Changes are afoot on the short block of Shattuck between University and Addison.
On Feb. 21, Sushi Ko, an affordable sushi and bento box restaurant, closed. A sign on its window read: “We are appreciate [sic] your support in our past long term operation. We wish the new business will gives [sic] different joyful experience to our local customers. … We will miss you!”
In its place will open a fried chicken wing and beer restaurant called Fire Wings. It appears that the Berkeley Fire Wings may be a branch of the Sacramento-based restaurant of the same name that serves 21 different flavors of chicken wings, plus salads and sides like mozzarella sticks, macaroni and cheese, and tater tots.
Much of the menu at the Sacramento location encompasses pan-Asian flavored wings such as Thai chili, teriyaki, Malaysian curry, “Korean Kick” and Sriracha. It is quite popular on Yelp, with many diners comparing it, favorably, to Wing Stop, a larger chicken wing chain.
When it opens, Fire Wings will likely have to compete with Bonchon, the New York City-based Korean fried chicken chain headed to Berkeley Way.
Across the street, Venus Café, the third location of a Hong Kong-style Asian fusion restaurant, is close to opening in the former Ichiban space.
Venus Café’s owner Peter Kwong was originally planning to open in fall 2015, but was stymied by a huge fire at next door restaurant Mandarin Garden on Nov. 27 of that year. The fire gutted Mandarin Garden and also caused extensive damage to the then fledgling Venus as well as to Patelco Credit Union. (Patelco reopened this week and is holding a grand reopening celebration Thursday March 9 from 1-4 p.m.)
The first location of Venus Café opened in Newark, CA in April 2005. It opened a second location in San Jose in August 2013. Its founder, Keman Tam, intends for the restaurant “to bring a taste of Hong Kong culture to America through some of the native delicacies and beverages,” according to the company website. This taste of Hong Kong culture encompasses wide-reaching Asian fusion combining dishes from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and China.
Its menu is extensive, and covers all meals of the day, including late-night snacks. Venus serves everything from ramen soup with Spam to Korean bibimbap to grilled meat and seafood skewers. It also offers an extensive tea and soy milk menu to complement its food offerings.
Venus Café Berkeley appears to be in its final stretch of construction; it is currently hiring and putting finishing touches to the restaurant interior.
Meanwhile, Ippudo, the New York City-based ramen restaurant that was scheduled to open on the same block in January, is still under construction.