Bites: Chef Tu David Phu’s BanhMi-Ni pop-up; the Cheese Board tables its tables; Donut Savant to close

A selection of sandwiches from Chef Tu David Phu's BanhMi-Ni pop-up. The lunch pop-up soft opens Thursday. Photo: BanhMi-Ni
A selection of sandwiches from Chef Tu David Phu’s BanhMi-Ni pop-up. The lunch pop-up soft opens Thursday. Photo: BanhMi-Ni

BANHMI-NI SOFT OPENING Chef Tu David Phu’s new banh mi lunch pop-up, BanhMi-Ni, soft opens Thursday, Oct. 3. Phu’s take on Vietnamese sandwiches will have the classic accoutrements, such as cilantro, cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots, jalapeño, mayonnaise and chicken pate, but will feature a twist on the proteins, which include choices like tamarind roast beef, ginger & scallion turkey, hoisin chicken, chashu pork and a vegetarian version made with Beyond sausage and sans smear of pate. All sandwiches come with a side of spicy cucumber or banana flower slaw, both of which can also be ordered as sides. Other menu items include chips; coconut Vietnamese coffee, mint lemonade and other refreshments; and desserts like coconut sticky rice and banana bread pudding. Banhmi-Ni will operate inside Copper Spoon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. A grand opening date is yet-to-be-announced. BanhMi-Ni at Copper Spoon, 4031 Broadway (between 40th and 41st), Oakland

CHEESE BOARD TABLES ITS TABLES We heard from a reader that something was up at the Cheese Board in North Berkeley. “Their usual patio tables/chairs were not set up — it’s like a familiar blanket pattern missing a huge patch,” the tipster wrote in an email to Nosh, adding that she had heard the Cheese Board was being fined by the City of Berkeley for setting up tables and chairs on the sidewalk that were blocking access in front of the store.

We checked in with the Cheese Board Collective this week and heard back from member Cathy Goldsmith, who confirmed its outdoor seating situation has changed. Goldsmith said the city has asked the worker-owned business to update its outdoor café permit, as many new requirements have come into law since the Cheese Board first started setting up tables outside. Should the Cheese Board not comply, it could be fined $100/day. The collective is currently working on getting up to code, which means it has stopped using its old patio furniture (its parklet and benches are still fair game). Goldsmith said the seating reduction is temporary, and that the collective hopes to come up with a solution that will satisfy requirements and most community members. “The goal is to make the sidewalk more accessible for pedestrians and still allow customers to sit at tables.” The Cheese Board, 1504 Shattuck Ave. and 1512 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine), Oakland

Boichik Bagels. Photo: Boichik/Instagram

WAITING FOR BOICHIK Emily Winston, owner of Boichik Bagels, has been getting a lot of emails (including from yours truly) and passersby popping in, asking her when she’s opening shop. Frequent Nosh contributor Alix Wall recently wrote a story for J. about the anticipation for Boichik, which when it finally opens, will be where Noah Alper opened the very first Noah’s Bagels. Although Noah’s claimed to be a New York bagel, most would say that claim is a stretch, so locals are hopeful to snag something closer to an East Coast version in Berkeley at Boichik. Unfortunately, a series of delays has continued to push back Boichik’s opening. In an email newsletter sent on Saturday, Winston apologized that the retail location wasn’t open for the High Holidays, but she’s hopeful to be up and running in late October or early November. We wish her luck! Boichik Bagels will be at 3170 College Ave. (at Alcatraz), Berkeley


GOODBYE, KINCAID’S After 33 years in business, Kincaid’s Fish, Chop & Steakhouse in Jack London Square has gone out to sea. The Bay Area News Group reported the restaurant closed over the weekend without prior notice, but that a sign on the door thanked customers for their patronage. Kincaid’s was owned by Restaurants Unlimited, which also owns four other Bay Area waterfront restaurants, including another Kincaid’s in Burlingame and Skates on the Bay in Berkeley. Restaurants Unlimited filed for bankruptcy in July and was purchased by another restaurant management group, Houston-based Landrys.

