Photo: Blue Bottle Coffee/Facebook

Openings, closings

BLUE BOTTLE BERKELEY SETS OPENING DATE Downtown Berkeley coffee drinkers will not have to wait much longer for their Blue Bottle fix. The Oakland-based coffee company’s new café at 2011 Shattuck Ave. has set as soft opening date for Sept. 23, according to workers at the construction site. (Ippudo, the New York-based ramen restaurant to open next door, is still under heavy construction.) It will be the third East Bay location for Blue Bottle, which also has locations in Jack London Square and in the W.C. Morse building on Broadway, in addition to eight other Bay Area cafés and 15 locations in Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo. Although downtown Berkeley has a Peet’s, a couple of Starbucks and coffee sources such as PIQ and Lindgren’s Café, it has not yet housed a brick-and-mortar spot for one of the more fashionable third-wave coffee brands. However it’s not the first time Blue Bottle has been served in Berkeley. For many years it had the coffee contract for the Berkeley farmers market. That was taken over by Red Bay Coffee earlier this year. And Guerilla Café, at 1620 Shattuck, then co-owned by Red Bay founder Keba Konte, was the first coffee shop to serve Blue Bottle when the company was still in its early days. Blue Bottle Coffee will be at 2011 Shattuck Ave. (at University Avenue), Berkeley. Connect with the coffee company on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The new Four Barrel coffee roaster in Jack London Square. Photo: Courtesy Four Barrel Coffee

FOUR BARREL COFFEE TO JACK LONDON SQUARE In other coffee news, it looks like San Francisco’s Four Barrel Coffee is opening a roastery in Jack London Square. Firebrand Artisan Bread, which is now serving Four Barrel’s coffee in its bakery café, posted a photo of the new roasting facility on its Instagram feed earlier this week. UPDATE: Today was the first day the new roaster was turned on, according to Derek Davis, a social media and marketing representative from Four Barrel, and Four Barrel will begin roasting there next week. The Oakland roasting facility will soon become the main production facility for the coffee company, roasting the beans sold to area cafés and retail markets. Four Barrel’s original roastery, in its Valencia Street location, will continue to be used to roast beans for its San Francisco cafés. As of yet, no Four Barrel café is planned for the space, but Davis said that’s “not to say that we’re not toying with the idea and that it won’t happen down the line in a year or so.” Connect with Four Barrel Coffee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

A pot of green tea during a Blue Willow Tea sourcing trip. Photo: Ali Roth

BLUE WILLOW TEASPOT MAKING PROGRESS This spring, we tipped you off to a new tea house being opened by Berkeley’s Blue Willow Tea. Owner Ali Roth has been working on the build-out for the Blue Willow Teaspot for several months, and is now planning to open early this fall in the Gilman district. Roth is currently raising the remaining funds needed for finishing the space and updating packaging on Kickstarter. The Teaspot will serve teas as they are prepared “at their origin,” and will also feature a dedicating cupping room and traditional Japanese tea room for serving ceremonial-grade matcha, according to Blue Willow Kickstarter page. Tea will be sold by the ounce, and the “atmosphere will be cozy and welcoming and offer comfortable seating and wifi. In addition, we’ve heard from Algorithm Coffee owner Aaron Hubbard that his coffees will be served as well. Blue Willow Teaspot will be at 1200 10th St. (at Harrison Street), Berkeley.

Fish tacos at Saigon Deli. Photo: Emily Laskin

CLOSED: SAIGON DELI SANDWICH AND TACOS VALPARAISO Sadly, we will no longer be able to get Vietnamese-Mexican hybrid banh mis in Oakland. Saigon Deli Sandwich and Tacos Valparaiso has officially closed, reported the East Bay Express. The unique restaurant on International Boulevard was one of our favorite spots for fish tacos, and was certainly the only place serving al pastor banh mi sandwiches. Co-owner Tony Torres told EBX that his business partner, Dieu Ngo, was having health problems and decided to sell. Saigon Deli has now been replaced with another (standard) banh mi shop called Mom’s Bun Mi. The EBX says that Mom’s Bun Mi is a transplant from San Francisco, and that it originally continued Saigon Deli’s fusion menu. Recently, however, it has stopped selling tacos. Torres told EBX that he hopes to at least find a new location for the taco portion of his menu; he isn’t sure if he’ll bring back the Vietnamese menu as well. Mom’s Bun Mi is at 1414 14th Ave. (at International Boulevard), Oakland.

