All restaurants open in Oakland and Berkeley in January 2022



A chicken sandwich from Kowbird, which opened in January. Courtesy of Kowbird

In January, on the occasion of the Epiphany, we treated ourselves to a French galette des rois from Feybesse tartlets. My husband, a teacher, was lucky enough to find the fève, or porcelain jewel, inside his slice, which is meant to be auspicious. He put the paper crown on and we all toasted his good fortune. Then the next day he threw his back.

Glimmers of hope followed by the squeal of brakes and life pause: That seems to sum up the new year so far. The supposed new beginning of January was rather a period of retreat to avoid or recover from COVID-19 and its collateral damage. So many people have been affected by the omicron variant that contact tracing has become redundant, and the push has applied stress to all sorts of breaking points — within people, businesses, systems.

Meanwhile, despite what followed, it’s no exaggeration to say this king cake was a highlight of our month. We wish everyone their perfect bite or sip of something truly decadent or special while we wait for the real spring. Maybe a favorite take awaynice piece of market produceWarming cocktaildeeply comforting to treat or something new in one of the newest restaurants that just came to say hello. In a best-case win-win situation, indulging in our region’s unrivaled food and drink could help us and a local business owner out of this.

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Berkeley

Outside Squabisch on his busy first day. 1 credit

SQUABISCH Long loved at Kensington Farmers’ Market, Uli Elser’s German-style pretzels now have their own brick-and-mortar on Solano. Maybe you saw the lines. Elser’s unique, freshly baked treats are based on a family recipe, then come with playful toppings ranging from sweet (peanut butter, marshmallow) to savory (Asiago, prosciutto). According to a Feature Berkeleyside 2019the name “Squabisch” combines Elser’s favorite word “squab” with the German word “Swabische”, meaning “from Swabia”, his mother’s region of origin in southern Germany. Squabisch1585 Solano Ave. (between Tacoma and Peralta Avenues), Berkeley

EXPRESS TASTY Bao’s two former Berkeley properties, both inactive since 2020, are now spoken. In December, KoStop open at the Durant Street location; last month, the dining room on Shattuck Avenue became Tasty Express, a fast and casual Chinese buffet option for a quick and economical lunch. The restaurant is notably without pork products; vegan options are also available. Look for the menu on Yelp. tasty express2116 Shattuck Ave. (between Addison and Center streets), Berkeley

Oakland

Joodooboo, which opened in January in Oakland, makes its pickles and kimchi in a special fermentation room. 1 credit

GANGNAM JAJANG The restaurant inside Koryo Village Square which was Koryo Jajang for many years (see tomorrow’s closures), has reopened under new management with new energy and menu as Korean-Chinese Bistro Gangnam Jajang. At Gangnam Jajang marketing is one of the most upbeat we’ve seen this season, and their ja-jiang-myeon (pork noodles and black bean sauce) and spicy garlic fried chicken receive equally rave reviews. Is it kkan-pung-gi? Is it art? We say both. We learned from WhatNowSF that the group also has Gangnam Tofu in El Cerrito. Gangnam Jajang4390 Telegraph Ave. (between 43rd and 44th streets), Oakland

JUDOKU SUSHI ROCKRIDGE Judoku Sushi has moved its Rockridge operation to the former Rikyu Sushi space (see tomorrow’s closings) at 5335 College Ave. North Oakland’s popular sushi restaurant offers a fair amount of alfresco dining, both in this new location and on the newly renovated outdoor patio at its second location on Piedmont Avenue. Judoku Sushi Rockridge5335 College Ave. (between Clifton Street and Manila Avenue), Oakland

JOODOOBOO Steve Joo’s bastion of tofu and banchan is the new caterer everyone talks, and for good reason. Joo’s dooboo (the Korean word for tofu) is delicate and creamy — “pillow,” as described by the Chronicle, which made a in-depth functionality on the chef’s fresh tofu preparation. Its banchan — a rotating line of prepared vegetable dishes, many of which are fermented — is seasonal, California-style, and full of flavor. A monthly banchan and tofu possibility of subscription sells out fast. If you managed to score one, you does a very good job. Joodooboo4201 Market St. (between 42nd and 43rd), Oakland

KORNER KITCHEN & BAR This Fruitvale property has operated for some time as a commercial kitchen and incubator for companies such as noodle belly. In December, the group gently opened an outdoor cocktail party bar (which features vendor food), and in January officially celebrated their grand opening. Word is space promotes a collaborative community energy, and, as we know, that sort of thing can lead to some really good food and drink. (Look at this KQED’s Luke Tsai profile piece). Korner kitchen and bar1014 Fruitvale Ave. (near San Leandro St.), Oakland

