New eating places in Berkeley and Oakland in July 2021

Jo’s Modern Thai Lobster Pad Thai, which opened in Oakland in July. Photo credit: Angelina Hong

Alongside the usual bold harvest of brand new restaurants, the long-awaited restaurant and bar reopenings continued this month – in some cases after nearly a year and a half of pandemic lull. As nervous crowds gathered, new questions arose for the industry: Who should wear a mask and when? Do customers need to provide proof of vaccination? When will the supply chain recover? Will there be enough staff?

In the face of ongoing bottlenecks, risks and the emerging Delta variant alongside all the usual challenges for the food and beverage business, Nosh encourages patience, support and courtesy. And as always, please be generous with opening and closing tips via [email protected]


A dish from the new Dumpling Kitchen location in Berkeley. Photo credit: Dumpling Kitchen / Yelp

DUMPLING KITCHEN This dim sum and dumpling spot in Berkeley appears to be a third location of a popular San Francisco restaurant that also has an outpost in San Mateo. This new option near campus features dumplings, dim sum, soups, and noodle dishes, including frozen dumplings to take away. Dumpling Kitchen, 2517 Durant Ave. Ste. A (near Telegraph Avenue), Berkeley

MAINIHI SUSHI Mainichi Sushi takes over the former Sushi 29 area on Solano Avenue and offers a robust menu with sushi, sashimi, bento boxes and special rolls. There is also udon, ramen, lots of vegetarian rolls and a small Japanese-style children’s menu with teriyaki and gyoza. The striking interior has large windows facing the street. Mainichi Sushi, 1647 Solano Ave. (between Tacoma and Ensenada), Berkeley

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The interior of the Boba Guys Rockridge shop. Photo credit: Boba Guys

BOBA GUYS Bicoastal tea chain Boba Guys quietly opened its newest location in the old Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Parlor on College Avenue this month. Look for milk teas, matcha and hojicha drinks, and specialty drinks like Korean banana milk, horchata, and ube lattes. Good to know: Boba Guy’s small batch Boba is made right here in Hayward. (Also, it must be said that not all of the company’s reporting has been positive over the past several months.) Boba Guys, 5925 College Ave. (near Chabot Road), Oakland

WHITE DONATION Nosh first heard about the Korean grill restaurant Don Blanc in the early days of 2020 when his sign went up in Temescal’s Koryo Plaza. It opened in mid-July, according to an Instagram post from the restaurant, and diners are already praising it for its specialty pork (mugifuji, a breed raised in the Canadian wilderness) and Korean-style beef gut dishes. Don Blanc, 4390 Telegraph Ave. (on 42nd Street), Oakland

ENSSARO Not a new opening, but a resurrected favorite – the 15-year-old Ethiopian restaurant Enssaro closed in April 2020 and is back in business this month. Despite the Covid-relevant time, the reason for the closure was damage caused by a kitchen fire at Kinja Sushi next door. Enssaro’s reopening this month is a great example of the kind of resilience that inspires us here at Nosh. Enssaro, 357-A Grand Ave. (near Perkins Street), Oakland

JO’S MODERN THAI Jo’s Modern Thai is an airy, cool, new, Thai-Californian concept restaurant in the Laurel District owned by chef Intu-on Kornnawong (Kin Khao, Intu-On) and new restaurateur Kao Saelee, whose family owns Berkeley’s Racha Cafe. Seasonal dishes include bold but approachable Thai flavors that pair well with tropical cocktails from a drinks menu put together by Tayler Sampson of the Starline Social Club. Please contact Nosh representative Shirley Huey for more information. Jo’s Modern Thai, 3725 MacArthur Blvd. (between 38th and Loma Vista Avenues), Oakland

MOTIVAT COFFEE TOASTER In the former Slojoy Coffee Roasters spot, Motivat is now open, a family-run small-series coffee roastery with an atmosphere similar to Slojoy. Motivat (pronounced “motivate”) has been a coffee caterer since 2014; this is her first stationary. Motivat Coffee Roasters, 1528 Webster (between 15th and 17th Streets), Oakland

