Understory, Oakland’s new employee owned restaurant

Understory is a new collectively owned kitchen and incubator launched by Oakland Bloom. Photo: sub-story

Oakland’s new worker-run restaurant and commissioner’s kitchen

Earlier this month, Oakland Bloom, a volunteer nonprofit collective that provides career support for refugee and immigrant chefs, opened Understory, its worker-run restaurant, bar, and commissioners kitchen. Understory provides hands-on experience and extra income to chefs looking to start their own food business while they continue their education. At the same time, local guests have the opportunity to try what they are cooking.

After a few weeks of trial service, Understory is ready to officially open its doors this Thursday, March 25th, from 4pm to 8pm. Regular service days are Thursday through Saturday, with a special weekly pop-up event on Sunday. With food from a chef participating in Oakland Bloom’s Open Test Kitchen incubation program.

This week’s debut menu features Filipino cuisine as well as a kefta burger and fries, but Understory’s offering will change and future menus will focus on Moroccan and vegan Mexican cuisine. This Sunday’s pop-up will highlight the Burmese cuisine created by Oakland Bloom chef Pa Wah. Sunday pop-up dishes such as coconut curry noodle soup (with either chicken or tofu), tea leaf salad, sticky banana leaf rice, Burmese sausage and a selection of desserts can be pre-ordered online in advance.

In addition to food, Understory refreshes with a wide variety of beverages, including cocktails (including alcoholic Boba drinks and a ginger-lemon-rum sprinkler), agua frescas, cold-brewed coffee, beer, and wine. Understory, 528 Eighth St. (between Washington and Clay Streets), Oakland

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The Berkeley Public Library is now loaning kitchen utensils

Kitchen tools like this Instant Pot are now available for loan from the Berkeley Public Tool Lending Library.  Photo: Berkeley Public LibraryKitchen utensils like this Instant Pot are now available for loan from the Berkeley Public Library. Screenshot from the library’s last virtual cooking class with Jeannie Celestial and Art Swenson, co-authors of The Filipino Instant Pot Cookbook.

Have you ever had to pass on a recipe because you didn’t have the right culinary tools on hand? If you’re a member of the Berkeley Public Library, you now have access to a full range of kitchen gadgets through the Tool Lending Library. As Berkeleyside first reported in December 2019, BPL put together its kitchen tool collection – the first of its kind in California – and asked the community which devices would be most useful to them. Many of the items available, such as sous vide cookers, air fryers, instant pots, Belgian waffle irons, dehydrators, and canning equipment, are expensive to purchase, especially if they are only used a few times by a home cook. Berkeley Librarian Dan Beringhele said, “This was an excellent opportunity to meet a need in our ward. The Tool Lending Library gives our customers the opportunity to try out a new gadget without spending any money or creating waste. The kitchen tool collection allows home cooks to discover their creativity and experiment with new recipes and techniques. “

Users can search and keep the culinary collection (and any other available tools) in the online catalog of the tool lending library. (First-time borrowers must call the tool library at 510-981-6101 to learn more about registration.) Equipment can be checked out for seven days. Tool rental library at Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch, 1901 Russell Street (Martin Luther King, Jr. Way), Berkeley

An update on Oakland’s Peony Seafood Restaurant

Peonies Coconut Bunny Dim Sum.  Photo: Anna MindessThe Peony Seafood Restaurant has reopened its dining room in the banquet hall with a 25% capacity for dim sum like these coconut bunnies. Photo: Anna Mindess

Oakland Chinatown’s popular dim sum banquet hall, Peony Seafood Restaurant, reopened its 10,000-square-foot (25% capacity) restaurant on March 18. Manager Ming Zhu said he was grateful for the outpouring of community support and take-out contracts (following a story in Berkeleyside and Oaklandside) that have enabled him to date. Peony’s expert chefs are back, making a range of freshly made dumplings, buns, and buns, and even coconut bunnies for dessert. Zhu looks forward to opening at 50% capacity in the coming weeks if allowed. Peony Seafood Restaurant, 388 Ninth St. (on Franklin Street), Suite 288, Oakland (review by Anna Mindess)

Anniversary specials from the third cultural bakery

The Third Culture Bakery is offering two special anniversary packages to celebrate their fourth anniversary.  Photo: Third cultural bakeryThe Third Culture Bakery in West Berkeley is offering two special anniversary packages to celebrate their fourth anniversary. Photo: Third cultural bakery

Next month, the Third Culture Bakery in West Berkeley will celebrate its fourth anniversary. As Third Culture grows in popularity for its Asian-influenced mochi baked goods and beverages, founders Wenter Shyu and Sam Butarbutar say the pandemic nearly closed the store. They credit their strong network of neighbors and customers for staying open.

