Weekly Dish: Spice Kit to San Ramon
Asian street food with a foodie twist; Indian gastropub close in Walnut Creek; more mac and cheese in Oakland? and more!
Spice Kit isn’t your typical Asian fast-food joint. Similar to James Syhabout’s Hawker Fare or Book Koo in Mill Valley (once rumored to be coming to Lafayette), the food is inspired by the street food of Asia, specifically Korea and Vietnam, but executed with the principals that have become the standard among Bay Area cuisine: using fresh ingredients that are often locally and sustainably sourced. The backgrounds of chef/founder Will Pacio and executive chef Fred Tang tell a lot of the story: they’re cooking resumes include stints at such high-end restaurants as per se, French Laundry, and the Ritz Carlton Dining Room.
They got tired of that fancy-pants cuisine and have found success with a classic French–trained approach to Spice Kit’s much more casual fare, opening locations in Palo Alto and downtown San Francisco. And now they’re crossing the Bay with plans to open a new outpost in San Ramon’s Crow Canyon Commons shopping center. Look for spins on the classic Vietnamese banh mi and ssam Korean wrap featuring naturally-raised meat, such as five-spice chicken, beef shortribs, and roasted pork, as well as organic tofu (you can also add house-made pate to that banh mi). No word yet on opening date, but CLICK HERE for more info and to check out their menu.
And just an FYI: Spice Kit is going into the same shopping center that signed a lease to bring in a new location of noodle-centric chain Noodles & Company.
Looks like Kanishka’s, the neo-Indian gastropub replacing Fujian in downtown Walnut Creek is this close to opening. The owner, Walnut Creek resident and first-time restaurateur Paramita Roy, says it'll be rolling out with a soft opening and limited menu over the next couple weeks (check their Facebook for updates), with a grand opening planned after that. (Also check their Facebook for info on an open house tasting event this Thursday.) No hard details yet on what should be a frequently changing small plates menu (Po'Boys, Sliders, and charcuterie are mentioned for the tasting event), but Roy cites quite a diverse collection of influences for her fare, including authentic Bengali recipes, Indian street food, New Orleans–style southern, and Basque, Venetian, and Brazilian flavors. Should be interesting. kanishkasgastropub.com.
Oakland’s super-popular Homeroom will soon be getting even mac and cheesier. Owners Erin Wade and Allison Arevalo are planning an expansion to their ever-packed restaurant on 40th Street in the lower Temescal neighborhood. What’s on tap? They’re taking over a space one block away from Homeroom at the corner of 40th and Webster streets, which will serve as the center of their to-go operations. In addition to serving takeout customers, the space will include a commercial kitchen, allowing the restaurant to keep pace at the busy restaurant and to service all catering business. ("We've been turning down people because we don't have the capacity," Arevalo told me.) And finally, the space will also include a small retail section with T-shirts, cookbooks, mac and cheese accouterment like hot sauces, plus a larger selection of local craft beer and wine to take home. And perhaps the coolest part: They're planning a little photo booth where customers can take prom-style photos that will be included in a large collage. Fun, fun ... homeroom510.com.
Back in Walnut Creek, there’s been a chef change at Sasa as the Japanese Izakaya’s longtime chef du cuisine Sam Castro has left because of health reasons, according to owner Philip Yang. To replace the popular Castro, Yang has tapped his other restaurants' (Blue Gingko) executive chef Cyrus Irudistan to be Sasa’s new executive chef. Yang, in turn, is relinquishing that title to concentrate on supervising his growing stable of eating establishments, which include Sasa, Blue Gingkos in Lafayette and Blackhawk Plaza, and the upcoming Blue Gingko Izakaya in Dublin. Expected to debut in the Fallon Gateway Shopping Center this summer, Yang’s latest eatery (despite its name) will feature similar Japanese small plates–style fare to Sasa instead of the more sushi-focused menu of his other Blue Gingko restaurants. Yang also said to expect that same style of fare to remain at Sasa under Irudistan. sasawc.com.
More Temescal news: Copan, the new Korean eatery from the owners of Oghane, has changed its name. It’s now called Bowl’d BBQ and will be a debuting a more Asian barbecue–centric menu sometime this week.
Downtown Pleasanton's new breakfast/brunch-focused Farmhouse Eatery will soon be open for dinner. Owner Eric Shanker told me that as soon as their liquor license clears, they’ll start offering alcohol for weekend brunch (hello, Bloody Marys …) and open their doors from 4:30 to 10 p.m., serving American style tapas with a full bar. Could happen as soon as tomorrow (Thursday); check their Facebook for updates.
Over in Danville, Gotta Eat Pita is officially open for business and apparently already doing brisk business. They offer make-your-own pitas and bowls featuring fresh baked pita, homemade salads, and naturally raised chicken, “prepared to order” and “made with love.” Go to gottaeattapita.com for more.
The Concord beer scene has plenty to be excited about between the always-popular EJ Phair and the soon-to-debut Hop Grenade beer café and Ale Industries’ upcoming new taproom. Tap into that hoppy energy at the 5th annual Winter Brews Festival this Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at Todos Santos Plaza. Hosted by The Brewing Network (the same folks behind Hop Grenade), this fest features some all-star NorCal breweries including 21st Amendment, Ale, Drakes, Bear Republic, Heretic, Lagunitas, Schubros, and more. CLICK HERE for the full line-up and to purchase tickets ($35 presale and $45 at the gate).
In Berkeley, per Berkeleyside Nosh, Breads of India is back open while Le Petit Cheval is closing down.
Analog, a new restaurant coming to Uptown Oakland, will mix a retro theme devoted to VHS tapes and record players, with its modern twist on classic pub fare, according to East Bay Express.
EBX also has a write-up on a new fisherman-owned fish market, Bonita Fish Market, recently opened by two commercial fishermen in downtown Berkeley.