MARUGAME UPDATE Due to a staffing issue, the first East Bay location of Japanese restaurant chain Marugame Udon & Tempura had to postpone the grand opening of its Berkeley location, previously scheduled for Sept. 24. The cafeteria-style noodle shop ended up soft-opening last Tuesday for dinner-only service, and as expected, there have been lines out the door. Marugame’s marketing representative, Makoto Smith, followed up with Nosh to say the restaurant has been “very busy so far.” Smith also announced a new grand opening date, Oct. 28, when Marugame will expand its hours and offer the following promotions: 30% off all day; first 10 customers will receive a $10 gift card and all diners will have the opportunity to spin a prize wheel. Grand opening hours will be 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Marugame Udon & Tempura, Berkeley Way West, 1919 Shattuck Ave. (at Hearst), Berkeley   

A cron’t at Donut Savant. Photo: Cirrus Wood.

LEAVING BROADWAY Eater was first to report that Oakland’s Donut Savant is closing its shop at 1934 Broadway in downtown Oakland. Donut Savant — known for its artisanal flavors and its signature “cron’t” donut-croissant hybrid — will shutter Oct. 5 and reopen in a new, yet-to-be-announced location in East Oakland. The business shared the news on Instagram late last week, explaining the current “building is slated for demolition to make way for development on the block.” For its last days, Donut Savant will bring back “some of our most rare and dare we say, abstruse, varieties from the donut savant recipe vault” and will have extended hours Friday and Saturday. Donut Savant1934 Broadway (between 19th and 20th), Oakland

ANOTHER BERKELEY OG Thanks to tipster “Harold of Albany,” Nosh heard that Berkeley salad and panini spot Organic Greens is opening a new location on Solano Avenue in Berkeley, taking over a former Subway restaurant. The restaurant’s general manager Anthony Lozano told Nosh the business is looking to open in October, as soon as two weeks from now. “We wanted to open Oct 1, but some of our new equipment has been delayed,” Lozano wrote via email. This will be Organic Greens’ third location; its original restaurant in downtown Berkeley opened in 2016 and the Elmwood outpost early last year. Along with a variety of composed salads and grilled sandwiches, Organic Greens offers breakfast, açai bowls and a small selection of simple dinner entrees. Organic Greens will be at 1615 Solano Ave. (at Tacoma), Berkeley

SEASONS CHANGE Berkeley’s Third Culture Bakery has decided to go full mochi. Its flagship product, mochi muffins — along with its seasonal mochi donuts and waffles — use Mochiko rice flour, which gives the baked goods a wonderfully chewy and dense texture and makes them treats that gluten-free eaters can also enjoy. Following in the success of these products, Third Culture founders Sam Butarbutar and Wenter Shyu have decided to discontinue making their sole wheat flour-based collection — custard cakes. Instead, Third Culture has expanded its mochi muffin collection for a total of four flavors: original, ube (flavored with purple yam, pandan leaf and coconut), matcha and churro. And, it will add a new product, a mochi brownie made with TCHO chocolate.

The fall donut offerings include Thai tea, banana chocolate, spiced chai and guava cheesecake. The new mochi waffles will include one sweet version with house-made black sesame paste, black sesame whipped cream and buckwheat honey and a savory one called the Mochiyaki Waffle, a take on the Japanese street food dish okonomiyaki. The new menu is available now at Third Culture’s West Berkeley showroom. Third Culture Bakery, 2701 Eighth St. (at Carleton), Berkeley

DOÑA TOMÁS CLOSING DATE If you’ve been following our coverage, you likely already know Doña Tomás plans to close. In May, when the news was announced, owner Dona Savitsky didn’t yet have a final date for her 20-year-old sit-down Mexican restaurant, but that day has finally been determined: Doña Tomás will close Nov. 24. As noted in previous coverage, although the restaurant will shutter, Savitsky will open a counter-service eatery on Piedmont Avenue under the shortened name Doña. The new spot will take over a part of the former Chow Oakland building, where Savitsky plans to continue serving some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, along with brunch, weekday breakfast and an expanded bar menu. As for when Doña will open — that’s still in the works, but a representative for the restaurant tells us it will likely be sometime in mid-December. Doña Tomás, 5004 Telegraph Ave. (between 51st and 49th), Oakland

Mellana Café, a new neighborhood coffee shop coming to Longfellow in Oakland, pays tribute to a former business that once was at the same corner storefront.
Mellana Café, a new neighborhood coffee shop coming to Longfellow in Oakland, pays tribute to a former business that once was at the same corner storefront. Photo: Sarah Han