KOWBIRD Matt Horn, the unstoppable pit master and nationally acclaimed chef behind Horn Barbecue, has opened a fried chicken sandwich restaurant in West Oakland, and locals are collectively losing their minds to try one. Lines are long and can stretch for blocks outside the space that used to be the Pretty Lady restaurant, but, as Horn himself would say, “Greatness is not a destination. It’s a journey that never ends.“Here is the greatness in question (with permission Table hopper): Crispy chicken pieces and sandwiches, including the Hot Bird that offers Nashville-style heat; chicken and waffles; ruby red candy apples. This is a trip we would like to take. kowbird1733 Peralta St. (at 18th St.), Oakland

INDIAN MARIGOLD EATS Nosh loves to hear the news from Temescal Telegraph Business District about this ever-changing neighborhood, including the so anticipated opening of this new Indian restaurant. Marigold offers korma, vindaloo, biryani and many other classic Indian dishes for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans, with good portions at affordable prices. A quick check on Yelp reveals that customers are delighted so far. Indian marigold eats4868 Telegraph Ave. (between 48th and 49th streets), Oakland

RUMI KITCHEN This new Persian kitchen and bakery inside the Valero gas station near Kaiser Oakland opened quietly in December, then went on hiatus. It reopened on January 31 and offers savory wraps, loaded combo plates, and desserts, including a rice pudding that we’ll definitely be trying soon. Delivery available. Rumi cuisine3810 Broadway (at 38th Street), Oakland

TO DIVIDE This new fast food place, part of a San Francisco-based mini-channel from the team behind Mixt, is sure to attract a lot of people. Menu items include big American breakfasts, salads, artisan sandwiches, a range of burgers and fried chicken sandwiches for breakfast and lunch on weekdays, and more to come once They will start serving dinner (which they will do on February 12) as well as full service on weekends. Split’s spacious and sunny digs are in the former dosa by Dosa at 23rd and Broadway; the Oakland location is also the first Split to serve cocktails in addition to beer and wine. To divide2301 Broadway (at 23rd Street), Oakland

SOFT FINGERS RESTAURANT The Jamaican location Sweet Fingers (named after licking your fingers after enjoying Jamaican-style chicken) was a popular favorite in San Leandro for 12 years until a fire in 2019. It just reopened in a beautiful new space to much fanfare in East Oakland’s Seminary Point mall. On the program: jerk chicken from Chef Clive, fried plantains, Jamaican-style fish and seafood dishes…mmmmm. Sweet Fingers, 5859 Foothill Blvd. (on Seminary Avenue), Oakland

Beyond

A Girl Named Pinky’s Cupcakes, now open in Emeryville. Credit: A girl named Pinky/Facebook

A GIRL NAMED PINKY Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies and pastries are now part of the Emeryville Public Market scene, thanks to the addition of this long-loved bakery, part of the La Cocina family of food entrepreneurs. But that’s not all: savory soups, salads and sandwiches, including a popular grilled cheese and Monte Cristo, are also on the menu. Berkeley locals and students know chef Tina Stevens and her family from the former A Girl Named Pinky booth inside the ASUC Student Union at UC Berkeley. The company took over the La Cocina kiosk inside the public market, the former headquarters of Nyum Bai and Mom Lame, and it seems a fantastic fit. Catering available. A girl named PinkyPublic Market Emeryville, 5959 Shellmound Street, Emeryville

SMOOTHIE CANDLE Emeryville’s Bay Street seems to be experiencing a bit of a refresh, with places like Maya Cameron-Gordon’s new vegan juice and smoothie bar Bougie Smoothie in the lead. Try the What It Do, Honeydew: mix of honeydew melon, orange, spinach, banana, vanilla vegan yogurt and mint. vegan balls are also on the menu. Fun Fact: Cameron-Gordon helped open Vegan Mob with husband and business partner Toriano Gordon; talk about a couple of herbal power. Smoothie candle5646 Bay Street, Emeryville

HOME REVOLUTION Alameda has a festive new taqueria at Casa Revolucion, and reviews for its menu of tacos, burritos, soups, tostadas, and other fresh produce have been great so far. The restaurant has taken over Elaine’s ephemeral Chinese restaurant. Casa Revolution Taqueria2522 Santa Clara Ave. (between Everett Street and Broadway), Alameda

LITA Walnut Creek’s latest was called the East Bay’s hottest new restaurant, and it’s not just about Latin-Caribbean cuisine. The Miami-inspired restaurant and bar are sleek, sultry, and packed, with reservations already booked through March. Lita1602 Bonanza St. (at Locust St.), Walnut Creek

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