Beyond Delicious: Ube Donuts in Berkeley at Rainbow Donuts

I've passed by Rainbow Donuts (2025 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702) several times on my way to Berkeley, but never had the desire to go in thinking it was just the standard donut shop. It doesn't have the most appealing storefront. It looks worn out, dark and dimly-lit inside, but don't let that fool you as it did me because Rainbow Donuts is anything but ordinary. 

The classic options are there for those who want the typical chocolate glazed and maple bars, but what sets them a part from other donut shops is their rainbow variety- ube, strawberry, red velvet, blueberry, key lime, and banana. Rainbow Donuts is one of two shops in the Bay Area that make ube donuts, but it is the only shop that makes it this way. If you're vegan, don't worry - there are donuts available for you, too. 

Prices are in line with other donut shops in the area: 1/2 dozen at $5.50, 1 dozen at $9.99, anywhere from $1.00 for a cake donut to $1.90 for a fritter.

Here's a look at the three donuts we devoured. 

The bold flavors of the blueberry fritter just can't be beat. It is crisp on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside and covered in thick glaze. 

The key lime glazed cake donuts were tasty and bright, sweet and tart. 

My favorite is the ube donut made from a purple yam that's popular in the Philippines. The purple color you see is all natural. I'm in love with the sugary crumbs and explosive ube flavors. The texture is simply amazing; so moist, soft and cakey. It's worth all the calories.

I'm so glad we stopped by to check this place out. It's easy to assume that all donut shops are the same, but you never know what you'll find at your local donut shop. Rainbow Donuts will surely brighten up your day. 


Visiting Rainbow Donuts

Location

2025 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

Phone

(510) 644-2029

Hours

Mon to Friday: 5am to 8pm
Sunday: 6am to 6am

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Chef Sophina Uong Takes Revival Bar + Kitchen to Another Level - Review (Berkeley)

Chef Sophina Uong has mad talent, y'all. 

Formerly the Executive Chef at Picán, Sophina has temporarily taken over the kitchen at Revival Bar + Kitchen until her next project opens. I've been following her on Instagram (@girlslantee) and have been drooling over her creations. 

Sandy (Foodhoe), Christina (East Bay Dish) and I went to visit Revival Bar + Kitchen for dinner. Big props to Sandy for the suggestion! I told Sophina we were coming to visit, hoping she'd come out to take a break and say hello. It turned out that we were in for one hell of an evening full of wonderful and delicious surprises! 

We had a glorious feast of traditional comfort food with a "twist", as Christina would say.  The food was inventive, showing thoughtfulness, technique and experience in the kitchen. 

In 2013, Patrick and I used to visit Revival often for their lip-smacking handcrafted cocktails and charcuterie, but after having a mediocre dinner we never returned. Now that Sophina's in the house, I'll come back and trust her to feed me whatever she wants to combat my hunger any day. 

Pork Liver Mousse

To kick off our evening, Sophina sends us an amuse-bouche of pork liver mousse on toasts, topped with mustard seeds and edible flowers. It was smooth, rich and lovely. 

Housemade Milk + Butter Roll with Whipped Lardo

Our eyes bulged and jaws dropped the moment these rolls arrived to our table. "This will turn my day around," says Christina. The rolls were accompanied with a spicy smoked paprika whipped lardo topped with black salt that melted graciously into the warm rolls. I would come back for this alone. Best surprise, ever. 

Fried Soft Shell Crab with Deviled Egg Sauce

It's uncommon to see soft shell crab served on the menu, unless it's a Japanese restaurant. This dish wasn't even offered on the menu, but arrived to us like a gift sent from someone who clearly knows the way to our hearts. We, unknowingly, were the guinea pigs for Chef Sophina's new experimental dish. Her version of fried soft shell crab is definitely something that I've never had before. The crabs sit over a deviled egg milk-based sauce with pickled fiddleheads, shaved rhubarb and asparagus. It's likely to be coming soon on the menu and when it does, you will definitely want to order it. 