OAKLAND FOOD HALL Chowdah, meet the guv’nah: In this month’s Oakland Food Hall news, two well-known local fish and chip suppliers have joined forces in the ghost kitchen, where one, The Governor, with very English roots, has been operating since 2020. The other, Cod Damn, is an east coast style fish and chip pop-up that was last seen at Hidden Cafe’s Hidden Kitchen and Berkeley’s Way Station Brew. Together they are now working on cod baked in beer and hand-cut chips (fries). The menu also includes English steak and ale pies, Rhode Island-style chowder, that deadly-yummy-looking corned beef sandwich, and, in the blink of an eye (wrong word?) Genie, English poutine. Chip, chip, hooray. Order either a takeaway or delivery menu. The Governor / Cod Damn, 2353 E 12th St., Oakland

EYE Bussdown chefs Solomon Johnson and Mike Woods started a supper club in Oakland this summer, which now runs once a month, with a future permanent inpatient facility in mind. OKO is pan-African fine dining that honors and celebrates the roots of African cuisine. Tickets are available here, with changing monthly dates. The next OKO experience is August 29th. (Past events took place in the L Twelve Loft Space).

OLD SALT MERCHANTS It’s not a restaurant, but gourmet salt, sugar, spice, tea and cookbook supplier Old Salt Merchants has a new flagship in Temescal Alley starting this month. Old Salt Merchants, 470 49th St. Suite C (Temescal Alley), Oakland

PLA DAEK THAI ESAN FOOD Piedmont Avenue looks forward to this new addition to the former Orchids Thai Space, which offers pungent and distinctive Issan and Lao-influenced flavors from Thailand’s northeastern corner. Chef is Wawa Maneewan, fresh from opening her first restaurant, Wawa Thai; Maneewan’s mom and dad are both chefs and she grew up in the industry in Thailand. “Pla daek” refers to the minced fish that is used to make the fermented sauce that plays a prominent role in many dishes; Expect specialties that focus on real whole, steamed fish as well as slow-cooked and crispy pork, salads, clear broth soups and curries. Not your usual Thai fare, this food is special in the words of a yelper. Pla Daek Thai Esan Food, 4133 Piedmont Ave. (between 41st Street and Ridgeway Avenue), Oakland

SNAIL One of the hottest openings this month has one of the least suspect names: The Snail Bar, with modern, seasonal small plates and natural wines, opened in the former Stay Gold Deli in Temescal. Chef-owner is Andres Giraldo Florez (season), who has worked in some of the most exclusive restaurants in the world, and his bar combines these upscale gourmet expectations with the accessible atmosphere of Temescal. Natural wines are also sold in bottles. (Note: Please keep going to more bars and restaurants without a vaccination certificate.) Snail Bar, 4935 Shattuck Ave. (at 51st Street), Oakland

TIK DAK The new pop-up Tik Dak has been operating from Blind Tiger for the past few weeks and has received rave reviews. The outfit serves up Korean fried chicken, onion rings, and other drink-friendly dishes. Tik Dak at Blind Tiger, 2600 Telegraph Ave. (on 27th Street), Oakland


Sweet treats like Cupcakin’s Cookies and Cream Cupcakes are now available in Walnut Creek. Photo credit: Cupcakin ‘/ Instagram

CUPCAKIN ‘WALNUT CREEK Cook and baker Lila Owens continues to conquer the East Bay after another with her newest Cupcakin location in Walnut Creek. With that, her business has now grown to four, including two in Berkeley. Cupcakin ‘Walnut Creek, 1388 N. Main St. (near Cypress Street), Walnut Creek

CURRY PIZZA HOUSE This stylish new Indian pizzeria in San Ramon is part of a growing local mini-chain that is getting more and more buzz. Curry Pizza House, 12191 Alcosta Blvd. (near Montevideo Drive), San Ramon

MANGOSAY The new, small, traveling food truck, Mangosay, serves various locations in East Bay, offering mango smoothies and flavored mango noodle dishes. The schedule is on their website. Mangosay, different locations.

TAHINA FRESH MEDITERRANEAN Alamedans seem very fond of this new Mediterranean kiosk, gently open in the Alameda Marketplace, offering mezze, falafel and kebab plates, pitas, wraps, salads and bowls. Tahina Fresh Mediterranean, 1650 Park St. (on Buena Vista Avenue), Alameda

Nosh interim editor Eve Batey contributed to this report.

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