Smorgasbord



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Hot Tea / Hot Pot


    Brother and sister Ahmed and Reem Rahim have a knack for perfect packaging. One has only to look at their artistically boxed Numi organic teas to know this. So it was no surprise to discover the charm of their newly opened Oakland teahouse. Their intention was to create an urban oasis, and the interior is a tranquil haven all the way from the water feature and foliage to the organic shapes of a burl wood table and chairs that, like the marble that tops the tea bar, were brought in from China. Numi employees were invited to lay the tiles that decorate the round mosaic tables “so they could have input in the inaugural space,” says Reem Rahim. Careful attention to detail is apparent all the way from artwork to menu. Teas ($3.50 to $5 a pot) range through white, green, black and flowering (such as a Midnight Peony, where tiny hand-sewn “buds” open in the hot water). Light snacks include two cheese plate options ($7.50) with selections from France, Italy and the United States. Reem’s favorite dip is the Muhammara, which combines roasted red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate molasses ($6).
    The Numi Tea Garden, 2230 Livingston St., 9 a.m.–5 p.m Mon.–Fri., (510) 533-8720, www.numitea.com.

***

    My Japanese-American friend had eaten shabu shabu in Japan and at friends’ homes, but not in any Bay Area restaurant. “It’s pretty traditional,” she said. So she was keen to try Zabu Zabu, the stylish new Berkeley eatery that, evenings only, offers the bubbling broth-filled hot-pot cook-it-yourself option that, like fondue and Korean barbecue, is a great meal to share with friends.
    Choose a vegetable medley, or alternatively, vegetables with thinly sliced beef rib-eye, pork or chicken (all $15); or try the mixed seafood ($23) that includes mussels, shrimp, line-fish, fishcakes and more.
    Zabu Zabu, 1919 Addison St.; lunch 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Tue.–Fri.; dinner 5 p.m.–10:30 p.m. Tue.–Thu., 5 p.m.–midnight Fri.-Sat., 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Sun. (510) 848-9228.
—By Wanda Hennig
—Photography by Lori Eanes

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