Bites: Yimm brings home-style Thai to Rockridge; free sandwiches at The Bird for 4/20

A white plate with Tom Yum Omelet Rice, a home cooking special at Yimm Thai restaurant in Oakland.
Tom Yum Omelet Rice at Yimm in Oakland. Photo: Yimm/Facebook

YUM, YIMM! Yimm, a new restaurant specializing in Thai home-style cuisine, opened on College Avenue in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood last Friday. As Nosh reported in January, Yimm takes over the space formerly occupied by Osmanthus, and is operated by Aya Amornpan, Note Mansawataphaiboon and Pete Thongsri, the people behind Imm Street Food in downtown Berkeley. Nosh stopped in on Sunday to get a taste of the menu, which offers stir-fried noodles, noodle soups, rice plates, salads, soups and small plates. Many of Yimm’s dishes, like the curries, pad Thai, tom yum and fried rice, will be familiar to most, but the restaurant also offers a selection of “home cooking” items on its menu, what Yimm says are the dishes “Thai restaurant cooks cook for themselves.”

A bowl of Pa Lo and a side of rice with a sweet corn salad in the background at Yimm Thai restaurant in Oakland.
Pa Lo, a sweet-savory Thai stew influenced by Chinese flavors, is on Yimm’s “home cooking” menu. Photo: Sarah Han

On our visit, we tried the Pa-Lo off the home cooking list. A sweet-savory stew made with pork belly, hard-boiled eggs, fried tofu, Pa-Lo is a dish influenced by Chinese flavors, using star anise and cinnamon. Other specials off the home cooking menu include Tom Yum Omelet Rice and Mee Cook, a cold rice noodle dish with shredded chicken and vegetables in a tamarind sauce. We also tried a sweet corn salad off Yimm’s seasonal specials menu and liked its funky, spicy and sweet fish sauce dressing. For diners familiar with Imm, they’ll notice the prices at Yimm are a bit higher than the Berkeley sister restaurant. Most dishes are $14-$16. Yimm is open 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for lunch; 5-10 p.m. for dinner. Yimm, 6048 College Ave. (near Claremont), Oakland

The fried chicken sandwich at The Bird in Berkeley. Photo: Sarah Han

MAJOR MUNCHIES You don’t have to inhale to enjoy the benefits of this 4/20 deal. On Saturday, April 20, The Bird will give away free fried chicken sandwiches to the first 50 people in line at 4:20 p.m. at its Berkeley and San Francisco locations. The other requirement to claim your sandwich; you must also follow @thebirdsf on Instagram. During the rest of the day, The Bird will sell the sandwiches — flavored with a berbere spice blend and topped with celery, apple slaw, mayo and pickles —  for $4.20 (regularly priced at $8). The Bird in Berkeley is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily. The Bird, 2400 Telegraph Ave. (at Channing), Berkeley

BERKELEY BOWL SUED On April 10, a class action complaint was filed against Berkeley Bowl for wage violations. As first reported by the Daily Cal, former employee and plaintiff, Spencer Sumisaki, alleges the grocery store did not compensate hourly-paid and non-exempt employees “for all hours worked and missed meal periods and/or rest breaks,” failed to compensate for overtime and reimburse work-related expenses that workers incurred, and did not keep complete or accurate payroll records. Sumisaki —who is represented by Edwin Aiwazian of Los Angeles-based law firm, Lawyers for Justice — is suing Berkeley Bowl on behalf of “members of the general public similarly situated,” what he estimates is about 50 other Berkeley Bowl employees. Sumisaki seeks compensation for the unpaid hours, attorneys fees and costs of suit, as well as damages and losses. The first hearing will be held May 22 in Oakland.


