Bites: Marugame Udon brings fresh noodles and tempura to Berkeley this month; Nido’s Backyard opens

The beef udon at Marugame Udon & Tempura.
The beef udon at Marugame Udon & Tempura. Photo: Marugame Udon

[Updated 1:10 p.m. with new opening date information] GET READY FOR LINES If you’ve been craving udon and tempura since seeing signs go up for the upcoming Marugame outpost in Berkeley, you’ll be happy to know the grand opening is this month. Makoto Smith, the marketing representative for the international Japanese chain restaurant told Nosh it will soft open Tuesday, Sept. 24. Marugame currently has more than 1,000 restaurants around the world, with eight in the U.S., including one at the Stonestown Mall in San Francisco, which Smith said is the company’s second-busiest location worldwide.

“We decided to open this location in Berkeley due to the great success of our Stonestown location, so we wanted to expand further into the Northern California market,” Smith said, who confirmed the menu in Berkeley will mirror the eats at Stonestown. Marugame’s service is cafeteria-style, which allows for prices of its cooked-to-order noodles to be affordable ($4.50/$5.50 for the regular/large servings of the most basic hot and cold udon dishes; $9.90/$10.90 for specialty dishes; toppings are $1.30-$2.20 each). The nearly year-old Stonetown location is known for its long lines, so we anticipate the Berkeley spot — found on the ground floor at Cal’s Berkeley Way West building — will follow suit, at least when it first opens.

Marugume Udon originally announced Sept. 24 would be its grand opening, but Smith followed up with Nosh after publication to say the grand opening has been postponed “due to challenges with hiring staff.” The soft opening that day will be dinner-service only; a new grand opening date is still to be determined. Marugame Udon & Tempura will be at Berkeley Way West, 1919 Shattuck Ave. (at Hearst), Berkeley  

HELLO, MEZCAL GARDEN The years-long wait for Nido’s Backyard, is almost over. After a weekend of soft opening events, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the large outdoor Mexican restaurant with a focus on agave-based spirits will open Friday. Nido’s Backyard is located in the Jack London warehouse district, just two blocks away from its sister restaurant, seven-year-old Mexican restaurant Nido. Owners Silvia and Cory McCollow have tapped Nido chef Jose Ramos to lead the kitchen at the new spot, which will offer similar California-Mexican fare that Nido serves, but with more shared options, including both snacks and large plates, to feed bigger groups. The menu also offers soup and salad, tortas, tacos and desserts. Unlike the original restaurant, Nido’s Backyard is massive — the property is contained between 14 shipping containers arranged in what used to be a parking lot. A full bar offers more than 100 spirits distilled from agave, including mezcal, Tequila and sotol. There’s also a game area, space for private dining and room to grow for more community gatherings and performances. Nido’s Backyard will be open this week from 5-9 p.m., Friday 5-10 p.m., Saturday 2-9 p.m. and Sunday for cocktails and a limited preview menu. The restaurant will scale up hours starting Sept. 17, when it will be open from 3-9 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 3-11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday. Nido’s Backyard, 104 Oak St. (at Embarcadero West), Oakland


FROM TOP CHEF TO CHOPPED Jen Biesty, chef and co-owner of Shakewell in Oakland, will appear on an episode of ‘Chopped,’ airing Sept. 17 at 9 p.m. and Sept. 18 at midnight on the Food Network. Biesty will be the second notable chef from Oakland to appear on the show this year, following a win from Rashad Armstead in July. But as many Bay Area diners know, this isn’t her first national television appearance — she is also a Top Chef alum, who competed on the show in 2007, while she was a chef at Coco500 in San Francisco. Biesty opened Spanish-inflected Shakewell in 2014, where it’s become an East Bay dining destination and Grand Lake neighborhood staple. We’re rooting for you, Jen!

UPDATE ON BOMBERA IN DIMOND Nosh received a tip from reader Bill Cucci with news that construction appears to have started at 3459 Champion St., the site of chef Dominica Rice-Cisneros’ upcoming Cosecha spin-off, Bombera Bar & Grill. Bombera will be a full-service Latin fusion restaurant in Oakland’s Dimond neighborhood, with food cooked in a wood oven and a mesquite grill. Word of Bombera first broke in 2017, when the East Bay Times reported that Rice would be taking over a former fire station for the restaurant (the word bombera translates to female firefighter in Spanish). Nosh heard from Carlos Salomon, co-owner at Cosecha, who said Bombera will likely open in July 2020. Bombera Bar & Grill, 3455 Champion St. (near Lincoln Ave.), Oakland

TP Tea will open on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley.
TP Tea will open on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. Photo: TP Tea

TCB AT TPT Frequent Nosh tipster Sean Rouse noticed that work is underway on Telegraph Avenue, at the space formerly occupied by Zip Clips in Southside Berkeley. Rouse said the new business called TP Tea has started construction inside, and has posted signs looking to hire staff. TP stands for Taiwan Professional, a brand owned by Chun Shui Tang, a Taiwanese company that purports to have invented boba milk tea in the early 1980s. The TP Tea brand was founded in 2005 in Hong Kong and has since expanded throughout Asia; there is currently one U.S. TP Tea location in Cupertino. As with many of the new school boba shops, TP Tea claims to use higher quality ingredients for its drinks, like freshly brewed premium grade teas, real taro and natural cane sugar. If you’re thinking, “wow another boba shop in Berkeley,” you’re not the only one. We count 18 bubble tea shops currently open in Berkeley, with many located just around the Cal campus. TP Tea will be at 2383 Telegraph Ave. (at Channing), Berkeley

