Bites: A pop-up at Berkeley Bowl West you won’t want to miss; Sesame, a Tiny Bakery; James Beard semifinalists

A toro burger from Masabāgā.
A toro burger from Masabāgā. Photo: Masabāgā

SUNDAY’S BEST An enticing mini food festival is taking place at Berkeley Bowl West Café this weekend. Headlining Sunday Fare is Masabāgā, the much-anticipated restaurant from renowned San Francisco sushi chef Masa Sasaki and Oakland restaurateur-chef, Chikara Ono. As first announced in December, Masabāgā will open a brick-and-mortar in Uptown at the former Hutch Bar & Kitchen, specializing in toro burgers, or fried fish sandwiches made with yellowfin tuna belly. The restaurant hoped for a February opening, but a Masabāgā representative told Nosh it’ll likely open in April, so Sunday is a chance to get a preview of what’s to come in a few months.

Joining Masabāgā will be several other local food purveyors serving up delicious eats and drinks, including Adam Lamoreaux and James Syhabout’s Old Kan Beer & Co. with fried chicken sandwiches and beer; PieTisserie with strawberry rhubarb; and Hoptonic with samples of its sparkling teas brewed with hops. We’re especially intrigued by a relatively new pop-up that’ll be joining the crew: Ōk’s Sandwich Shop, a four-month-old pop-up run by Oakland-based chef Albert Ok. Ōk’s (pronounced “Oaks”) specializes in sandwiches featuring house-prepared meats, pickles and sauces, many that combine Asian, American and Italian flavors; Ok says he calls his creations “culturally inspired” to avoid being pigeonholed. The chef has cooked for the past 13 years, including at lauded local spots like Iyasare, Corso, Aina, Namu Gaji, Maum and currently at Mago. For Sunday Fare, he’ll offer two sandwiches: Korean hoagies and Japanese egg and potato salad sandwiches. Ok, who is Korean-American, says the former is a mash-up of Korean BBQ, a torta and a Philly-style pork sandwich; it’s made with gochujang-marinated barbecue pork, house-made broccoli rabe kimchi, provolone and jack cheese, and a garlic aioli spread on a bolillo bun. The other is a double-decker ode to the Japanese convenience store sandwich. Sunday Fare takes place 5-7 p.m. at Berkeley Bowl West Café, 920 Heinz St. (at Ninth St), Berkeley 

P.S. If you can’t make Sunday Fare, a few of these vendors will be returning for a second, even bigger event on March 29 at Old Kan’s brewery in West Oakland, featuring Old Kan, Masabāgā, Yakitoriman, Hawking Bird, Always Aloha Shave Ice, Popoca, Ōk’s Sandwich Shop, Studio Miyabi and others. Stay tuned, we’ll have more info in the coming days.

Marykate McGoldrick makes beautiful cakes, many with fresh, seasonal fruits.
Marykate McGoldrick makes beautiful cakes, many with fresh, seasonal fruits. Photo: The Kebabery

OPEN SESAME When the second location of the Kebabery finally opens in South Berkeley, there’ll be another reason to celebrate. As first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Russell Moore, Allison Hopelain and Brian Crooke’s fast-casual kebab shop on Shattuck Avenue will also be the home for Oakland baker Marykate McGoldrick’s first brick-and-mortar, a spot she’s calling Sesame, a Tiny Bakery. McGoldrick was a former pastry chef at Camino — Moore and Hopelain’s restaurant on Grand Avenue that closed in 2018 — and since then, has been baking cakes, cookies and other pastries as MK Gold Bakery. McGoldrick distinguishes herself from other bakers by incorporating uncommon flours for baking (buckwheat and rye, for example), with seasonal and organic fruits, and other flavors that tend to be more savory rather overly sweet. She started a subscription cake club while at Camino, and also appears at pop-ups, including at the Kebabery’s original location in North Oakland, and Bartavelle in Berkeley, where she also worked in the past.


According to the Chronicle, Sesame will share a kitchen with the Kebabery, but the bakery will have its own dedicated space (about 100 square feet) and its own entrance. As for what’ll be on the menu, McGoldrick told Nosh, “I hope to have some seasonal sweet and savory tarts available in the mornings showcasing local fruit + veg (my favorite Tuesday Farmer’s Market is around the corner from Sesame!), and then offer cake slices and cookies throughout the day. We hope to serve cake slices at night from the Kebabery as well for post dinner dessert. We also have some exciting ideas in the works about special events we can collaborate on with our unique model and shared space.”

McGoldrick is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter for Sesame and has already surpassed her $20,000 goal, with more than 20 days left of the campaign. She told Nosh she’s incredibly grateful for the support and that she “can’t wait to make more cake for the community and to collaborate again with Russ, Allison, Brian and the Kebabery team.”

