ON A ROLL Mike Lawrence and Suki van Arsdale are the duo behind a new vegan sushi pop-up called Salvage Hausu, which debuted this past Monday at Café Encina in North Oakland. Their first event had such a high turnout, they got a bit backed up with orders and had to stop service earlier than expected. Fortunately, van Arsdale — who runs the operation’s front of house — told Nosh, “people were understanding and cool,” and this first go will help them prepare for their next pop-up at Encina later this month.
Lawrence is the chef behind Salvage Hausu. He’s worked in the kitchens of Portal and Philomena in Oakland, but the chef said the inspiration for this project came to him about a year ago, after he started eating vegan one a day a week in an effort to lower his carbon footprint. From there, his interest in creating new vegan food options snowballed.
For Salvage Hausu, Lawrence makes almost everything from scratch, sourcing local produce and other plant-based ingredients as stand-ins for the fish in his maki. Salvage Hausu’s opening menu offered five rolls, including a spicy “tuna,” prepared with tomato; a Dragon roll that transforms eggplant into the braised “eel;” and the Green Spider, featuring torched asparagus, tofu “crab” and a seaweed-based stand-in for capelin roe. Intrigued? The next pop-up takes place 5-10 p.m. (or until sold out, which may happen sooner than later, if Monday’s event was any sign), Dec. 30. Follow Salvage Hausu on Instagram for information about future pop-ups. Salvage Hausu at Café Encina, 308 41st St. (at Broadway), Oakland
LA NOTE-WORTHY Last month, Dorothée Mitrani, owner of popular brunch spot La Note in downtown Berkeley, lost many of the things most precious to her — including her three dogs — when a fire erupted at her house on Oxford Street. Because the flames destroyed almost all of her possessions, Mitrani’s friends started a GoFundMe campaign, raising almost $35,000, and this month, they’re hosting a benefit event in her honor to help her out even further. On Dec. 29, from 3-5 p.m., the community is invited to the Art House Gallery & Cultural Center, where there will be a raffle, silent auction, live music, bites and refreshments. Art House Gallery & Cultural Center, 2905 Shattuck Ave. (at Russell Street), Berkeley
REST IN PEACE, RICHARD MAZZERA Over the weekend, a well-respected and well-loved Berkeley restaurateur left the world. Richard Mazzera, a founder of North Berkeley Spanish tapas restaurant César, died on Dec. 15 after a year-long battle with bladder cancer.
Twelve years before opening César, Mazzera was a business manager at Chez Panisse, who helped the restaurant go digital with its payroll and inventory systems. In 1998, he left Chez to start his own tapas bar next door, with partners Dennis Lapuyade and Stephen Singer. César spawned a follow-up restaurant, Bar César on Piedmont Avenue, and has been a stomping grounds for many great chefs, bartenders and restaurant professionals over its 21 years. With his wife Terumi, Mazzera opened two other restaurants: Assemble Restaurant in Richmond and Table food + drink in Rancho Santa Fe, a community in San Diego County. (Read more about the departed restaurateur in Mazzera’s obituary published on Berkeleyside.)
BAGA TIME Renowned San Francisco sushi chef Masa Sasaki is opening an intriguing new restaurant in downtown Oakland. According to Eater, he will be taking over the former Hutch Bar & Kitchen, where he’ll specialize in burgers made with premium ingredients, like wagyu beef and toro, or tuna belly. Sasaki is best known for his impeccable omakase, from his previous days at Michelin-starred Maruya and now, at his own eponymous restaurant, Sasaki in SF’s Mission District. For Masabaga, Sasaki will partner with another sushi master, Chikara Ono of B-Dama, Delage and Utzutzu. In November, Masabaga debuted three “baga” (Japanese for “burger”) creations at “Oaktown Matsuri,” a pop-up that Ono curated at Old Kan Beer. They served a wagyu burger, made with beef from Washugyu in Oregon and a fried chicken sandwich, but Masabaga’s standout offering is a burger made with yellowfin tuna belly. Breaded in panko and deep fried, the tuna belly is topped with lettuce, radish, onions and mint with a shiso vinegar sauce. Sasaki tells Eater that Masabaga aims to open in February, and will throw preview pop-ups in advance. Masabaga will be at 2022 Telegraph Ave. (between 20th and 21st streets), Oakland
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HELLO! CRAB SEASON On Sunday, sustainable Berkeley/San Francisco-based wholesale and retail seafood distributor Monterey Fish Market posted a video on Instagram of fishermen at Pier 45 loading up a huge plastic container full of live crabs. Yes, after a month delay, crab season has officially hit the Bay Area! In case you were wondering what was causing the hold up — it was on account of whales, which were still lingering in commercial crab fishing areas last month. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife held back commercial crab season to ensure humpback and other whales wouldn’t get caught in the crab lines or fishing nets.
