My friend Matt Sperry was a chowhound of the old school. I think he got on chowhound.com once or twice and poked around, maybe even posted a message, but most of Matt's chowhounding was spent in the field, or -- as in some of my favorite memories of him -- talking on the porch, comparing vegetarian restaurants or satay houses or new Korean places cropping up on Telegraph.
My partner Holly and I traveled to Los Angeles in late May for a conference. Before going, I posted a query on the LA board and got a great heap of thoughtful recommendations. We spent a euphoric week in Los Angeles on those recommendations, dining on Oaxacan sausage, Korean noodles, Thai morning glory shoots, and a lot of other goodies, and failing to spend much more than ten bucks a head, anywhere.
We returned on an evening in early June. We were out back watering our then-fledgling tomatoes when Matt came outside with his 2-year-old daughter to say hi and catch up. (We've lived upstairs from Matt and his family since we moved to the Bay Area.) I told him all about the great food we ate in LA. He had never tried Oaxacan cuisine and hoped to travel to LA and do some chowhounding himself. I told him about the Korean noodles we had, which were called gook soo. He told me that there was a place in Berkeley, Bear House, that served good homemade gook soo, and I made a mental note to try it.
Three days later we returned from midday errands to discover that Matt was dead; killed by a truck while riding his bike to work in Emeryville. Summer kind of went upside down for a few months.
Last week Holly and I finally made it up to Berkeley to try the gook soo at Bear House. Oddly, Bear House has closed, and a new noodle shop has taken its place. The new shop is called Slurp and specializes in homemade wheat noodles. They're owned by Oakland's Happy Family restaurant, where hand-pulled noodles are also a specialty.
Anyway, Holly and I are suckers for a good noodle place, and Slurp is one of them. I've tried two noodle soups: Pork + Pickled Vegetables, and Braised Beef with Shiitake mushrooms. I loved the pork and pickled veggies; deliriously salty and with lovely contrasting textures of crunchy pickles and chewy noodles. The braised beef and mushrooms was milder, simpler, more like comfort food. I didn't take to the meat, but the broth, noodles, and mushrooms were delicious. Holly's had the fiery Thai noodles, also wonderful, and the Beef chow fun, which neither of us found very interesting. I didn't have all the recent chow fun discussions in mind, or I would have been more observant as to type of sauce, etc. We also got a bowl of wok-tossed edamame in chili and ginger, which was tantalizing and wonderful, hot spicy slippery little soybeans. They have beer, soda, agua fresca (?), and are open a lot (see below). I don't know how it compares to Bear House, but I'm a happy noodle nonetheless.
So here's to Matt Sperry. He was known to many as a brilliant musician, and a loving father, friend, and husband. To me he will be remembered as a genuine friend, comrade, and chowhound extraordinaire; the kind of neighbor who goes to an annual pig roast and brings home a bag of pulled pork for the folks upstairs, or takes the leftover duk bokki to go so he can clump up the back stairs and offer it to us upon his return home -- "from the new korean place on telegraph". And here's to the tireless curiosity that keeps us all chowing, and exploring, and trading our experiences and discoveries.
Thanks for the recommendation, Matt. The noodles were great.
Slurp noodle house
2426 Telegraph Ave
Berkeley CA 94704
open every day 11am-9pm
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