Spicy Mushroom Pho Flatbread

What the pho?! You know that warm feeling and after taste you get after taking a bite into that raw sliced chili that's been gently cooked in your hot bowl of pho? I'm talking about that heat, along with all the wonderful anise fragrance in pho. That's captured in this flatbread.  You're looking at a yam purée base with anise, housemade ricotta, savoy cabbage slaw, porcini gastrique, fried onions and serrano chilies. The porcinis were wonderfully flavored, meaty and tender. 

It's unlike anything I've ever had before and I would highly encourage any pho lover to order this, take a bite and have your mind blown. 

Grilled Happy Boy Fava Beans 

I loved the texture and flavor of the fava beans coated in pecorino oil. Tiny slices of meyer lemon gives the dish a nice boost in brightness.

Chilled Sugar Snap Peas

A refreshing salad made of sunflower seeds and pureed sunflower seeds for an earthy taste, along with nutty shoots and salty thick feta. 

Pan-Fried Duck Pistachio Scrapple

For those unfamiliar, scrapple is a popular food of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Traditionally, it's a mush of pork scraps made into a loaf, like a terrine, then it's sliced and fried. I am a huge fan of scrapple. The version at Revival steers away from tradition and comes off  almost like duck country pate, served with grain mustard, sweet potato confit, peppercress and sliced radishes.  It's not mushy and fried to a crisp like other versions of scrapple I've had before. It was tasty, but was the one dish that we didn't care for.

Southern Style Fried Chicken

By this point, we were more than half-way full. Of course, we still had to try the fried chicken. Sophina sent us two orders and I felt like I had to pinch myself to wake up from this incredible dream. The chicken is tender and well-seasoned, both the dark and white meat are perfectly cooked. At one point, we wondered if what we believed to be the breast was actually a thigh in disguise. The exterior was light on the batter, lightly crispy. I drizzled the spicy espelette honey over both the chicken and insanely moist cheddar biscuit, took a bite and went into a state of bliss. 

Even the greens and sea island peas were memorable. Sophina uses Portuguese collards, which tastes like a cross between collards and kale, and sea island peas that are sweet and meaty in texture. The dish was really, really satisfying

Revival

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

No words can describe how good this dessert is. A super moist, buttery rhubarb cake that offers both sweet and tart, complimented by a carrot sorbet and buttermilk ice cream with puffed black rice and fennel fronds. Created by Raquel Coronado, Picán's former pastry chef, who also previously worked with Sophina.  Simply amazing!


FINAL THOUGHTS

Revival Bar + Kitchen has really upped their game with Sophina as their temporary Executive Chef and Raquel Coronado taking over desserts. I'm not sure how long Sophina plans to stay at this point, but I'll keep coming back for more as long as she's in the kitchen. I would highly suggest you make a visit, too. 


Visiting Revival Bar + Kitchen

Location

2102 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

Website

http://revivalbarandkitchen.com/

Phone

(510) 549-9950

Hours

  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday - Sunday: 3:00 pm – 12:00 am
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Phenomenal Rustic Japanese Food: Full of Umami from Beginning to End - Iyasare Review (Berkeley)

I've fallen madly in love with Iyasare.  

Have you ever had a dining experience where your head nods up and down, bite after bite, and your mouth longingly goes "Ooh" and "Mmm" throughout an entire dinner? That was my experience at Iyasare during my first visit and not too far from that, my second visit, too. 

On my first visit, I went with my friends Sandy (Foodhoe), Christina (East Bay Dish), and Ben (Focus:Snap:Eat). Our evening started with thin slices of gorgeously marbled ocean trout, plated beautifully with compressed asparagus, english peas, snow peas and sugar snaps underneath an avocado puree, topped with ikura. The ocean trout crudo ($16) set high expectations for the rest of dinner and Iyasare delivered with the brightest of flying colors. Each dish after the next continued to impress us, both visually and through taste. 

A few weeks go by and I'm back. This time I took my sister, her partner and my niece out for dinner, already knowing that they'd love the food. One bite of the ocean umami and I fell in love all over again. The dish screams out vibrant colors. The fresh, tender sashimi scallops sitting over nori-infused ponzu were topped with Santa Barbara sea urchin and salty soy-marinated ikura that bursts in my mouth, leaving a rich and pleasant ocean taste. 