If all goes as planned, the bakery (and the Kebabery) will open this summer. In the meantime, on March 8, from 5-8 p.m., McGoldrick will be popping up at the Oakland Kebabery (at 4201 Market St.) with chocolate cake. This ain’t no Duncan Hines — McGoldrick soaks the rich, chocolately sponge with Seville orange syrup and adds layers of a fancy Dancy tangerine marmalade, hazelnut meringue, brandy pastry cream and chocolate frosting. Yum! Whole 6″ cakes are available for $35 by advance reservation via email, and there’ll also be a limited amount of slices to enjoy on site. Sesame, a Tiny Bakery will be at 2969 Shattuck Ave. (at Ashby Avenue), Berkeley

JAMES BEARD AWARD SEMIFINALISTS Today, the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists were announced. All the East Bay semifinalists were also semifinalists last year, and in some cases, have been recognized at this stage of the awards several years in a row. The 2020 East Bay contenders are: Great China in Berkeley for Outstanding Wine Program; Lance Winters from St. George Spirits in Alameda and Yoshihiro Sako of Den Sake Brewery in Oakland for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer; and James Syhabout in the category of Best Chef: California for heading his two Michelin-starred restaurant Commis in Oakland. Congratulations to the semifinalists and we wish them luck in making the next cut!

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FRESH UPDATE The Berkeley follow-up to El Cerrito favorite Noodles Fresh has recently passed its final inspections and will open this Sunday, according to co-owner Tom Petersen. As Nosh first reported in October, the Shattuck Avenue location will serve many of the same Chinese stir-fried noodles, soup bowls and rice plates for lunch as its popular San Pablo Avenue spot, but boast a whole new menu for dinner service. Noodles Fresh will celebrate its grand opening with an early morning ribbon cutting and lion dance performance on Sunday at 8:45 a.m. Noodles Fresh, 2430 Shattuck Ave. (at Channing), Berkeley

Lush at Epicurious Garden is now under the ownership of Gelato Classico.
Lush at Epicurious Garden is now under new ownership, serving both Lush Gelato and Gelato Classico products. Photo: Sarah Han

COLD CHANGE Nosh reader Alexandra Singer wrote to let us know that Lush Gelato at 1511 Shattuck Ave. at North Berkeley’s  Epicurious Garden has been bought by a new owner. Lush Gelato was founded on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland in 2009 by Federico Murtagh, a self-taught gelataio, who gained a fanbase for his luscious scratch-made creations, many which use local, organic ingredients from purveyors like Bellwether Farms, McEvoy Ranch, Happy Boy Farm, Riverdog Farm and Cowgirl Creamery. Lush opened in Berkeley in April 2010, taking over after Ciao Bella Gelato left the space.

We stopped by the Epicurious Garden counter on Tuesday afternoon, where we spoke with a Lush Gelato employee who confirmed the ownership change. Lush’s original Oakland shop quietly closed in recent months, and as Hoodline reports, will soon become a Mr. Dewie’s; the San Francisco location on Polk Street, which Murtagh opened in 2015, closed in January. Murtagh confirmed the East Bay closures with Berkeleyside, but said he still owns a shop in North Beach. He refused to answer any other questions we had.

The shop in Berkeley is still operating under the Lush name, and for now, offers a few of its own flavors, but many have been replaced by ones from Gelato Classico, a 44-year-old Concord-based brand. The employee did not know whether the business would eventually transition to an entirely Gelato Classico menu, or if the store would keep offering both brands.

A LITTLE SUGAR AT OMCA Last week, the Oakland Museum of California announced it was partnering with Brown Sugar Kitchen chef Tanya Holland to open a new museum café to replace Blue Oak Café, which closed this week. Called Town Fare, it will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner serving Holland’s famous soul food. The updated café is part of the museum’s campus renovation, which started in September 2019 and will be finished in early 2021.

In a press release from OMCA, Holland explains the name of the upcoming eatery: “The word ‘Fare’ to me means being accessible, unpretentious, and delicious, which will guide the vision for this new project.” The menu will feature “high-quality yet approachable” dishes, including some of Brown Sugar Kitchen’s bestsellers. Other noteworthy details: Town Fare will serve alcohol, offer catering and have outdoor seating on OMCA’s three adjacent patios.

Town Fare is looking at an August opening; expected hours of service are 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday, with dinner offered until 10 p.m., Friday evenings for its popular Friday Nights at OMCA. Town Fare will be at 1000 Oak St. (at 11th Street), Oakland

A TASTE OF JALISCO Uptown Oakland Oaxacan restaurant Calavera will be hosting a special dinner Monday night dedicated to the western Mexican state of Jalisco. The four-course tasting menu starts with guacamole verde, a version of the ubiquitous avocado dip that transcends others with the addition of Oaxacan chapulines (grasshoppers) and chicatanes (flying ants). It’ll be paired with an Italian Lambrusco. But the next three courses — chicken and cheese flautas, Guajillo-marinated lamb birria and a Jalisco-style flan — will be paired with pours from Mezonte, a Jalisco-based organization that supports traditional small-batch makers of agave-based spirits. Tickets are $80 per person (not including tax & gratuity); call Calavera for reservations or purchase tickets online. Calavera, 2337 Broadway (at 24th Street), Oakland 

Sarah Han is Nosh editor at Berkeleyside. Email: sarah@berkeleyside.com.