The Scarlet City Espresso Bar in Emeryville.
The Scarlet City Espresso Bar in Emeryville closed on April 14. Photo: Scarlet City/Facebook

RED, NOT DEAD Over the weekend, Emeryville said goodbye to Scarlet City’s Espresso Bar (3960 Adeline St.), a home base for East Bay Trekkies, sci-fi lovers and pinball enthusiasts for the past four years. The Espresso Bar served its last coffee drinks on April 14. Scarlet City co-owners Jen St. Hilaire and Susanna Handow took to social media to announce the news and express their appreciation to customers: “Thank you for all of your support over the past (nearly) five years, for your engagement, for your friendship, and for being the Dilithium Crystals in the Warp Core that powered our Enterprise.” Although the Espresso Bar is now closed, Scarlet City will continue its roasting operations, selling coffee beans wholesale and online (use coupon code WARP9 for free shipping on first orders).

SMOKIN’ HOT NEWS One of Oakland’s best barbecue joints, Smokin’ Woods has been operating as a part-time pop-up inside 2nd Half sports bar in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood for the last few months. But according to The San Francisco Chronicle, pitmaster James Woodard will be making 2nd Half his permanent home, taking over the bar’s kitchen operations. The change becomes official in June, but Smokin’ Woods has already expanded its hours at the sports bar, from four to six days a week, where it offers its famous ribs, brisket, chicken and links smoked with a blend of fragrant apple, cherry, mesquite, oak and pecan woods, and sides. Woodard told the Chronicle that in order to balance the workload from his catering business, he’ll be offering a less-labor-intensive menu of ‘barbecue-inspired bar food,” like brisket-topped burgers and nachos and pulled pork tacos, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Smokin’ Woods BBQ, 4307 Telegraph Ave. (at 43rd), Oakland

A plate of shrimp and fish tacos from Xingones at Fort Green in Old Oakland.
Shrimp and fish tacos from Xingones at Fort Green in Old Oakland. Photo: Xingones/Instagram

XINGONES AT FORT GREEN Another Oakland pop-up has found a new spot in a sports bar. Xingones, Mayra A. Velazquez and Justino “Tino” Perez’s fried chicken and street tacos operation, has indefinitely taken over the kitchen of Fort Green in Old Oakland. Xingones started as a pop-up at the Sunday Laney College flea market in 2016, when Velazquez, a Laney College culinary school graduate, was offered the spot by the flea market manager. Since then, Xingones has regularly popped up there and at Anina Bar in San Francisco, along with one-off events at other places around the Bay Area. Through the owners of Anina Bar, Velazquez and Perez were introduced to the owners of Fort Green.

At Fort Green, Xingones will offer service during regular bar hours (4 to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; noon to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday; noon to 8 p.m., Sunday). Valezquez told Nosh it will start weekday lunch service in May and that she and Perez are still tweaking the menu for the new location. For now, expect offerings like fried chicken with a choice of waffles or a side (fries, macaroni salad or black beans), a variety of tortas and salads, nachos and other tasty bar snacks. Xingones is also keeping its regular pop-up schedule at Laney flea market, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays. Stay tuned on Nosh for an upcoming feature on Xingones. Fort Green, 736 Washington Ave. (at Eighth), Oakland

BORN ON THE BAYOU Oakland’s White Horse Liquors is now home to Krispy Krunchy Chicken, a Louisiana-based fried chicken chain known for opening franchise locations within convenience stores. Opening a restaurant inside a liquor store or bodega might be a novelty for us in the West Coast, but it’s commonplace to find some of the best eats (like boudin and po’boys) at gas stations and convenience stores in Lafayette, Lousiana, where Krispy Krunchy got its start in 1989. Along with fried chicken, tenders and buffalo wings, you’ll also find fried seafood, breakfast items and sides like fries, red beans and rice, jambalaya and boudin bites on the menu. Krispy Krunchy Chicken, inside White Horse Liquors, 6606 Telegraph Ave. (at 66th), Oakland

NEW HAT Last week, Top Hatters Kitchen & Bar in San Leandro has been quietly testing the waters before its grand opening on Wednesday, April 24. Top Hatters bills itself as a modern neighborhood restaurant serving family-style, seasonal, rustic fare. Chef-owner DanVy Vu, who previously ran the GoStreatery food truck, told Nosh that the restaurant has been holding ticketed soft opening events as they prepare and train staff for official service to begin. Top Hatters is doing one more round of soft openings this week, from 5 to 9:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday (Registration for tickets is free, but getting a ticket does not count as a reservation. Once registered for a date, diners come between open hours).

