Food & Drink

The Bowled and the Beautiful

Oakland’s Noodle Belly mixes ingredients and influences In his primary day job, Eugene Lee owns a roofing supply company. It’s not the first profession that comes to mind when I try the food at Noodle Belly. The concept is straightforward: Choose a vegetable and a protein to accompany a bowl of noodles and the housemade sauce. One can, for example, combine fried chicken and roasted carrots or barbecue pork belly and sauteed rainbow chard. The chewy noodles are plentiful, and as thick as chopsticks. The secret sauce tastes sweeter than a typical barbecue glaze, complementing—rather than overpowering—one’s chosen combination of vegetable and meat. Jorge Concha is the chef executing a shared vision with Lee and his business partner Kevyn Miyata. Lee describes the food at Noodle Belly as “Bay ...

Every Day Is Sunday

Sunday Family Group’s East Bay ‘Bakeshop’ concept The special at Sunday Bakeshop on National Donut Day is a banana milk donut. Chef Elaine Lau created it together with Deuki Hong, who she says loves banana milk. Lau tried the Korean drink, packaged in a juice box, because he had talked about it. She decided to combine her love of donuts with one of his favorite drinks. “It’s literally just bananas ground into milk,” Lau says. “Only it tastes more artificial. We roast real bananas in our version.” Hong is also a chef, but both he and Lau describe his present occupation as someone who “finds people who are passionate about food and then provides them with their own platform.” Sunday Bakeshop is just one culinary wing or “concept” from the Sunday Family group. But the hospitality group initia...

Bette’s Oceanview Diner: Berkeley favorite keeps it coming

Manfred Kroening is the tall, silver-haired Austrian who regularly greets customers at the front door of Bette’s Oceanview Diner. He and his late wife Bette (along with Sue Conley who went on to co-found Cowgirl Creamery) opened the diner on Berkeley’s Fourth Street in 1982. Fourth Street in the early 1980s was an unlikely neighborhood to start a homey, welcoming place for brunch. The nearby warehouse tenants were glassblowers and metalworkers in what was then an industrial neighborhood.  Speaking by telephone Kroening recalled that, “Back then, to work on Fourth Street, it was a bad zone at that time. Roaming dogs and upside-down shopping carts.” He felt that they were really taking a chance starting a business there. But they all thought, “Let’s try to work together and make a livin...

Grind On

Photo by Nathan Dumlao. Pattern recognition 101: Jack London Square, early morning. The steely grays of the sky and water meet the steely grays of the Bay Bridge in a fog dense enough to spatter my shoulders like rain—a fantastical composition of liquid; solid and vapor all in one color. By 10am the marine layer will be gone, replaced with high, brilliant skies. Beautiful in its own right, that high-def articulation of wave and girder, gesso-white gull feathers and grimy signage. But for now, nothing so crude as clarity. Glorious ambiguity, easy on the eyes, not revealing too much at once, leaving plenty to the imagination. That’s what we’re about around here at 6:30 in the morning, and the perfect beverage for that has to be the cappuccino, the beverage named for its supposed resemblance ...

Garagiste Bay

Photo by Road Trip with Raj I’m on a small stage in a swanky art gallery fashioned from an orphaned Wells Fargo branch—there’s a weird and wonderful installation in the vault, snacks are being served from the teller’s counter, paintings and sculptures spring up like a flush of tasty wild mushrooms from the decaying remains of Finance and all of this spells a metaphor we definitely need more of. A live jazz band pauses its set of bossa and old-school swing.  I’m pairing a flight of local wines with a flight of local poets, hoping to illustrate five characteristics common to both crafts: words like tension and structure and typicity. While each poet reads, the audience tastes a sequence of small-batch wines—a sauvignon blanc whose fresh grassiness strikes a surprising accord with certai...

  • 1
  • 2