by Luke Tsai
On Wednesday, October 30, a small electrical fire broke out in the kitchen at Norikonoko (2556 Telegraph Ave.), shutting down the tiny, charming Berkeley restaurant, which specializes in homestyle Japanese cuisine. After several weeks passed with no news of the restaurant's future plans, What the Fork finally touched base with owner Noriko Taniguchi, who said that although the fire department quickly contained the blaze, the smoke damage was extensive enough to keep the restaurant closed for repairs for the next six to eight months.
But even that sober news must come as somewhat of a relief to longtime patrons who might have feared that an extensive rebuilding project would be the restaurant’s death knell. After all, no one would blame Taniguchi and her husband Takumi, who have run Norikonoko for twenty years as a second career, if they took the opportunity to retire. Taniguchi said she has been touched to see how many customers have reached out to her to ask when the restaurant will reopen.
“I have that restaurant because I like to do it, not because I have to do it,” Taniguchi said. “I could retire, but the human connection is so important to me.”
If all goes according to plan, then, Norikonoko should reopen by the summer of 2014.