An ensemble of Korean, Japanese and Thai influences will fill restaurant tables in the form of various homemade desserts at U :Dessert Story on Shattuck Avenue this January.
With two current locations in San Francisco, the Asian fusion dessert restaurant U :Dessert Story is expanding to Berkeley by popular demand, following its pop-up restaurant six months ago, according to owner Tammy Boonlieng.
“We make pretty desserts in the center and then we have a lot of stuff on the side,” Boonlieng said. “When we serve to the customers, people can customize and play around with our desserts by themselves and share their own memory — that’s why I called it U :Dessert.”
The new restaurant stems from campus alumnus Hoyul Steven Choi’s restaurant empire in San Francisco. Beginning with the restaurant Kitchen Story, then-general manager Boonlieng proposed opening a dessert-only restaurant next door.
Berkeley is the first location that U :Dessert Story will expand outside of San Francisco, because of the city’s allure for campus students, according to Boonlieng.
Restaurant management plans for murals to decorate the restaurant walls, and the space to be filled with plants and contemporary furniture, with a main color scheme of green, white and navy blue, according to Boonlieng.
Unique to the Berkeley location will be the new savory crepes and “fancy” avocado toast for breakfast, Boonlieng said. She added that she anticipates the restaurant will be open from 10 a.m. to around 10 p.m. and until midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
To accommodate people with less of a preference for sweet foods, Boonlieng said the desserts are served with several side components that can be added to increase the level of sweetness.
“Some people might put the mango puree on top, bottom,” Boonlieng said. “Some people don’t want to put the custard so they can control their own sweet tooth and create their own memory.”
Another specialty of the Berkeley restaurant will be “crazy cocktails,” Boonlieng said. She added that the U :Dessert Story restaurants in San Francisco have beer and wine licenses, but in Berkeley they are acquiring a liquor license to introduce cocktails and alcohol desserts.
These “frivolous” desserts are very popular on Instagram, and it is common for people to take pictures of their dishes, according to Boonlieng. Last month, U :Dessert Story’s volcano bingsoo, which is characterized by “smoke and flavour,” was named one of the world’s 50 most “Instagrammable” desserts, according to blog Big 7 Travel.
Boonlieng acknowledges that expanding to the city of Berkeley comes with potential competition from nearby matcha restaurants, but she said she believes U :Dessert Story is unique because of its fusion of cuisine from three countries.
“We can help the Berkeley community get more business from our restaurant hopefully,” Boonlieng said. “Also, at the same time, we would love to share Asian cultures in that area.”