Bites: Chick’n Rice coming to Berkeley, Swan’s Market turns 100, Duende deal

Get caught up on this week’s noteworthy East Bay food news and events.

Khao Mun Gai, a Thai street food, will be the speciality at Chick’n Rice in Berkeley. Photo: Chick’n Rice

CHICK’N RICE BRINGS KHAO MUN GAI TO BERKELEY Umai Hospitality Group, aka the startup that created the food delivery service Caviar, was founded by UC Berkeley alums, so it’s not surprising that they’re basing their next project, a new Thai restaurant chain, in Berkeley. The story goes that the founders — Jason Wang, Shawn Tsao, Vince Cao and John Keh — took a trip to Thailand, where they got a taste for khao mun gai, a poached chicken dish served over rice (the Thai street food version of Hainanese chicken rice). They were so smitten with the dish that they created a whole restaurant concept around it. Chick’n Rice will be a fast-casual restaurant that will specialize primarily in khao mun gai. Diners can order the dish made-to-order with either chicken, fried chicken, braised pork or vegetables, which will be served with rice, sliced cucumbers, a sweet and sour dipping sauce and a side of chicken broth soup. The plan is for the first Chick’n Rice to open in downtown Berkeley sometime in August. If all goes well, more locations will open across the whole U.S. of A. Chick’n Rice will be at 2136 Center St. (between Shattuck and Oxford) in Berkeley.

RED BAY COFFEE BOX CELEBRATES 1st YEAR WITH FREE COFFEE Oakland’s Red Bay Coffee is throwing a party on Saturday, July 22, for its first year at the Hive in Uptown. This Red Bay location, called the Coffee Box, was built out of a converted shipping container made possible from crowdfunding, which raised $80,000 via Kickstarter. Saturday’s free celebration takes place from noon to 6 p.m. and will feature free drip coffee, music by DJ Dreams and a live band, plus more community fun. The Red Bay Coffee Box is at 2327 Broadway (between 23rd and 24th streets), Oakland. 

The gourmet food hall at Swan’s Market. Photo: Sarah Han

100 YEARS OF SWAN’S MARKET Speaking of birthdays, Old Oakland’s historic marketplace, affordable living space and food lover’s paradise Swan’s Market is on the brink of celebrating a big one — 100 years! The East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, the group that spearheaded the redevelopment of Swan’s Market in the late ’90s and established Swan’s as a gourmet restaurant hall in 2012 with the addition of eateries like Cosecha, B-Dama and Miss Ollie’s, will host two days of free community events this weekend to commemorate its centennial. On Friday, July 21, the weekend shindig kicks off from 4-8 p.m. There’ll be cake and ice cream, live music and an “I am Swan’s Market” StoryCorps booth. On Saturday, July 22, from noon to 6 p.m., the festivities continue with an Old Oakland Open House, tours, three stages of live jazz performances, a community dance party, demos and more. Swan’s Market is at Washington St. (at Ninth Street), Oakland.

ENDGAME CAFÉ SHUTTERS More news from Swan’s Market. Last week we learned from tipster Grace Suh that game store EndGame has closed its café at 921 Washington St. EndGame Café opened on March 14, 2016 and was a crowdfunded coffeeshop located in the space next door to its retail space. EndGame owners posted a long notice on the café’s doors on July 3 (and reposted it on its Kickstarter page), explaining its closure on July 9: “Plain and simple, our plans didn’t work as we hoped. We never had the evening adoption we’d hoped for, the neighborhood had a terribly slow convention season our first full year, and in the end, sales just didn’t meet whats necessary to keep the cafe open. Our model was super staff heavy, and our sales never caught up to that cost (with a few exceptionally good conventions). Ultimately, our plans were ambitious, and we as owners failed to make them work.” The notification goes on to explain that the future for the game store itself is murky, mostly depending on whether the landlords will allow the store to keep its lease.

3-COURSE DINNER DEAL AT DUENDE Paul Canales’ Uptown Spanish eatery Duende has a new dinner special that deal-lovers will want to know about. On Sunday and Monday nights, Duende will offer a three-course meal, consisting of a single-serving of paella, a tapa and a dessert for $28. (Duende normally serves its paellas in portions for two or four, and are priced at $40 for two servings, $78 for four, so this deal is a good one!) On each night of the deal, diners will have a choice between two paellas. And, there’ll also be drink specials too, like wine flights for $16, sangria for $8 a glass or $28 for a pitcher and Estrella beers for $4. Duende Restaurant & Bodega is at 468 19th St. (at Telegraph), Oakland.

IPPUDO TO OPEN NEXT WEEK! Head’s up: Ippudo in Berkeley is finally (FINALLY!) opening next week on Friday, July 28. Ippudo already has opened several restaurants in Asia, London, Australia, as well as two in New York City, but West Coasters have been waiting with bated breath for the Berkeley outpost, as well as another impending Bay Area location in San Francisco that will open later this year. The Japanese ramen chain, first founded by Shigemi Kawahara back in 1985, has gained a rabid following for its Hakata tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen. Lucky us, we’ve been invited for a sneak peek at Ippudo Berkeley next week. Stay tuned on Nosh, we’ll give you our first impression of our first visit. Ippudo is at 2011 Shattuck Ave. (at University), Berkeley.

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Sarah Han is Senior Editor, Nosh of Berkeleyside and Oaklandside. Email: