After its soft opening Saturday, Boileroom — a restaurant offering both Taiwanese hot pot and rolled ice cream — will formally open Jan. 25.
The restaurant has been under construction for nearly two and a half years and replaces the historic Caffe Mediterraneum. Boileroom owner Robert Hom said he hopes to offer something new to the shifting aesthetic of Telegraph Avenue.
“There’s a lot of foot traffic here, and a lot of the businesses here are modernizing,” Hom said. “This whole area is changing. This place needs something a little more exciting.”
The restaurant offers several traditional Taiwanese hot pots, such as stinky tofu, curry pork and beef hot pot. Its menu also features newer creations such as pumpkin milk with cheese, Japanese miso hot pot and a mushroom veggie tofu pot.
Instead of offering a traditional communal pot, customers will receive their own individual hot pots on top of personal burners.
Sarah Petprasert, a shift leader at Boileroom, said the diversity of dishes on the menu is particularly unique.
“There’s a lot of Asian cuisine throughout the Bay Area, but what’s unique about this place is that they offer a variety of hot pot, not only for people who eat meat but also vegetarians,” Petprasert said. “It caters to all people.”
In addition to hot pot, Boileroom offers rolled ice cream in a variety of flavors, including taro, black sesame, green tea and Thai tea. According to Hom, the flavors are not limited to the ones listed — there is also a secret menu, and employees are encouraged to come up with their own flavors. Seasonally, he said, there will likely be different flavors.
The rolled ice cream, variety of flavors and choice of toppings are all intended to encourage customer involvement, Hom said.
“That’s the whole idea: getting people involved,” Hom said. “You can come here and be creative, and I think this is a creative area.”
Because of several roadblocks in the construction process, including the presence of old piping and the structural integrity of the building not being up to code, the restaurant took several months to be completed.
While Hom hopes to maintain a modern look, he also aims to honor the history of Caffe Mediterraneum in Boileroom by hanging photographs and other memorabilia on the walls.
“We don’t want to forget about the history of Berkeley,” Hom said. “We want to at least have some place where people can come by and say hey, this used to be Caffe Med.”