Vu said so far the food and space have been well received at these dress rehearsals, but the restaurant is working on smoothing out some service challenges before showtime. As for the opening menu, Vu said to expect two Go Streatery favorites, oxtail and grits and lemon ricotta doughnuts, along with dishes like chopped clams with Vietnamese herbs, peanuts, chile and lime served with sesame rice crackers; cauliflower and hen of the woods mushrooms with parsnips and soft boiled egg; and a mushroom and hemp seed pate on grilled bread from San Leandro’s As Kneaded Bakery. Cocktails named after hats, like the Bonnet Rouge and Bourbon Beret, are also finding fans with early diners. (Read more about Top Hatters Kitchen & Bar). Top Hatters Kitchen & Bar, 55 MacArthur Blvd. (between Fortuna and Diehl), San Leandro 

Zume Pizza mobile kitchens are trucks outfitted with smart ovens. Pizzas prepared by humans and robots at the central kitchen in Mountain View are loaded into the trucks, that are then parked in food delivery hubs, baking pies on demand.
Zume Pizza mobile kitchens are trucks outfitted with smart ovens. Pizzas prepared by humans and robots at the central kitchen in Mountain View are loaded into the trucks that are then parked in food delivery hubs, baking pies on demand. Photo: Zume Pizza

ZUME IN THE EAST BAY Mountain View-based Zume Pizza says its high-tech, delivery-only business model allows it to offer pizza with better ingredients at lower prices (from $9.99-$17.99 for large pies). Rather than opening brick-and-mortar locations, Zume has a central commissary kitchen in Mountain View and several trucks acting as mobile kitchens that it parks around busy food delivery hubs throughout the South Bay and Peninsula. Robot and human chefs at the central kitchen prepare the pizzas, which are then placed into smart ovens in the trucks. When an order is placed, an oven at the nearest truck is activated to bake the pie. Once the pizza is ready, a delivery person is notified to pick up and deliver it.

Zume Pizza is currently testing the reach of its automated fleet in the East Bay, first launching delivery in Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton. Along with this East Bay expansion, the company has started Pies With Purpose, a collaboration between Zume chef Eric Bauer and local chefs to create specialty pizzas for charity. The first Pie with Purpose, “The Spaniard,” comes from Oakland chef Jen Biesty of Shakewell, and features piquillo pepper sauce, dry Spanish chorizo, Picholine olives, manchego and mozzarella cheeses and saffron onions. Ten percent of sales of The Spaniard go to Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation.

Ernesto Palmieri, a pizzaiolo and chef from Naples, Italy, prepares pizzas at Lucia's in downtown Berkeley.
Ernesto Palmieri, a pizzaiolo and chef from Naples, Italy, prepares pizzas at Lucia’s in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Lucia’s

GLUTEN-FREE FOR PIZZA GLUTTONS After a successful sold-out first event last March, Lucia’s in downtown Berkeley will host its Gluten-Free Neapolitan Pizza Day for a second year in a row. On April 25, from 5-9:15 p.m., Lucia’s will only serve gluten-free versions of its pizzas, pastas and other dishes using a special de-glutenized wheat flour from Italy. Owner Steve Dumain, who has celiac disease himself, takes pride in this special flour, especially when the resulting pizzas and pastas are so close to those made with regular flour that some gluten-sensitive customers have assumed they were given the wrong order.

This year, Lucia’s will also be offering gluten-free beer, along with cider and wines. In addition, the restaurant will also highlight its vegan and vegetarian options, including vegan pizzas made with Miyoko cashew mozzarella and Impossible burger topping. Lucia’s, 2016 Shattuck Ave. (near University), Berkeley