Well, it's official, I'm going to start building my own ark if it continues to rain. Then again, cold and rainy weather's greatest foe is the healing warmth of a nice hot meal. As the dark skies continued to spread gloom and doom throughout the bay area, my friends and I found ourselves seeking the shelter of one of Berkeley's 4th Street original eateries, the Zen influenced inspired serenity of O Chame (sorry no accent on the e, but c'est la vie).
Apart from simply marveling at how the diningroom staff of only three people is able to deftly meet the needs of all its patrons, we settled into a booth at the back and after ordering a round of hot genmaicha, the soul was warmed and the stomach inviting.
We started with an appetizer of their Celery Root and Green Onion Pancake which came served with a savory and slightly pungent dipping sauce. The pancake was more akin to an omlette and not something that would come out of an Ihop. It was toothsome and subtley perfumed with fresh green onions and the slight sweetness of celery root.
Amidst the soft indirect light above and the flicker of the odd candle, we then tucked into a steaming hot bowl of soba noodles in a Bonito infused broth. Filled with fresh Mustard greens, pickled slivers of Daikon radish, and a generous portion of sliced pork tenderloin. The broth was flavorful and further enriched as the slightly smokey pork flavors mixed in. The bright greens and Takuan were excellent counterpoints to the richness and the soba noodles provided excellent texture.
Moving onto a perfectly grilled Flat Iron Steak, sliced on the bias and nestled into a bed of Collard Greens, Portabella Mushrooms and Edamame. The bite of the greens again contrasted the richness of the meat and mushrooms. The Edamame were cooked perfectly and again provided the texture and toothsome quality that the dish needed.
We finished the meal with another course of contrasting flavors. A caramel balsamic gelato was not only the perfect texture, but the sweetness and tartness balsamic played very well balanced against the toasted, slightly burnt toffee flavors of the caramel.
Heading back out into the cold dampness of another rainy Monday night, the spirits were lifted, and we were ready to contemplate yet another rainy Tuesday...