Local restaurants have been anxiously waiting for crab season to get underway, and now that it’s started, several eateries are rolling out dishes, meals and events focused on the crustacean. Some of those crabs seen in the Monterey Fish Market video above may find their way into the crab tostadas at Cosecha at Swan’s Market in Old Oakland. Dopo on Piedmont Avenue will be serving crab in manicotti, and on Christmas Eve, in risotto. And Sister on Grand Avenue has announced that starting Dec. 31, it’ll start Crab Tuesdays, a weekly affair, where they’ll serve whole or half Dungeness crabs, paired with absinthe cocktails. Also on New Year’s Eve, the Kebabery in Oakland will host a Crabby New Year’s Eve Feast, harkening back to the Crab Monday meals at former big sister restaurant, Camino, which it used to host around this time of year. Cosecha, 907 Washington Street (at Ninth Street), Oakland; Dopo, 4293 Piedmont Ave. (near John Street), Oakland; Sister, 3308 Grand Ave. (between Mandana Boulevard and Santa Clara Avenue), Oakland; The Kebabery, 4201 Market St. (at 42nd Street), Oakland
A SEAT AT THE TABLE AlaMar chef-owner Nelson German is getting ready to open his first cocktail bar. As the Chronicle first reported, Sobre Mesa will be an Afro-Latino lounge that will open early next year in Uptown Oakland, in the space last occupied by short-lived bar, The Payback. German will work with Susan Eggett of Last Rites in San Francisco to create a menu of tropical cocktails made with small-batch liquors that bring to mind libations you might sip in the Dominican Republic, Cuba or Puerto Rico. As for bites, Nelson will offer a variety of seasonal small plates with Latin flavors that complement the drinks. A press release shared with Nosh explains the bar’s name, which translates to “over the table” in Spanish, and “refers to what you do after the meal, once the hunger has passed and real conversation can begin.” For German, who’s from the Dominican Republic, the name is meant to represent what he wants the bar to be — an approachable and inclusive space for all types of people to gather, enjoy drinks, food and good conversation. Sobre Mesa will be at 1618 Franklin St. (at 17th Street), Oakland
A LOSS FOR OAKLAND Oakland is losing two gay bars next month. According to the Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco-based real estate company Ellis Partners has asked Club 21 and Club BNB to vacate the property on Franklin and 21st Street in downtown Oakland by Jan. 15 because the firm “wants to transition the property to office use.” The last day of service for both bars will be Jan. 12. Nosh featured Club 21 and Club BNB in our story about the changing role of queer spaces in the East Bay, noting how both clubs have been safe spaces for gay people of color: Club 21 for the Latinx community and Club BNB for the black community. When interviewed by Nosh, Carlos Uribe, the general manager of both bars, put it this way: “We have our own marginalized communities within the queer community and we want to make sure that the representation is there. It’s part of our responsibility as owners and operators of gay or historically gay and queer spaces to push the envelope to make sure that we’re evolving with our community.” As noted by the Bay Area Reporter, when Club 21 and Club BNB close, downtown Oakland will only have one remaining gay bar: The Port Bar at 2023 Broadway.
DREYER’S UPDATE In July, Nosh was the first to report about the closure of Dreyer’s flagship ice cream parlor and café on College Avenue. At the time, parent company Nestlé did not have much to share about their plans for the property, just that the Switzerland-based corporation had made a decision to make “some modifications” that resulted in the shop’s closure. This week, Bay Area News Group reported that Nestlé has sold the former parlor, along with several of its other properties in the Rockridge district. According to public records filed on Dec. 3 with Alameda County, the new buyers are Emeryville-based developer Libitzky Property Cos., which through an affiliate, bought the parcels (which are also home to the Nestle Dreyer’s Cronk Center and sites for retailers, Katrina Rozelle Pastries and Desserts and Crossroads Trading) for $41 million. Libitizky’s plans for the properties have yet to be announced.
Bay Area News Group’s reporting further clarifies the “modifications” that Nestlé spoke of may likely refer to the company’s desire to get out of the ice cream business. On Dec. 12, Nestlé sold its U.S. ice cream business (which includes Dreyer’s, Haagen-Dazs, Edy’s, Skinny Cow, Drumstick, and Outshine brands) to UK-based ice cream maker, Froneri Ltd for $4 billion. Froneri, it should be noted, is a joint venture that Nestlé created with U.K.-based R&R Ice Cream, which is owned by French private equity firm PAI Partners.