NEW FRENCH LEBANESE WINE BAR Reader Amy Ferrara sent Nosh information about the new restaurant coming to the former Britt Marie space on Solano Avenue in Albany. Ferrara learned while attending the recent Solano Stroll that Chez Mansour will be opened by chef Ali Mansour, who previously ran Beirut Restaurant, a Lebanese eatery open for about four years in the late ’90s in Berkeley. Nosh was able to track down Mansour, who told us more details. Chez Mansour will be a wine bar offering small plates of French-Lebanese cuisine. Expect affordable dishes (ranging from $5 to $14) that pair well with “wines to meet every taste and every pocket.” Some of the finer wines will come from local, small family-owned wineries; the list will also focus on sparkling wines and Champagnes. Mansour, an Albany resident who lives close to the restaurant, said he wants to create a warm, welcoming place for people to gather, eat and drink. At Chez Mansour, there’ll be three large communal tables to encourage conversation and lots of plants and artwork to mimic a cozy living room-style atmosphere in the restaurant that seats a maximum of 65 guests. Mansour hopes to eventually host wine tasting events with local wineries, and will offer two daily happy hours (from 4-6 p.m. and 9-11 p.m.). Chez Mansour aims to soft open on Oct. 1, with a grand opening celebration on Oct. 5. It will be open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Chez Mansour, 1369 Solano Ave. (at Ramona), Albany

USE YOUR NOODLE Last year, Allison Arevalo, who co-founded mac ‘n cheese haven Homeroom in Oakland, was busy cooking pasta. A lot of pasta. Her project, Pasta Friday, had the chef cooking a different noodle recipe on a weekly basis that she shared with a changing group of about 50 family members, friends and strangers on Friday nights at her Rockridge home. The project took place over 52 weeks and resulted in a cookbook, released this month by Andrews McMeel Publishing. The Pasta Friday Cookbook: Let’s Eat Together is a collection of those 52 pasta recipes and 16 salads, arranged by season, as well as tips on how to build community with your own gathering. Arevalo, who now lives in New York, will be making two East Bay appearances to promote the book: On Sept. 26, Benchmark Oakland will host an author dinner in her honor, with two seatings at 5:30 and 8 p.m. For $100, diners will get a three-course meal, flowing house wine, a signed copy of the book; tax and gratuity are included in the price. Buy tickets and find the menu on Open Table. Then, from 2-4 p.m., Sept. 28, Arevalo will appear at Market Hall in Rockridge, for a free book signing event with tastings and demos featuring recipes from the book. Benchmark Oakland, 499 Ninth St. (at Washington), Oakland; Market Hall Foods Rockridge, 5655 College Ave. (at Shafter), Oakland 

KIDS EAT FREE! Now through Sept. 30, diners who purchase an adult entree will get a free kids meal at the Alameda location of fast-casual Indian street food restaurant, Curry Up Now. According to the East Bay Times, the deal is only offered at the Alameda outpost, so don’t even ask at the other five Bay Area location. The kid’s meal comes with a choice of five entrees, along with homemade potato chips, cookies and Bournvita, a malted chocolate milk drink. Curry Up Now Alameda, 2640 Fifth St. (at Singleton)Alameda  

Trumer Brewery in Berkeley. Photo: Steve Gumina

TRUMER OKTOBERFEST  In 2004, Austria’s Trumer Brauerei built a brewery in Berkeley to produce Trumer Pils for the U.S. market. Fifteen years later, the brewery is still going strong. On Sept. 21 — the first day of Oktoberfest — guests can tip back a stein and tip a hat to Trumer in Berkeley. Trumer Brewery will host a birthday celebration, when it will release its Oktoberfest Märzen, a medium-bodied, malty brew made in the classic German style. Trumer will also be pouring Trumer Pils and Kellerbier, a brewery-exclusive pour. Gaumenkitzel will serve traditional German eats, like Bavarian soft pretzels; Weißwurst, sauerkraut and spätzle; a knackwurst platter and a vegetarian strudel at the event. Lederhosen encouraged. Tickets are $15-35 ($7 for youngsters include a non-alcohol drink + pretzel). Trumer Brewery, 1404 Fourth St. (at Camelia), Berkeley  

NUMI TURNS 20 While you may have likely steeped a cup of tea made with Numi, we have a feeling you didn’t know this fun fact: The company was launched 20 years ago in an apartment in Oakland by Iraqi-born siblings, Ahmed and Reem Rahim. “Numi” is a type of dried lime tea the Rahims drank as children, and they started the company — which offers organic, premium and fair-trade tea — after finding the available types and quality of teas to be lacking. Although no longer run out of an apartment, Numi is still based in Oakland and is a B-certified corporation. Through its Numi Foundation, it works with local and global community groups on issues like providing safe and clean drinking water, and offering educational programs to low-income children. On Sept. 27, Numi will celebrate its 20th birthday and bring awareness to the work it’s doing with “Activating Purpose,” a gala featuring honorary hosts Mayor Libby Schaaf, Van Jones and Michael Franti. This formal attire affair will also include food, live music performances and more. Proceeds will benefit the Numi Foundation. Tickets are $200. The gala takes place 6-11 p.m., Sept. 27 at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center, 1527 Lakeside Dr. (between 14th and 17th), Oakland