When I visit a new city, like any tourist, I do a bit of research beforehand. Perhaps I poll friends on Facebook, read some listicles and even go so far as to buy a guidebook. But unlike a typical tourist, I’m not looking for sights, shopping, music venues, scenic hikes or whatever it is you look for when you travel. I’m looking for grocery stores.
And in Berkeley, California, the place to be is Berkeley Bowl. Two giant aisles filled with bulk bins, a produce section the size of a small farm and a cheese and olive bar that makes Whole Foods look like a corner bodega. Most of it is organic and most of it is not terribly expensive.
It’s winter so the produce section is teaming with piles of bright yellow and orange citrus. There are pomelos, kumquats, cava cava oranges, grapefruits, mandarin oranges, meyer lemons, tangelos, key limes and even Buddha’s Hands (see the spiny lemon things in above photo).
But perhaps the most important discovery of my recent trip to Berkeley Bowl was the golden enoki mushrooms in the fungi section. I’m a big fan of the more common white enoki mushrooms but these golden beauties were new to me.
I decided to treat them like regular enoki mushrooms but broke off chunks of them into little bundles after removing the dirt clump.
Garlic Sesame Braised Enoki Mushrooms
Serves 2 as a starter
1 bunch enoki mushrooms (golden or white)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Carefully remove the dirt clump from the enoki bunch and then use your fingers to pull apart small clumps of mushroom strands.
- Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the garlic and sesame oil. Sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the enoki bundles and cook for 2 minutes without disturbing. You should see char marks. Add the rice vinegar and soy sauce, stir a few times and continue to cook for about 5 minutes total. Serve with sushi rice!
Please enjoy this rap song about Berkeley Bowl: