Ippuku, Berkeley’s much loved izakaya-style restaurant, is expanding to West Oakland with a soba-focused restaurant. Ippuku chef Chris Geideman and partner Paul Discoe will take over the space formerly occupied by Fusebox, which closed at the end of April, to house their new venture, called Soba Ichi.
As the name indicates, the restaurant will serve primarily soba, made using equipment shipped from Japan and buckwheat from Eastern Washington, according to Inside Scoop, with the possibility of some yakitori and okonomiyaki on the menu as well. Longtime Ippuku employees Koichi Ishii and Shinichi Washino will join the project, with Shinichi running the bar and Ishii focusing on the soba.
The location is on the sprawling 2.5 acre industrial compound of Paul Discoe, the master craftsman and Zen priest whose work includes projects like the Tassajara Zen Center, and restaurants like The Perennial and Ippuku. (The Perennial also houses their aquaponic farm on the property.) Discoe says that he’s redesigning the kitchen layout, and is working on turning the spacious outdoor patio area into a combination plant nursery (selling fruit trees and vegetables) and seating area for the restaurant.
The timeline is set for late summer, but Discoe says it depends on navigating the staffing shortages that are plaguing Bay Area restaurants. And because the reconfiguration will take a few months, Discoe says there might be pop-ups as they ramp up the space.
The builder also has plans for an adjacent commissary, where local makers can sell their wares, including Discoe’s own olive oil, apple cider, and vinegar. “There are a lot of craftsmen in this neighborhood,” Discoe told Eater. “It will have everything from handmade knives to soap to vegetables and ceramicware.” And depending on the license, it could also sell alcohol from local brewers and distillers— that could eventually include sake from a brewery on the property, a project Discoe is currently working on.
Stay tuned for more on Soba Ichi, the sake brewery, and more.