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Jan 12, 2012 05:25 AM

Around the World in Berkeley

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!

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

    2 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      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

        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.

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

        1. 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

            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

              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

              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. 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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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

                          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

                              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: wolfe

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

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    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

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

                                  Edit: price range?

                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                    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

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

                                        I would strongly vouch for Turkish kitchen.

                                        1. re: redrover

                                          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

                                            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!