All restaurants open in Oakland and Berkeley in January 2022

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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-style galette des rois from Les Tartes de Feybesse. 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 screeching of brakes and life on pause: that seems to sum up the new year so far. The supposed new start in January was more of a moment 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 that the Kings 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 takeout, a nice piece of market produce, a warming cocktail, a deeply comforting treat, or something new from one of the newest restaurants that just said hello. In a best-case win-win scenario, indulging in our region’s unrivaled food and drink could help us and a local business owner pull through.

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Berkeley

Outside Squabisch on his busy first day. 1 credit

SQUABISCH Long loved at the Kensington Farmer’s 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 2019 Berkeleyside article, the name “Squabisch” combines Elser’s favorite word “squab” with the German word “Swabische,” meaning “from Swabia,” his mother’s region of origin in southern Sweden. Germany. Squabisch, 1585 Solano Ave. (between Tacoma and Peralta Avenues), Berkeley

EXPRESS TASTY Famous Bao’s two former Berkeley properties, both inactive since 2020, are now booked. In December, KoStop opened in Durant Street; 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 express, 2116 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. Gangnam Jajang’s marketing is some 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 critical reviews. enthusiastic. Is it kkan-pung-gi? Is it art? We say both. We learned from WhatNowSF that the group also owns Gangnam Tofu in El Cerrito. Gangnam Jajang, 4390 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 at this new location and on the newly renovated outdoor patio at its second location on Piedmont Avenue. Judoku Sushi Rock Ridge, 5335 College Ave. (between Clifton Street and Manila Avenue), Oakland

JOODOOBOO Steve Joo’s stronghold of tofu and banchan is the new grocery store everyone’s talking about, and for good reason. Joo’s dooboo (the Korean word for tofu) is delicate and creamy — “pillow,” as described by the Chronicle, which did an in-depth report on the chef’s preparation of fresh tofu. 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 subscription option is selling out fast. If you managed to score one, you did a pretty good job. Joodooboo, 4201 Market St. (between 42nd and 43rd), Oakland

KORNER KITCHEN & BAR This Fruitvale property has operated as a commercial kitchen and incubator for companies such as Noodle Belly for some time. In December, the group softly opened an outdoor cocktail bar (which features vendor food) and in January officially celebrated its grand opening. The word is that the space fosters a collaborative community energy, and as we know, that sort of thing can lead to some really great food and drink. (See this profile piece of KQED’s Luke Tsai). Korner kitchen and bar, 1014 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 was once the Pretty Lady restaurant, but, as Horn himself would say, “Greatness is not a destination. . It’s a journey that never ends. Here’s the greatness in question (courtesy of Tablehopper): crispy chicken pieces and sandwiches, including the Hot Bird that delivers Nashville-style heat; chicken and waffles; ruby red candy apples. This is a trip we would like to take. kowbird, 1733 Peralta St. (at 18th St.), Oakland

INDIAN MARIGOLD EATS Nosh loves to hear business district news from Temescal Telegraph about this ever-changing area, including the long-awaited 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 customers are thrilled so far. Indian marigold eats, 4868 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 cuisine, 3810 Broadway (at 38th Street), Oakland

TO DIVIDE Part of a San Francisco-based mini-channel from the team behind Mixt, this fast-paced, laid-back new spot is sure to draw 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 divide, 2301 Broadway (at 23rd Street), Oakland

SOFT FINGERS RESTAURANT 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 has just reopened in a beautiful new space in big pomp 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 has taken over the La Cocina kiosk inside the Public Market, former home of Nyum Bai and Mama Lamees, and it seems a fantastic fit. Catering available. A girl named Pinky, Public 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 bowls 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 candle, 5646 Bay St., 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 Taqueria, 2522 Santa Clara Ave. (between Everett Street and Broadway), Alameda

LITA Walnut Creek’s newest has been called 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. Lita, 1602 Bonanza St. (at Locust St.), Walnut Creek

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