The Berkeley Marina is a sacred place for locals to walk their dogs, fly kites, launch boats or bring a picnic. It’s not the first destination that comes to mind for trending or au courant restaurants. One marina away in Emeryville, Trader Vic’s and Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood still attract diners. But along the Berkeley waterfront, the restaurants emphasize the bay views before their available vittles.
Since Hs Lordships closed in 2018, the building that once housed the restaurant remains empty, in a state of persistent decay. Outdoor tables at the Sea Breeze deli still huddle together on top of a dusty parking lot. Skates can credibly boast about its extraordinary views without needing to boost any news about the ordinary menu. And, until recently, only the Berkeley Boathouse at the DoubleTree Hotel had been smartly refurbished in an effort to eliminate the questionable interior décor choices that had lingered there since the turn of the century.
With an unwieldy name, the Marina Seafood Dockside Patio opened the first week of January. The newly constructed restaurant sits adjacent to Hana Japan Steak and Seafood, and is run by Dan Yoon, Hana Japan Steak and Seafood’s chef and owner. Bradley Wills, the operations manager, said that unlike Hana, Marina Seafood is not a teppanyaki restaurant.
“Chef Yoon has had a long-lasting relationship with fishermen in the area,” Wills said. “He wanted to create a new concept to showcase fresh local fish.” The menu features oysters on the half shell, fish and chips, chowder, cioppino and a catch of the day.
“It’s American seafood, but we put our own twist on it,” he said. “Because we’re in the Bay Area, with the melting pot of cultures, we focused on creating a menu that works with some of the best flavor profiles from different cultures.” Non-seafood lovers can enjoy fried chicken, a smash burger and salads featuring produce from local farmers.
While chef Yoon is a daily presence at Hana, Wills said they have hired a chef to run Marina Seafood. “Keegan Taylor worked with Mr. Yoon to develop a traditional seafood menu,” he said. “But because Taylor has gone to culinary school and worked at restaurants in the area, we’re modernizing it to meet everyone’s dietary needs and palates.”
Marina Seafood also takes a more traditional approach to the way most kitchens operate with line and sauté cooks, or employees who can work the broiler or salad stations. Wills explained that a teppanyaki restaurant runs with one head chef, Mr. Yoon in Hana’s case, and then several chefs who train under him. All of the chefs then go on to cook on the public-facing grills for the customers.
During the pandemic, Hana’s teppanyaki-based menu didn’t work as a takeaway model. “It’s an experience; you come here for the show of the chef cooking in front of you,” Wills said. But the restaurant group got creative. “We made sure to make take-out food affordable. And when outdoor dining was available, we invested in portable hibachi grills with fewer people at them.”
Wills said that Hana’s regular customers have been locals. “Teppanyaki is a group experience; a lot of families for birthday celebrations, anniversaries and special occasions,” he said. “But if you come in with a party of two—our tables fit up to a maximum of eight or twelve—you’re going to be paired with other people. Then the chef is going to come out and cook for you all at the same time.”
Since the DoubleTree is nearby, hungry hotel guests also drop by, along with people who take tours with the commercial fishermen whose boats are docked at the marina.
Hana has been open for 18 years. During that time, Yoon built a relationship with the fishermen.
“We’ve been supportive when they have extra fish they need to offload; we can actually run a special that can be cooked on the teppanyaki grill,” Wills said. “We have a full bar at Hana, so people will come and grab a drink or a bite to eat before they take off.”
Marina Seafood also has a full bar with wine, spirits, cocktails and local beers. And, of course, another kitchen to accommodate the fishermen’s bounty from the sea.
Marina Seafood Dockside Patio, open daily noon to 8pm, 235 University Ave., Ste. B, Berkeley. 510.882.0223. marinadocksidepatio.com.
Samantha Campos eastbayexpress.com Food & Drink,Food News,Berkeley,Berkeley Marina,Berkeley restaurants,Dan Yoon,Hana Japan Steak and Seafood,Marina Seafood Dockside Patio,seafood
2024-01-17 01:19:45 , East Bay Express | Oakland, Berkeley & Alameda