Wurster Hall in UC Berkeley is now the temporary home of restaurateur Charles Phan’s Slanted Door pop-up, serving food from his award-winning restaurant.
The popup will be open for a limited time until July 1. Located in Wurster Hall as a dinner service item at Phan’s Rice and Bones for five years, the pop-up features a four-course pre-ordered menu—a show like never before—see dishes from the celebrity chef, according to Phan.
The crown jewel of Phan’s restaurant empire is the Slanted Door Restaurant in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, on which the pop-up is based. The restaurant closed more than two years ago, but is expected to reopen after renovations, according to Fan.
“Slanted Door is our flagship restaurant, serving Vietnamese food with full service,” Van said. “Rice and Bones is a simpler version, a different version, with Vietnamese food being served for quick service at lunch. Now we’re doing the pop up which is something different than these two things.”
The pop-up has a 21st-century vibe, with plenty of open space, large tables, and a semi-open kitchen. Highlighting the cement backdrop of Worcester Hall, the pop-up is highly visible when looking at the Ong & Ong Plaza.
There is also a wide selection of wines, with each specially chosen to pair alongside the dishes served during each course.
“I thought the place was beautiful,” said Stephen Walsh, a longtime Berkeley resident and guest of Slanted Door. “It felt natural to me, like a high-end restaurant. I love the combination of wood and bare concrete; it was very sophisticated and modern.”
At the same time, the pop-up themes produce a more “casual” vibe than their San Francisco counterpart, according to some pop-up guests. The balance of patrons small and large can be seen, and guests added that the faster popup format was perfect after a long day of work.
James Schafer, who has been eating at Phan restaurants since they first opened in the Mission District more than 30 years ago, said he was very impressed with the food and ambiance. He added that the pop-up could help create new long-term customers for Slanted Door.
“At least in the SF area, people have missed that Slanted Door has been closed for more than two years, which is a huge loss,” Schafer said. “But I understand why. This is a very expensive place to be.”
Fan said the pop-up was also an opportunity to train new wait staff for dinner service. Guests responded with praise for the waiters’ knowledge of the food and friendly service.
Due to the huge success of the pop-up, with reservations filling within 24 hours of opening, Fan decided to extend the project until July, featuring more culinary creations.
“For the month of June, we have been experimenting with experimental dishes that are likely to be on our future Slanted Door menu,” said Anh Duong, a spokesperson for Slanted Door. “In the first week of July we’ll have one roster and then in the following weeks of July we’ll have a different roster.”
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