This is not your typical Japanese restaurant. Chef Shotaro Kamio has redefined modern Japanese cuisine using the flavors, textures and cooking techniques from the Tohoku region, a rural area in northeastern Japan where he grew up. After spending six years at Ozumo and seven at Yoshi's in Oakland and San Francisco, Kamio launched Iyasare on Fourth Street in Berkeley. Iyasare is focused on simple, yet inventive Japanese-California dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients. 

Simply put, the food is sublime and full of umami from beginning to end.  You'll want to slow down and savor each tantalizing bite. Here's a look at each dish during my last two visits, a few of which were ordered again the second visit(*).  

Ocean Umami ($16)

sashimi scallop, ikura, sea urchin, pickled wasabi leaf, nori seaweed ponzo

The ocean umami will blow your mind away. This is what my dreams are made of. 

Japanese Curry Roasted Baby Carrots ($10)

braised gobo, crispy gobo, curry carrot puree, fresno-orange coulis

A great way to showcase root vegetables and make them shine, very comforting and satisfying. 

Hachivo Miso Cured Duck Breast ($16)

duck fat roasted baby beets, mixed chicory, beet puree, shaved foie gras

The cured duck breast was done very nicely, slightly chewy as expected like salami. Overall, the dish has a great combination of flavors - salty cured duck breast, sweet and earthy beets, bitter chicories and rich foie gras shavings. Lovely. 

Maguro & Foie Gras ($18)

big eye tuna, shaved foie gras, avocado puree, lemon-tamari oil

The foie gras adds a rich component, acting as the flavor for the muscly big eye tuna. A tasty dish, but probably our least favorite out of all the other dishes we've ordered. 

Grilled Gyutan ($16)

prime beef tongue, grilled asparagus, cucumber kimchi, pickled radish, roasted garlic sendai miso 

A tongue that's tender to bite. A squeeze of lime brightens the dish overall creating a another level of sophistication. The flavors are incredible, like having a little party in your mouth. 

Hamachi Crudo ($15)

blood orange, fresno curl, endive, satsuma kosho, onion ponzu

A simple and pure, fresh hamachi dish. I enjoyed the added brightness from the blood oranges.  

Pan Seared U10 Scallop ($18)*

marble potato, scallion potato puree, bottarga, bacon-miso cream

Fresh, perfectly seared scallops and thick slices of bacon married together in a bacon-miso cream and added umami from the bottarga. Divine!

Sea Urchin Risotto ($22)

cauliflower puree, smoked oyster, crispy maitake mushroom

Fresh urchin on top of a creamy risotto served with a soothing and savory broth. You will want an entire plate of this amazing risotto for yourself. 

Okonomi Pancake ($18)*

savory cabbage, black tiger shrimp, scallop, bonito flakes, mentaiko aioli, chili ponzo

This okonomi pancake is doughy, sweet, tangy and full of seafood. It is Japanese comfort food at its best. 

Iyasare Berkeley Review

Spicy Mentaiko Spaghetti ($18)*

reef squid, jidori egg, bottarga, kaiware, shiso, garlic-ginger butter

A dish that left such memorable and lasting impression that I had to get two orders on my second visit to ensure there was enough to share all around. It's creamy and rich without being too heavy. Each bite was flavorful, slightly salty from the bottarga, with added fragrance and brightness from the shiso. 

Pan Seared Ocean Trout ($18)

salt and koji mold cured, smoky eggplant puree, sauteed eggplant, shoyu pickled onion

A gorgeous pink trout seared to crispy skin perfection. 

Buta-Charshu ($21)

tamari braised pork belly, asari clam, pea tendril, and pork bone broth

Pork belly in a savory, rich and salty broth.


Want to read more? See what my friends thought about Iyasare: 


VISITING IYASARE

Location

1830 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710

Website

http://iyasare-berkeley.com/

Phone

(510) 845-8100

Hours

  • Lunch: Mon-Sun 11:30am-2:00pm

  • Dinner: Mon, Wed-Th, Sun 5:30pm-9:00pm

  • Dinner: Fri-Sat 5:30pm-10:00pm

Iyasare on Urbanspoon

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