Mid-Week Menu: Umami Burger Oakland and The Star on Grand Take Off, Sobo Introduces Gluten-Free Ramen, and Off the Grid Debuts in El Cerrito



Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) The new Uptown Oakland location of Umami Burger (2100 Franklin St.), the hugely popular SoCal burger chain with modernist leanings, softly opened on Monday. The menu is similar to what customers will find at the chain’s other locations, with the exception of one site-specific signature burger: the Queso Fundido Burger, which is topped with oozy housemade chile con queso and chorizo fundido sauce. For now, the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., though the closing time might get tweaked during this soft opening period.

Available only at Umami Burgers new Oakland outpost.
  • Available only at Umami Burger's new Oakland outpost.
2) Also open in Oakland is The Star on Grand (3425 Grand Ave.), the new Little Star Pizza offshoot, which specializes, of course, in Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Take a look at the menu, which, while still pizza-centric, adds some East Coast Italian-American-inspired sandwiches and an expanded salad selection to the mix.

3) It’s been a busy summer for everyone’s favorite gourmet food truck extravaganza, Off the Grid. Fresh off launching a new lunchtime event in Emeryville last week, Off the Grid will debut its new El Cerrito street food market on Wednesday, July 10, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The ten-truck market, Off the Grid’s first in Contra Costa County, will be located on Fairmount Ave., between San Pablo Ave. and Carson Blvd. This will be the northernmost Off the Grid event on this side of the bay, and should be a nice option for folks who’ve been missing the Gourmet outpost, which was shut down this past winter (at least in part because of disgruntled brick-and-mortar neighbors).

4) A new ice cream shop is coming to Oakland’s Temescal Alley: Curbside Creamery (482 49th St.), which currently operates out of a mobile vending trike and has a particular focus on cashew-based vegan ice creams, though regular dairy flavors are available, too. Bay Area Bites has an interview with the proprietor of the shop/trike, recent UC Berkeley grad Tori Wentworth, and there’s a Kickstarter campaign you can donate to if you feel inclined to chip in. The shop’s ETA is sometime this fall.

5) Elsewhere on the frozen confection front, Berkeley City Council has granted Rasputin Music (2401 Telegraph Ave.) permission to sell ice cream, Berkeleyside Nosh reports. The decision comes in spite of concerns raised by across-the-street competitor C.R.E.A.M. (2399 Telegraph Ave.) about the similarity of the new ice cream vendor’s name (“Rasputin’s Dream”) and issues related to excessive foot and vehicular traffic — the original proposal was for a takeout window, which wasn’t approved.

6) Nosh also notes that Alchemy Collective Cafe will be moving to a new, larger location in South Berkeley, at the corner of Ellis St. and Alcatraz Ave. A Kickstarter campaign to fund the new cafe is in the works.

7) A quick update on The Grease Box’s (942 Stanford Ave.) new brick-and-mortar gluten-free restaurant: The official grand opening — with a full breakfast and lunch menu — will be on Monday, July 15, and the first BBQ dinner is slated for Friday, July 19.

A new option at Sebo Ramen (via Facebook)
  • A new option at Sebo Ramen (via Facebook)
8) Also of interest to the gluten-intolerant: Oakland’s Sobo Ramen (988 Franklin St.) recently added a gluten-free noodle option, which is available with a variety of different soup bases, including several that are vegan. Sobo claims to be the first Bay Area restaurant to serve gluten-free ramen.

9) Oakland City Council just passed a resolution instituting “Meatless Mondays” on a city-wide basis. The resolution encourages residents to eat a “more varied plant-based diet,” and urges restaurants, grocery stores, and schools to offer more meat-free options. Participation is, of course, voluntary. Read the full resolution here.

10) In other “meatless” news, the L.A. Weekly’s Besha Rodell opines on why vegans should eat oysters with a clear conscience: “They have no central nervous system, no face, no brain. They are basically a lump of protein — that they are classified as animal rather than vegetable is a matter of science, but I see no difference in the morality of eating one than of eating a carrot.” Thoughts?

11) Finally, ICYMI, a couple of long-missed favorites made a triumphant return last week: China Village and, at least for one weekend, Scream Sorbet.

Got tips or suggestions? Email me at Luke (dot) Tsai (at) EastBayExpress (dot) com. Otherwise, keep in touch by following me on Twitter @theluketsai, or simply by posting a comment. I'll read ‘em all.