served a number of savory noodle and fried-rice dishes. Note to hungry students: Its replacement, Bansho Ramen, is already open (see above).

Oakland

Open

THE CROWN This impressive and immersive high-design coffee compound from Royal Coffee is part retail, part café, part lab and part community education and events space, complete with a tasting room. Nosh writer Benjamin Seto took a deep look into all those offerings and more in this piece when The Crown opened March 4. The Crown, 2523 Broadway (at 25th), Oakland

A tray of vegetarian spring rolls and a tray of shrimp spring rolls at Cam Anh in Oakland.
Vegetarian and shrimp spring rolls at Cam Anh in Oakland Chinatown. Photo: Momo Chang

CAM ANH Berkeleyside contributor Momo Chang described what fans of now-closed Cam Huong can expect from this new incarnation of the beloved Vietnamese deli in Oakland’s Chinatown, reopened at the end of February by local businesswoman, first-time restaurateur (and Cam Huong fan herself) Anh Nguyen. Nguyen has streamlined but kept much of the original menu, as well as the restaurant’s focus on healthful, balanced dishes and affordability. To further that end, Anh has also expanded the vegan menu and may add a few Japanese and Korean offerings. Feedback so far has been a mixture of delight and relief. Cam Anh, 920 Webster St. (between 9th and 10th), Oakland

CHINA TASTE New Chinatown restaurant China Taste, from the owners of Spices 3!, celebrated a March 18 grand opening in the former Spices space before that restaurant’s October 2018 move across the street. China Taste serves up noodle dishes, soups and rolls, fried rice, porridge and dim sum. China Taste, 369 12th St. (between Webster and Franklin), Oakland


The Poppy, a seasonal salad offering at Mixt in Oakland.
The Poppy is a seasonal spring salad at Mixt Oakland. Photo: Sarah Han

MIXT San Francisco’s make-your-own salad and grain bowl chain, Mixt, has been quietly testing the waters in Oakland, the first of its two new East Bay locations (the other opens in San Ramon next month). Mixt Oakland soft opened on March 21, with its official grand opening on April 6. The spacious new Uptown location, right next door to Brown Sugar Kitchen, is already a popular lunchtime spot for workers in the area seeking a fresh vegetable fix. Mixt’s salads are impressively large and hearty, which Mixt vice president of marketing Brigitte Brady-Harris told Nosh is purposeful — the company wants guests to consider its salads as full meals and not just sides. This Mixt is one of four that offers design-your-own and chef’s suggested plates on its menu, which come with a protein, sauce and two vegetable sides. It also serves beer, wine and craft cocktails, along with lemonade, iced tea and kombucha on tap. Mixt Oakland is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, so there are ample opportunities for those outside the 9-to-5 crowd to visit. Mixt, 2299 Broadway, Oakland 

N-ZONE UPTOWN This high-energy restaurant and bar in the former Camber space serves a mix of bar bites and pan-Asian dishes with a focus on Thai and Lao noodles, curries and salads. Expect high ceilings, sports on big screens, strong cocktails and an industrial vibe. Active military and other service personnel receive a 10% discount on the tab, as do… senior citizens. The N-Zone Uptown, 1707 Telegraph (at 17th), Oakland

Closed

CONTRASTO As reported in Nosh, 15-year-old Roman enclave Contrasto will close on March 31, after which time chef-owner Alessandro Campitelli looks forward to pursuing other endeavors such as cooking classes and special wine-focused dinners, at least for the moment. Meanwhile, the vacant Contrasto space at 388 Grand Avenue near Lake Merritt will eventually become new restaurant Mama, from husband and wife team Josiah Baldivino and Stevie Stacionis, owners of Oakland’s Bay Grape wine shop.

Spasso, after it reopened in September as a nonprofit café and community space. Photo: Kirsten Royston of “I Do Props”

SPASSO The current iteration of Rockridge café and community space Spasso has closed, with the happy press-time news that it may potentially reopen soon under new nonprofit ownership. The decades-old hub for coffee, arts events and collaboration underwent an ownership change in 2017, and refresh in 2018, but a tipster noticed the windows covered over earlier this month. Hopefully the many arts groups that convene here will find a new space to connect — or may not need to move on at all. Details to come.

Beyond

Open

BAGUETTE Banh mi sandwiches are on offer at this new fast-casual counter at the corner of Park and Santa Clara in Alameda, sharing space with also newly-opened Gong Cha (see below). Baguette, 2353 Santa Clara (at Park), Alameda

GONG CHA A Gong Cha boba tea counter has opened in Alameda, in the same property as Baguette. Gong Cha is an international franchise that offers a wide variety of milk teas, smoothies and other drinks. The two shops share space in a modern, sleek interior. Gong Cha, 1501 Park (at Santa Clara), Alameda

ROCKET FIZZ It’s not a restaurant, but the Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop franchise opened a location on Park Street in family-heavy Alameda at the end of February, and its wide variety of candy, sodas, novelty gifts and vintage appeal sure seems to have hit its target market. Rocket Fizz, 1356 Park (at Central), Alameda

Closed

BANGKOK KITCHEN As mentioned in Diablo Dish, Bangkok Kitchen in Concord’s Todos Santos Plaza has closed, as has Woung Luang Thai (see below).

MAYO & MUSTARD Despite two years of good reviews and a solid following for its old-school subs and sandwiches, popular Emeryville Public Market stall Mayo & Mustard tweeted its unexpected shutter on March 25; Nosh joins the E’ville Eye and many Emeryville residents and workers in mourning its departure.

MOMO’S WALNUT CREEK Though its San Francisco location remains steadfast after two decades for beer and burgers near Oracle Park, baseball-themed MoMo’s second location in Walnut Creek has shuttered after only two years.

The outside of 612one, a restaurant and bar in Emeryville that closed on March 22, 2019.
Asian-fusion restaurant and cocktail bar 612one in Emeryville closed on March 22. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

612ONE A letter on the door of Emeryville’s now-closed 612one calls its patrons a “true community,” and emphasizes the decision to close was “filled with heartache.” The Asian-fusion restaurant and cocktail bar closed on March 22, after nearly three dedicated years. We hope whoever lands this attractive, keystone Emeryville restaurant space next has similar heart.

WE SUSHI The E’ville Eye reports that a second food-truck-turned-market-stall, We Sushi, was evicted earlier this year from the Emeryville Public Market, though this was after a stretch of lackluster reviews and quieted business. We Sushi and Mayo & Mustard were two of the first stalls opened inside the “new” Public Market in 2016, and it’s unfortunate to see them follow each other out. We wish We the best.

WOUNG LUANG THAI Diablo Dish reports that Concord’s Woung Luang Thai has closed along with Bangkok Kitchen, both within the same Todos Santos Plaza complex.

Temporarily closed

THE RESTAURANT AT WENTE VINEYARDS Notable white-tablecloth destination The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards in Livermore is temporarily closed for renovations, with a reopening date TBD. Meanwhile, the property’s clubbier dining room The Grill, popular with golfers, will remain open as an alternative for the duration. The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, 5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore