Japanese restaurant Riceful opens on Durant Avenue

Courtney Le/Senior Staff

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Riceful, a new spot at which to find Japanese cuisine, celebrated its grand opening on Durant Avenue on Aug. 21.

The Japanese restaurant maintains a modern aesthetic and hopes to serve a wide variety of customers, according to manager Tiffany Chen.

“We serve mainly the onigiri dishes but with a more classic, modern twist, of which we call the sushi sandwich. It’s egg and Spam and rice wrapped inside seaweed,” Chen said. “We also have a variety of vegetarian and vegan options, which include no Spam — it’s a rice sandwich. The shape is different, and the size portion is also unique to us.”

Although the restaurant has only been open for about two months, Chen said the restaurant has found success in Berkeley.

She said the restaurant is getting “better and better” and will continue to add items to its menu, such as rice bowls, which Chen hopes will attract different groups of people.

“We are in the process of expanding our menu options, which is causing many more customers to come in,” Chen said. “The business is getting better every day.”

Campus freshman Bella Muñoz said she enjoys the food at Riceful, adding that it puts a “huge spin” on Japanese food.

“I personally really like the ahi fish onigiri because it’s just the perfect balance of sushi and rice,” Muñoz said. “I’d recommend it really to anyone, even if you’re not the biggest fan of raw fish.”

Chen explained that the reason she and her husband chose to open their restaurant in Berkeley was to reach a wider clientele.

She also added that because of its close proximity to UC Berkeley, the restaurant is able to serve a wide range of customers.

“I think we are the first Okinawa-based onigiri sushi joint in California — at least in the Bay Area, we are the first ones,” Chen said. “Berkeley is a city with a lot of different kinds of people, and so that’s why we chose Berkeley.”

Chen emphasized the importance of the quality of their food, as well as the importance of challenging the notions of traditional Japanese food and offering Berkeley residents something new and exciting.

Riceful’s opening, however, adds another Japanese restaurant into the mix of Berkeley’s wide variety of Japanese cuisine options.

“Yes, of course there will be competition, but we serve more traditional types of Japanese foods, such as the classic sushi and broths,” said Misun Chung, the owner of Tako Sushi. “We each have something different to bring to the table, which I think will ultimately allow us to work together rather than against each other.”

Contact Audry Jeong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @audryjng_dc.