Downtown Asian Eateries Offer a Blend of Cultural Cuisines

  • BHS students are key to Toss Noodle Bar's success.

    Clara Elm Nettesheim

  • Tasty Express is a new downtown Chinese spot.

    Clara Elm Nettesheim

  • Popular lunch spot Oori is located on Shattuck.

    Clara Elm Nettesheim

Every day, hungry students leave Berkeley High School (BHS) to crowd the surrounding restaurants. BHS is located right near the epicenter of Downtown Berkeley, allowing students access to the many cusines of the area. Many of these restaurants rely heavily on students for their revenues. Although students may not think about the impact of buying a rice triangle or pad thai, those few purchases can make the difference between whether businesses stay afloat or not. 

Toss Noodle Bar is located on Shattuck Avenue, between Kittredge Street and Bancroft Way, and is a favorite of many students. According to Toss’s general manager Ake Tang, the restaurant’s cuisine is a blend of Asian cultures, based on Thai, Korean, and Japanese dishes. It first opened in 2013, and so far BHS students have been very fundamental to it’s success. “We make sure students get food as fast as possible so that [they] have time to enjoy and go back to class. We really want to make people happy,” Tang said. The eatery’s signature dish is stir-fried noodles, but with the number of choices of ingredients to add, it’s almost guaranteed that anyone will enjoy whatever they decide to order. 

Tillie Margulies, a junior in Academic Choice (AC), said, “Toss is the place to go for noodles.” Although it’s a toss-up deciding what to get, one can’t go wrong ordering the most popular dish: a bowl of Hokkien noodles, Japanese sauce, and tofu. 

Oori is a Japanese and Korean-inspired restaurant located on Shattuck Avenue between Allston Way and Center Street. The main dishes served there are varieties of rice triangles, a seaweed-wrapped triangle of rice, with your choice of topping. Oori’s Berkeley location is owned by Franciso Rodriguez. It’s also relatively new, having only been open for about 10 months. Even though the time since opening has been relatively short, Oori has been doing well. “The students are what makes Oori strong and bring in a lot of business and it’s going well so far,” Rodriguez said. 

According to Rodriguez, Oori’s most popular dish is their chicken teriyaki rice triangle. Isabel Stubbs Swing, a sophomore in Berkeley International High School (BIHS), enjoys going to the restaurant. “It’s a popular lunch place that is very fast and really filling,” she said. Stubbs Swing and her friends’ go-to orders are the teriyaki chicken and short rib rice triangles, as well as the student-discounted bowls.

Tasty Express is a new Chinese restaurant located on Shattuck Avenue, close to Center Street. They sell traditional Chinese food such as broccoli beef, fried rice, hot and sour soup, and fried dumplings. It opened about four months ago and although the business has been a little slow, according to the manager Yujia Lee. “There are a few high school students that have come and it’s been nice having them support us during our opening.” According to Lee, their most popular dish is the Mongolian beef, a steak with onions and mixed veggies.