Tharaphu Burmese Street Food. Photo: Kate Williams

BOBO DRINKS NOW THARAPHU BURMESE STREET FOOD In a blink of an eye, the downtown Berkeley location of BOBO Drinks has transformed into Tharaphu Burmese Street Food. According to Facebook, BOBO Drinks shuttered as of Sept 5. On Sept. 7, we saw diners eating at Tharaphu. BOBO Drinks had been experimenting with special Burmese menus since the beginning of 2016, according to Chowhound. Nosh spoke with a manager at Tharaphu, who said that the owners of BOBA drinks decided to change the business to focus exclusively on Burmese cuisine due to competition from other boba tea cafés. Tharaphu is serving a fairly short menu of classic dishes, such as a tea leaf salad (with a cabbage base), coconut noodle soup, Shan noodles and mohinga fish chowder. Notably, Tharaphu is also offering a few signature dishes from specific Burmese cities and regions: wet tha dote htoe (marinated pork offal from Yangon), Mandalay meeshay noodles with pork and sour pickled, kut kyee kaik (aka “scissor-bitten noodles”) with seafood and chicken, and tofu nwe (chickpea tofu porridge with rice noodles from the Shan state). Tharaphu Burmese Street Food is at 2037 Shattuck Ave. (at Addison Street), Berkeley.

The Chocolate Dragon Photo: Tracey Taylor

TIDBITS: THE CHOCOLATE DRAGON, LITTLE GEM WAFFLES Last year, David Salowich sold the College Avenue location of Bittersweet Café to a longtime employee. Now, with the closure this spring of the downtown Oakland Bittersweet Café, the remaining café has been renamed The Chocolate Dragon. The Chocolate Dragon serves both coffee and chocolate drinks, plus an assortment of chocolate-y baked goods, of course. In Berkeley, we’ve learned that Little Gem Belgian Waffles is now open for breakfast. (Makes sense.) During the first week of breakfast service, the café is offering 50% off its breakfast flavors, which are, according to the café’s Facebook page, 20% less sweet than its regular dessert waffles. Little Gem’s breakfast hours run from 7:30 a.m. to noon, Tues-Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon, Sat-Sun.  The Chocolate Dragon is at 5427 College Ave. (at Kales Avenue), Oakland. Little Gem Belgian Waffles is at 2468-A Telegraph Ave. (at Haste Street). Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.

Dinners and events

Foxtail millet. Photo: The Millet Project/Facebook

THE MILLET EXHIBIT UC Berkeley’s Millet Project is hosting its second “Millet Exhibit” Sept 11 at the Gill Tract Community Farm, starting at noon. The free event will offer tastings of millet-based beer and food, as well as a tour of the farm’s millet fields. Farmers and scientists will be in attendance to answer questions. The Millet Project tests small-scale cultivation for the gluten-free grain in different regions in Northern California. It has currently grown five types of millets using seed money from the Berkeley Food Institute. Now, The Millet Project is raising a second round of funding through a UC Berkeley crowdfunding campaign in order to keep the project going next year. Learn more about The Millet Exhibit hereConnect with The Millet Project on Facebook and Twitter.

HEN HOUSE BREWING AT COMAL Saison-style beer lovers take note: HenHouse Brewing will be co-hosting a five course meal at Berkeley’s Comal Sept. 13. The $75 menu, which will be served in the restaurant’s private dining room, will include beer pairings at every course. Highlights include a clam tamale paired with an San Francisco Bay oyster stout and a braised duck enchilada with almond/chile puya mole paired with Honest Day’s Work, a red rye saison. HenHouse’s Sayre Piotrkowski will be in the room to chat and answer questions. Tickets are available hereComal is at 2020 Shattuck Ave (between University Avenue and Addison Street). Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter. Connect with HenHouse Brewing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Kate Williams

Kate Williams has been writing about food since 2009. After spending two years developing recipes for cookbooks at America’s Test Kitchen, she moved to Berkeley and began work as a freelance writer and...