Hotpot restaurant Peak Point opens on Telegraph Avenue

Tim Hyon/Staff

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Peak Point, a new hotpot restaurant, opened on Telegraph Avenue last month — the latest Asian restaurant to occupy the space.

According to manager Xueyao Gao, the owner of the new establishment saw an opportunity to bring a convenient, unique cuisine to the Telegraph Avenue district when the Chinese restaurant that had previously operated in the space failed to draw in enough customers. Peak Point opened its doors Jan. 1 and has seen a growing customer base ever since.

The restaurant features a menu with spicy, tomato and seafood hotpots, a traditional Asian cuisine with origins in multiple countries each with its own variation of the dish. Peak Point also offers an extensive selection of desserts and teas such as snow ice and milk tea.

“It’s going to be easier than the other Chinese restaurant — hotpots are easier and come out faster,” Gao said. “A hotpot only takes five minutes. … It’s a combo, it’s easier for most people to go to work.”

Peak Point replaces multiple Chinese restaurants that had previously occupied the space in the past several years — most recently Pepper King, a traditional Chinese restaurant that opened over the summer but closed its doors by the end of the year.

Prior to that, two separate Chinese restaurants operated in the location under the name Happy Valley between 2011 and 2015. The original owners sold the restaurant in 2013 and eventually moved to a new location in Lafayette, California, according to the Lafayette location owner’s sister, Nancy Kwan. The owners of the next Happy Valley in Berkeley did not change the restaurant’s name when they opened their own restaurant at the same location.

Neighboring businesses have taken note of Peak Point’s early success. Christopher Nuncan, manager of apparel store Upper Playground on Telegraph Avenue, said restaurants at the location in the past seven to eight years would come and go, emphasizing that Peak Point was the first to experience such a high level of success.

Carol Lipnick — owner of Berkeley Hat Company, a neighboring business that sells hats and wigs and has operated at its Telegraph Avenue location for 36 years — said she believes the arrival of Peak Point will bring more customer traffic to the district.

“I really liked it — it was fun, and they had good choices,” Lipnick said. “They had a free tea with the meal. It was comfortable, and there were a lot of people waiting in line.”

Tasty Pot, another hotpot restaurant, is set to open in Berkeley this year on Kittredge Street. Gao, however, said she does not anticipate that the coexistence of two hotpot-style restaurants in Berkeley will be competitive.

She added that the most popular time for customers to come in is dinner but that some customers begin to trickle in at lunch time. Among Peak Point’s lunch-time customers, many agreed that they were excited to see the arrival of a hotpot restaurant in the Telegraph Avenue district.

“(Hotpot cuisine has) always been one of my favorites,” said Christopher Reyna, a UC Berkeley alumnus who was visiting the campus for the opening of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. “I’m glad to see there’s this kind of new experience on the Southside of campus.”

Contact Cassandra Vogel and Lucas Lochner-Bravo at [email protected].