A TRIBUTE TO THE MELLANAS Over in Oakland’s Longfellow neighborhood, an upcoming coffee shop will pay homage to one of the historic neighborhood businesses that came before it. Mellana Café is named after Mellana Grocery, a former business run by Italian immigrants Peter and Mary Mellana who operated a delivery truck and opened a store below their family home. (Photos of the Mellanas and their business can be seen in the pages of Italian Oakland, Rick Malaspina’s book about the city’s Italian-American heritage.) When the Mellanas ran their grocery, the stretch on Grove Street (now Martin Luther King Jr., Way) was a streetcar corridor and a busy commercial strip run by fellow Italian immigrants. The bustling commerce came to an end after the Key Streetcar System was discontinued in the ’50s and the Grove-Shafter freeway divided the neighborhood in the ’60s. But Mellana Grocery closed even before then. In 1954, the former grocery store became Johnson’s Barber Shop, an African-American-owned business run by barber and reverend C.T. Johnson, who retired and closed the shop in September 2018.

Today, new owner Mohsin Aldabashi has transformed the storefront with gleaming white tile counters and a gold-lettered sign that harkens back to the grocery store. According to neighbors, Aldabashi plans “a friendly neighborhood” spot with an affordable menu. Nosh has reached out to Aldabashi for more details, but had not heard a response at time of publication. Mellana Café, 4539 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way (at 46th), Oakland 

VEG-FRIENDLY DELI Over in the Elmwood, Berkeley Organic Market and Deli (formerly Ashby Marketplace) just introduced its new “No-Meat Deli” menu. When owner Waheed Alsaidi took over the natural food store in March, he kept Ashby Marketplace’s deli offerings — mainly made-to-order sandwiches — but hinted the food might change. On Monday, the market started offering vegetarian and vegan Mediterranean fare, items such as Falafill Me Up, a falafel sandwich ($7); Chow Bowl, a vegan rice bowl with curry spinach and garbanzo ($10); and Ashby’s Fool, fava beans cooked with tomato, onion, parsley and lemon juice served in a bread bowl or with a side of bread ($9). Berkeley Organic Market and Deli, 2642 Ashby (at College), Berkeley

A WORLD-CLASS BBQ Bay Area immigrant chefs from Indonesia, Northern Iran and Mexico will share grilled dishes from their cultures at Saturday’s BBQ without Borders benefit event presented by New American Economy and No Immigrants No Spice. Chefs Siska Silatonga Marcus of San Francisco pop-up ChiliCali, Hanif Sadr of Berkeley pop-up Komaaj and mother-daughter team Ofelia Barajas and Reyna Maldonado of Oakland’s La Guerrera’s Kitchen will provide savory eats, and Priti Narayan of San Leandro’s Koolfi Creamery will serve up Indian-inspired frozen treats. Along with delicious food, guests will enjoy live music, dance performances, film screenings, art installations and more. Admission is $20 and includes entertainment, but food and drinks will be sold separately. Proceeds benefit The National Immigrant Justice Center and Pangea Legal Services. BBQ Without Borders takes place 5-9 p.m., Saturday at Impact Hub Oakland, 2323 Broadway (between 23rd and 24th), Oakland

Prints from Salvador Dalí's "Les Diners de Gala" series will be on view at Bedford Gallery as part of "Off Menu." Photo Courtesy of Bedford Gallery
Surrealist prints from Salvador Dalí’s “Les Diners de Gala” series will be on view at Bedford Gallery as part of “Off Menu.” Photo Courtesy of Bedford Gallery

THE ART OF EATING This Sunday, “Off Menu: Contemporary Art About Food” will open at Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek. The gastronomically themed show features works in various media by an international cast of 40 artists. Salvador Dalí’s “Les Diners de Gala,” a series of 12 surrealist food-focused prints from 1971, is the show’s main attraction, but if Dalí isn’t to your taste, “Off Menu” offers a variety of visual delights for all appetites, including paintings by Wayne Thiebaud and Kenny Scharf, sculptures by Valerie Hegarty and humorous dioramas by Minimiam. Opening reception with bites from Walnut Creek restaurants Heritage Eats, Broderick Roadhouse, Bounty Hunter, Burma 2 and True Food Kitchen takes place 3-5 p.m., Sunday. The exhibition runs through Dec. 15. Bedford Gallery, 1601 Civic Dr. (at N California), Walnut Creek