his casual order-at-the-counter gumbo hub does spicy Cajun—and in many cases vegan—stews that are easy to like. Consider the Tofu Ropa, a play on ropa vieja, featuring tender peppers, sweet tomatoes, and fresh beancurd simmered velvety-soft. It’s Southern and it isn’t, like Easy’s red beans and shrimp that are curried. That is to say, the food here is Southern—by way of South Berkeley. Co-owners Jess McCarter and Grant Gooding put it this way: “Creole. Cajun. Kind of.” Along with Southern classics such as jambalaya, chicken Creole, hot links, and drunken crawfish, you might also find—depending on the day—Southwestern pozole, Jamaican jerked poultry, Cuban ropa vieja, Thai-Creole curry, north-south Manhattan maque choux, and smooth, creamy, banjos-on-the-Volga mushroom stroganoff plus vegan and vegetarian dishes, too, with free tasting samples encouraged. In spirit and provenance, these (usually peppery) dishes are as swirlingly, thrillingly disparate as New Orleans itself. Yet a certain similarity somehow pervades. Look for the sign that says, “Not Ming’s Kitchen Anymore.” That’s the place. Serves lunch and dinner Mon.-Sat. and Sun.