AlaMar reopens its dining room with a fresh new menu

Also: the Royal Egyptian has been robbed; Walnut Creek’s restaurant boom; more Bites.

A selection of dishes from alaMar’s new dining room menu. Credit: Dana Plucinski

AlaMar is suspending takeout and delivery for now, and will focus on in-person dining

Throughout the pandemic, chef/owner Nelson German kept alaMar, his seven-year-old Asian/Cajun/Dominican seafood destination open for delivery and takeout — even as, he told me earlier this year, “we were barely breaking even.” But while German’s other area restaurant, the cocktail-centric Sobre Mesa, started serving patrons on-site in March, alaMar remained a takeout-only operation.

Given that, alaMar worried neighbors last week when it went completely dark. But as previously noted, that shutdown was just a quick remodel to ready its dining room for company. And yesterday it quietly reopened its doors to diners, a restaurant spokesperson says, with a couple of changes.

First, there won’t be any more counter ordering: this is a sit-down affair, only. That also means that takeout and delivery are suspended for now, as the restaurant readjusts to the rhythm of in-person dining (“it will be back soon,” the spokesperson says). And for now, alaMar is an evening spot, only, as neither weekend brunch nor weekday lunch is on offer.

It’s also got a new menu, a tightly-edited selection of small plates and mains. New items include a roasted oyster dish with pork longaniza and — for fans of German’s spin through Top Chef — a stuffed masa small plate that nods to the “Unidentified Dominican Object” he prepared on the most recent season of the cooking competition. Also of note is the oxtail, a comforting dish that’s long been on alaMar’s “secret menu.” These days, it appears the secret is out. AlaMar’s new hours are Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. AlaMar Kitchen & Bar, 100 Grand Ave. (near Valdez Street), Oakland

Royal Egyptian Cuisine’s barbecue train (above) was stolen this week. Credit: Royal Egyptian Cuisine/Facebook

The Royal Egyptian food truck has been robbed (again)

Since 2012, East Bay residents have been lining up at the Royal Egyptian Cuisine food truck, a roving vehicle piloted by chef Elmy Kader. The business is a labor of love for Kader, an Egyptian immigrant who launched the slogan-emblazoned truck after retiring from a lengthy trucking career

“This is not your regular food truck,” Kader repeats regarding his gyro, falafel, and barbecue business. “This is a gourmet restaurant on wheels.” But that restaurant hit a bump in recent days, the spot announced on Twitter, when someone entered the yard at 2783 East 12th St. where Kader keeps his truck and “stole his BBQ train.” The theft is the second one the business has suffered in recent weeks, as on July 8, Kader tweeted, the truck’s catalytic converter was stolen, a heist that caused significant damage to the vehicle “but nothing will stop me from feeding you,” Kader said.

The restaurant asks that anyone with leads on the train theft (that’s a photo of it, above) contact Kader at royal.egyptian.cuisine1@gmail.com. Otherwise, keep an eye out for Kader’s truck at its usual spot on Folger Avenue just off San Pablo in Berkeley (it’s typically there from 11:30-3:30 Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays), where Kader hopes to resume business shortly.

A rendering of The Foundry, a 20-vendor Walnut Creek food hall with an as-yet-unknown opening date. Credit: The Foundry/Instagram

Walnut Creek is home to a slew of new restaurants

You likely saw the SF Chronicle’s report that “popular Bay Area restaurateurs are flocking to” Walnut Creek, and their assessment isn’t wrong. Yes, readers contacted Nosh to complain that some of places the article cites, including Burma 2, Manakish Oven & Grill and that city’s location of mini-chain Bierhaus, are a couple years old, but the piece also mentions Nora Haron-helmed Table at 7 (scroll down for details on that soon-to-open spot here), a new matcha cafe from Berkeley’s Third Culture Bakery and The Foundry, a planned 16,749-square-foot food hall from area real estate guy Brian Hirahara that promises 20 vendors on an as-yet-unknown opening date.

A spin through local blogs reveals a couple more openings in the city, enough to justify a “flocking to” claim, I think. Beyond the Creek reports that Singapore chain Bober Tea & Coffee, which boasts only two U.S. locations (both in Sacramento), will open a Walnut Creek shop in the Plaza Escuela shopping mall. According to a Facebook post from the company, the dessert and tea (fruit, cheese, brown sugar, and beyond) shop’s franchisee is Johanna Calixtro, a fresh face in the region’s food business after a two decade career in healthcare. An opening date has yet to be announced.

Beyond the Creek also brings the news that Kokolo Donburi & Bar, a rapidly-expanding Bay area chain that promises new locations in downtown Livermore, Milpitas and Richmond, will move into downtown Walnut Creek at 1251 S. California Blvd. According to the website for the Japanese small plate and rice bowl company, the Walnut Creek Kokolo will open in July.

A belated wake for Brezo

Brezo fans mourned the loss of its pozole, a popular lunchtime dish at the long-shuttered restaurant. Credit: Brezo/Facebook

Thanks to everyone who sent Nosh a link to a recent new item that said that popular Point Richmond restaurant Brezo had shuttered in recent days. (You can send us tips too, the line is always open at nosh@berkeleyside.org.) 

But something about that news didn’t feel right to me. Was I conflating restaurants on my ongoing mental list of closures? A quick Google confirmed that, at least this time around, I wasn’t losing it: According to the Richmond Pulse, the farm-to-table Latin spot closed its doors at 135 Park Place in November of 2020, just three years after it opened after a major remodel of the space (the former home of The Baltic). “Business has not been sustainable for us,” co-owner Heather Mervine said at the time, citing a drop in business likely spurred by the pandemic.

When she spoke with the Pulse in November, Mervine said Brezo might rise again in the future, and a message the restaurant posted to its website promised “plans for reopening in a nearby location.” But a Facebook post from this spring has dashed even those hopes, as according to the restaurant, Brezo will never return. “We have made the really hard decision not to reopen.”the restaurant wrote in an April goodbye note. “It has been a pleasure serving all of you.”

Eve Batey is the Editor of East Bay Nosh Email: eve@eastbaynosh.org. Twitter: eveb.