As a thank you to their fans, Third Culture is offering a limited number of special anniversary packages that contain a collection of sweet foods and drinks. The anniversary VIP package (USD 50) includes four daifuku mochi cakes (two dark chocolate truffles and two match truffles), a crème brûlée mochi waffle, two coconut mainia donuts, two tiramisu mochi donuts, two mochi muffins and a lychee soda palm drink. The $ 44 Birthday Cake Package includes a 3-layer mini 4-layer dark chocolate birthday cake from Natty Cakes with Third Culture toasted matcha buttercream and dark chocolate drizzle, and a drink made from a lychee soda palm. Both packages can be pre-ordered online and picked up at the bakery on April 3rd and 4th. (Those who order at least 48 hours in advance can skip the line and pick them up directly from a concierge on the doorstep.) Third Culture Bakery, 2701 Eighth St. (between Carleton and Pardee), Berkeley

PennDels Backhaus finds a home in El Cerrito

PennDel's bakehouse in El Cerrito will open gently on Saturday March 27th.  Photo: Rebecca SaltzmanPennDel’s bakehouse in El Cerrito will open gently on Saturday March 27th. Photo: Rebecca Saltzman

Thanks to reader Rebecca Saltzman, Nosh learned that El Cerrito will be welcoming a new bakery this weekend with the soft opening of PennDels Bakehouse. Founded by friends and longtime food industry veterinarians Pamela Braxton and Gayle Tule-Chen, PennDel’s provides the locals with organic, preservative-free cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and other sweet and savory baked goods, including many gluten-free and vegan options.

Both women are originally from the East Coast, and the name of their bakery reflects their origins: Tule-Chen is from Pennsylvania; Braxton from Delaware. They met in El Cerrito 12 years ago when their children were both attending Harding Elementary School and the women bonded over their common interests, including food. Braxton ran a made-to-order bakery with her late husband for 15 years, and Tule-Chen has over 35 years of experience in the kitchens of Grace Baking, Mollie Stones, and Albany’s now-closed Solano Grill & Bar.

PennDel’s will test the water this Saturday March 27th and Sunday March 28th from 9am to 2pm with a gentle opening. Expect treats like apple crumble muffins and coffee cake. Cookies with garlic, cheddar, and green onion; Apricot bars; variety of biscuits; gluten free dark chocolate brownies; and cake from the slice. Braxton and Tule-Chen said they look forward to introducing themselves to the neighborhood, but take things slowly as they tweak their operation. PennDel’s Bakehouse. (near San Pablo Avenue), El Cerrito

Change of menu at Bopshop Korean Kitchen

Reader Ray Concepcion let us know that Berkeley’s Bopshop Korean Kitchen no longer offers the regular menu with bibimbap, poke bowls and kimbap, but is instead switching over to the Vons Chicken menu entirely. Vons is a Korean fried chicken chain that will open franchise locations nationwide in the Bay Area in 2014. (Another local Vons location is at Bowl’d in Temescal.) Nosh confirmed the change with a Bopshop representative, who said the restaurant now only serves the Vons menu but will not change its name. Bopshop Korean Kitchen / Vons Chicken, Solano Ave. 1823 (Colusa Avenue), Berkeley

The teachers eat for free at Curry Up Now on Tuesdays

A hand is holding a Chicken Tikka Burrito over a silver platter.On Teacher Tuesdays, educators with a school ID can get a free bowl or burrito like this Chicken Tikka Masala Burrito at any Curry Up Now restaurant. Photo: Curry Up Now

On Tuesdays, teachers and school staff in the Bay Area can get a free bowl or burrito at any Curry Up Now location. The restaurant started Teacher Tuesday to show appreciation to educators during the pandemic. “I believe that teachers have the greatest impact on current and future generations and have been the unsung heroes during this pandemic,” Curry Up founder and CEO Akash Kapoor said in a press release shared with Nosh. “Regardless of whether these dedicated educators are teaching virtually or returning to class, we can offer them a delicious hot meal every week during the spring semester. It’s a way to show a small token of our appreciation. ”Educators must show their school ID to redeem the giveaway. The promotion takes place every Tuesday until May 25th. All locations can be found on the Curry Up website.

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