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Around the World in Berkeley

tonyjohnson54 Jan 12, 2012 05:25 AM

I have to arrange an event for 200 people in June of next year, that involves ten groups of twenty people having dinner in Berkeley. The ten groups will all eat at ten separate restaurants, each establishment from a different national cuisine.

So I am looking for recommendation please for:

Indian, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, French , Italian, Japanese, Chinese and two more - I am thinking of avoiding American but haven't gone firm on that.

Huge topic I know, but all suggestions really appreciated!

  1. escargot3 Jan 12, 2012 11:12 AM

    A fun idea! Some additions to the list:

    Ethiopian: Finfine
    Swiss: Fondue Fred
    Korea: Koryo Boonshik (tho I haven't been there)
    Israeli: Holy Land on College AVe
    Vietnamese: I might argue for Le Cheval on Bancroft (unless you want the 5-course beef dinner at Anh Hang)

    17 Replies
    1. re: escargot3
      hyperbowler Jan 12, 2012 12:08 PM

      Koryo Boonshik (AKA Koryo Restaurant) is notably cheap, but I'd just as soon skip Korean rather than send people there. The service and food aren't great representations of the Korean food available further from downtown Berkeley in the East Bay.

      I agree that Ethiopian would round out the list nicely. I can't vouch for Finfine, but there several good ones easily accessible by bus along Telegraph in South Berkeley/North Oakland (same is true of good Korean places...). Cafe Colucci and Addis are my favorites.

      tonyjohnson54, when you come up with a tentative list, definitely check back with the board. I would guess that you'd want to yoke the quality of the places to each other so that no group feels slighted. For example, Ajanta is amongst, if not the top, Indian place in SF/East Bay. Downtown Berkeley's Thai and Mexican places, as Robert Lauriston noted above, aren't among the best in the area, and would better off be skipped.

      1. re: hyperbowler
        Robert Lauriston Jan 12, 2012 12:26 PM

        I'm not talking just about downtown, I don't know of great Thai or Mexican anywhere in Berkeley except maybe Casa Latina, which I don't think could hold 20 people standing up.

        Cafe Colluci is so good that I haven't tried any other Ethiopian places recently to compare, and most of the ones I'm curious about are in Oakland, like Addis.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          rworange Jan 13, 2012 12:26 AM

          Indian - Ajanta (haven't been, but high on my list)
          Mexican - sigh ... Tacubaya ... or Fonda (on the border)
          Thai - Sabuy Sabuy II
          Vietnamese - Vanessa's
          French - La Note ... pretty much the only option in town
          Italian - Riva Cucina
          Japanese - Ryowa (but it is the only Japanese place I've eaten in Berkeley)
          Chinese - China Village (on the border)

          Two others

          German - Gaumenkitzel
          Turkish Kitchen

          Maybe replace Mexican with Platano for Salvadoran. The menu also has Mexican dishes.

          1. re: rworange
            Robert Lauriston Jan 13, 2012 08:59 AM

            There are at least two French restaurants in Berkeley, La Note and Liaison, and two more in Albany, if that's OK.

            Ryowa is no longer good.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              rworange Jan 13, 2012 09:10 AM

              Yeah, that's what I meant about 'pretty much' and not only. i considered Rendez Vous Cafe in Albany, but unlike China Village and Fonda, I thought that was too far away from the border of Berkeley. Too bad about Ryowa

              1. re: rworange
                tonyjohnson54 Jan 13, 2012 01:32 PM

                Thanks all - this is a great list that I'm compiling. I am going to put up my short list next week to be fired at. I should have mentioned that they have to be within 20 minutes walking of the UC campus.

                Any more suggestions welcomed.

                1. re: tonyjohnson54
                  wolfe Jan 13, 2012 01:46 PM

                  Yes you should have.

                  1. re: tonyjohnson54
                    abstractpoet Jan 13, 2012 01:48 PM

                    Your 20-minute walk caveat knocks out probably more than half of the places that have been suggested.

                    In that case, do Chinese at Great China for sure.

                    1. re: tonyjohnson54
                      wolfe Jan 13, 2012 01:58 PM

                      Then add Brazil Cafe and Zatar.

                      1. re: wolfe
                        rworange Jan 13, 2012 03:04 PM

                        Has Brazil Cafe expanded? I'm not sure it fits 20 people ... at least not easily.

                        1. re: rworange
                          wolfe Jan 13, 2012 04:02 PM

                          An old SFChron article says they have 9 tables so if you buy out the place they may fit in 20 even if they have to borrow a couple of chairs from the parking lot.

                      2. re: tonyjohnson54
                        hyperbowler Jan 13, 2012 02:16 PM

                        20 minutes from any edge of campus or from a specific building? Campus is big...

