Viridian Set to Open Soon on Broadway
Sustainable craft cocktails meet delectable dim-sum-inspired desserts.
Images: Kristan Lawson
Set to open on in early February, Oakland's soon-to-be-newest craft-cocktail bar will merge sustainability, hyper-seasonality, sweetness, savoriness, and dim-sum-affiliated nostalgia.
Named for a distinctive green-blue hue, Viridian is a partnership between bar director William Tsui (Lazy Bear, Rich Table), operations manager Raymond Gee (Hakkasan SF), creative director Jeremy Chiu (Shinmai, Mina Group), and general manager Alison Kwan (Lazy Bear, True Laurel, Moongate Lounge). Tsui, Gee, and Chiu were all Oakland-born and -raised.
"We originally wanted to open in Chinatown," said Tsui, who is depicted above and below. "We'd always wanted to start something there." But several years into their search, they were invited to consider acquiring the Broadway space that formerly housed Plum Bar:
"We said, 'Fuck yeah.'"
Designed by Soon and Soon Studio (featuring chef Brandon Jew of Michelin-starred Mister Jiu's) and partly inspired by Wong Kar-Wai's classic movie Chungking Express, the elegantly elongated interior features abstract neon sculptures whose creator, Laura Stevenson, imagined panoramas viewed from high up in Hong Kong tower-buildings.
Other design elements include colorful vintage-look hanging lamps, Spanish-made boutique poufs, black-and-yellow tiling from San Francisco's Heath Ceramics, and quirky works by local illustrator Cheeky Chong.
The team also includes general manager Alison Kwan (1885 Britomart), opening consulting chef Alice Kim (Lazy Bear, Coi, The Restaurant at Meadowood), and executive chef Amanda Hoang (Bird Dog). Hoang worked at San Francisco's 20th Century Café and the Absinthe Pastry Commissary Kitchen after attending Tante Marie's Cooking School on a full scholarship.
Viridian's eclectic wine list represents seven different countries and was curated by master sommelier Andrey Ivanov, formerly of Lazy Bear. Most of the wines on this list are sourced from sustainability-minded small producers, many of whom practice dry farming — without industrial or added irrigation — to reduce their water-consumption.
Using savory elements to balance the sweetness of the dessert-dominated menu, Tsui and Kwan created such cocktails as the beautiful Golden Triangle (containing Bombay Sapphire gin, yellow beet, California poppy, and bitter wine):
Others include the Tomato Beef (tallow-washed tequila, basil eau-de-vie, heirloom tomato, wild peppercorn, salt); ESL (cognac, cream, Page and Satsuma Mandarins, Creme de Cacao, citrus bitters, nutmeg); and Honey Walnut Ron (Guatemalan rum, blood orange, walnut orgeat, vanilla).
Hoang and Kim collaborated on an opening menu whose artfully plated share-able sweets, small bites, and other treats include Rum Po Tat (a spin on the classic Portuguese egg tart with flaky pastry and soft custard); Chili Garlic Butter Milk Bun (soft rolls slathered in Japanese Chili Crisp and garlic, served with charred scallion and ginger butter); gluten-free Black Sesame Chocolate Cake (black sesame pudding sandwiched between layers of blackout chocolate cake, covered with caramel ganache); Blood Orange and Vanilla-Bean Semifreddo (Creamsicles' elegant updated offspring); and Burnt Vanilla French Crullers with Tequila Lilikoi dipping sauce.