Chef Tiyo Shibabaw at her Teni East Kitchen.
What’s an Ethiopia-born chef doing cooking Burmese food?
Living out a delectable dream, that’s what.
Tiyo Shibabaw, born and raised in Ethiopia where her parents run a hotel and restaurant, always knew she wanted to be in the hospitality industry.
But it wasn’t until she moved to the Bay Area that she found her calling in Southeast Asian cuisines, most notably after going to work at Burma Superstar. Although she started there as a general manager, it wasn’t long before she began apprenticing in the kitchen. She was soon tapped to open the Burma Superstar in Alameda, followed by one in Oakland.
After 10 years, she left the fold to step out on her own, opening her Teni East Kitchen in 2016 that’s named for her mother.
As she explained when I was invited in last week as a guest of her restaurant, she fell in love with the deep, complex flavors of Burmese cuisine that are multi-layered thanks to its judicious use of spices much like in Ethiopian cooking.
Chef Donato Scotti at his newest restaurant, Donato & Co.
Chefs Donato Scotti and Gianluca Guglielmi have been fast friends for 18 years.
So much so that when the Vicenza, Italy-born Guglielmi, the former executive chef and vice president at A.G. Ferarri Foods, returned to Italy to open his own restaurant in 2010, Scotti persuaded him into returning to the Bay Area recently.
Scotti’s new Berkeley restaurant, Donato & Co., which opened in October that Guglielmi now oversees. It is expected to be the first of several Bay Area concepts to come helmed by the duo.
If Donato & Co. is any indication of what’s to come, the future should be bright for Guglielmi and Scotti, who grew up in a small town near Bergamo, Italy, and now also owns Donato Enoteca in Redwood City and Cru wine bar in Redwood City.
What’s an Italian restaurant without a Vespa, right?
The 20-foot-long bar.
A few weeks ago, I was invited in as a guest of the spacious restaurant, with soaring ceilings, exposed brick columns, a 20-foot-long bar, and a vintage Vespa on display. It has the feel of a beloved neighborhood joint, one you feel right at home in from the get-go.
The bar at Hopscotch.
Hopscotch in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood has all the accoutrements of a diner.
There is the worn checkerboard floor, the red bar stools, and the requisite burger and sundae.
Only here, the burger comes with griddled beef tongue and sesame aioli, and the sundae comes with a scoop of green tea ice cream.
Not to mention the the aged NY strip loin is finished with ginko nut herb oil and the daily benedict at brunch is napped with miso hollandaise.
That’s because Hopscotch is a decidedly upscale version of a diner — with a Japanese slant.
It reflects Chef-Owner Kyle Itani’s heritages, which are Italian and Japanese.
The food is fun and eclectic, as evidenced by the dinner my husband and I treated ourselves to recently.
The Black Tea Birdie cocktail.
Cocktails are imaginative. Try the Black Tea Birdie ($9), made with lemon, honey, ginger and vodka that’s been steeped with black tea. The tannin comes through and is tempered by the tickle of the ginger and sweetness of the honey. It’s a drink with the hue of iced tea that goes down just as easily.