                        Edit: price range?

                        1. re: hyperbowler
                          redrover Jan 13, 2012 05:58 PM

                          So within a 20 minute walk of most of campus:

                          Chinese--Great China
                          French--La Note
                          New Orleans--Angelyne's
                          Vietnamese--Anh Hong

                          One more is needed

                          1. re: redrover
                            wolfe Jan 13, 2012 06:08 PM

                            Greek- Athineon.

                            1. re: redrover
                              hyperbowler Jan 13, 2012 06:28 PM

                              Becs hasn't been Irish since they changed over from Becketts.

                              I would strongly vouch for Turkish kitchen.

                              1. re: redrover
                                Robert Lauriston Jan 14, 2012 12:15 PM

                                Bec's serves pub grub: wings, nachos, pizza, sliders. Triple Rock is much better for that kind of thing.

                                Beckett's served Irish food, and was one of the nicer bars in Berkeley, but Bec's has little in common with its predecessor except the floor plan.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  tonyjohnson54 Jan 15, 2012 09:08 AM

                                  OK - Here we go. For better or worse this is the decision -

                                  China - Great China
                                  Ethiopia - FinFine
                                  El Salvador - Platano
                                  France - Liaison
                                  Italy - Corso
                                  Japan - Ippuku
                                  Switzerland - Fondue Fred
                                  Tibet - Cafe Tibet
                                  Turkey - Turkish Kitchen
                                  Vietnam - Anh Hong

                                  Now I have to get down there and try them all - somebody has to do it!

                                  Thanks for all the suggestions - much appreciated!

              2. Robert Lauriston Jan 12, 2012 09:29 AM

                Does it have to be Berkeley proper or is nearby OK?

                Indian: Ajanta
                Vietnamese: Anh Hong
                French: Liaison or La Note
                Italian: Corso or Riva Cucina
                Japanese: O Chame or Norikonoko (if they can handle 20)
                Chinese: China Village

                Spanish: Cesar
                Indonesian: Jayakarta

                Second on Turkish Kitchen and Cafe Tibet.

                I don't know of any Mexican or Thai at a comparable level in Berkeley.

                There are other places with eclectic menus that could do first-rate banquets of certain cuisines by special arrangement.

                Organizing ten simultaneous 20-person dinners is going to be a logistical challenge. I hope you have ten people you can trust to each deal with one of them. This is also going to be expensive as most places will have minimums and guarantees for parties that size.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Ruth Lafler Jan 12, 2012 09:42 AM

                  Can you really have "dinner" at Cesar? And is the menu different at the Berkeley location than the Piedmont Ave. location, because the menu on the website for the Piedmont location is not Spanish -- it's mostly Mexican with some Spanish/Latin American dishes thrown in.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    Robert Lauriston Jan 12, 2012 09:50 AM

                    If by dinner you mean a sequence of courses, you can easily do that at the Berkeley Cesar if you want to. The paella is great and very filling.

                    The Oakland Cesar is now totally different and not as good. For Cal-Mexican I prefer Fonda, for pan-Latin Bocanova.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                    Robert Lauriston Jan 13, 2012 02:13 PM

                    20-minute walk from UCB, strike Ajanta, Riva Cucina, and O Chame.

                    Mt. Everest, Zatar, Turkish Kitchen, Alborz, Angeline's are all in that range.

                  3. CarrieWas218 Jan 12, 2012 09:00 AM

                    Add Turkish Kitchen on Shattuck to your list. Great food and they could easily accommodate ten people with a grand feast.

                    1. wolfe Jan 12, 2012 07:36 AM

                      How about Aborz and one of the Tibetan/Nepalese like Everest.?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: wolfe
                        lmnopm Jan 12, 2012 08:13 AM

                        You should consider Sabuy Sabuy II for Thai and discuss a restaurant buyout for the evening (it holds about 24 people). I did this once for a party and it was fantastic - selecting a set menu in advance.

                        1. re: wolfe
                          hyperbowler Jan 12, 2012 08:58 AM

                          I would go with Cafe Tibet they have a wider selection of items you won't find on Indian menus, and have a great selection of momos. The tsam-thuk (soup) is one of my favorite dishes in Berkeley. It's not a huge place, but with advanced notice I bet they'd be able to serve 20.

                          Are there cost restrictions? If not ippuku for Japanese. And are you looking for downtown and telegraph areas only, or would solano be ok?

                          Great china can accommodate large groups and is excellent. Use the search feature for dish recommendations.

                          Jaykarta for Indonesia is certainly different, but I've never felt that I've ordered the right thing so that might be challenging for a group.

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