Sasaki is my favorite edomae sushi in the Bay Area, and I truly appreciate their efforts during the pandemic to offer delicious meals in a safe, thoughtful outdoor setting. As a certified sushi addict, I have been able to enjoy a couple of very special, safe meals in a year when that has been in short supply.
The sushi rice at Sasaki is as good a match for my taste as any I’ve had the pleasure to try in the U.S., with a wonderful punch that in my opinion particularly complements neta like akami, kanpachi, and uni because those toppings have a slow-release flavor—I enjoy a brief punch of the perfectly sour rice before it is joined by the flavor of the neta. It’s really the kind of sushi that as soon as I’m finished with a piece, I feel almost angry that it’s over! That fleeting feeling, the sensation of instant nostalgia, is one of the reasons for that sushi addiction that leads me back to places like Sasaki again and again!
I’ve always felt welcome here. It’s a down-to-earth, simple spot, in the kind of way that shows how much experience and expertise is part of every detail, from the thoughtful drinks menu to the perfect service. Whenever I need a place to eat sushi in the Bay Area (and, so help me, it happens a lot!) you’ll find me here, enjoying every moment!
Sasaki 2400 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Try: whatever else you drink, I recommend a Premium Malts on draft to start!
Standard Fare is the very ideal of a lunch spot. Right down the block Third Culture in West Berkeley—making for an irresistible one-two punch—this place is bursting with freshness and taste. I seriously don’t know how they manage to make everything on the daily-changing lunch menu so packed with flavor.
On paper it’s simple enough, with soups, sandwiches, salads, and sweets that at first made me think I knew what I was getting in for. But wow, things here are really so much more than how they seem on paper. How many sandwiches have you had for lunch in your life and how many really stand out? I am a huge sandwich fan and I have really strong opinions about sandwiches, so I hope you believe me when I say that Standard Fare’s sandwiches are in the very top tier I’ve ever had. There are other sandwich places I love, to be sure, with distinct styles and therefore distinct places in my heart. But what distinguishes things here is the whack of pure flavor. The common thread among the ever-changing offerings is the bright, tangy, acidic, herb-y punch (seemingly delivered in a different way by different ingredients each time) that elevates all of them to another level. Every day there is one vegetarian and one meat or fish sandwich, and I have never been let down by any of them. A special place in my memory is reserved for examples built around line-caught lingcod and around garlicky kale, but I could go on.
It’s certainly not all about sandwiches though, and I’ve been more than happy with the daily lunch plate specials and the salads as well. This is a super casual spot, easy to eat at regularly, with lots of seating outside to enjoy some nice East Bay weather. There are few places I know of that work both as an everyday spot if you are lucky enough to live or work nearby and also as a really satisfying reason to make a special trip from slightly further in the area. Standard Fare is definitely one of them!
Standard Fare 2701 Eighth Street, Berkeley, CA, 94710
I won’t say how many times I’ve visited Third Culture Bakery‘s Berkeley showroom. As addictions go, it’s not the worst one to have. It has the most delightful sweets, the happiest vibe, and some fun and surprising drinks to boot.
The first time I had a Third Culture mochi muffin was at Asha Tea in San Francisco. I needed something sweet to go with my tea, and because it was late in the day there was only one thing left in the case. Obviously this was fate. Afterwards I went back to ask what it was I’d just eaten that was so delicious and new, and that was when I learned about the Third Culture phenomenon.
The HQ has several flavors of mochi muffin, several flavors of mochi donuts, specials like mochi waffles, drinks, and swag. At first I was all about the mochi muffin—chewy and toasty and rich and addictive—but I have been fully converted to deliciousness of the donuts too. The icing on the donuts tastes bright and bold, and there are great seasonal specials. Really though the way to go is to fill a box with anything that catches your eye and sample it all.
I’m also all the way addicted to the ceremonial matcha, iced with sparkling water. The first time I tried the combination I wasn’t convinced, but something compelled me to try it again, and I crave it all the time now. It is a super refreshing pick-me-up and totally worth a try if you like matcha.
Everyone at the showroom is super friendly and the whole place radiates the kind of good vibes that the best bakeries and sweets makers have.
Third Culture Bakery 2701 Eighth St, Berkeley, CA 94710
Try: a box with a few flavors of donut and a mochi muffin or two; ceremonial matcha with sparkling water