Berkeley restaurants

Popular mochi bakery Third Culture opens two locations in SF

San Francisco squishy mochi muffin lovers won’t have to cross the bridge to experience the chewy glory of Third Culture Bakery soon. The Berkeley spot is expanding with two locations in San Francisco this year.

The two new locations — in the Mission District and Inner Sunset — will offer a familiar array of mochi muffins and donuts in electric Asian American flavors like ube, yuzu and black sesame. As with the Berkeley and Walnut Creek locations, San Francisco outlets will also specialize in matcha, offering the grassy green tea with sparkling water or as creamy lattes, perhaps topped with mashed strawberry and lychee.

The Mission store will debut at 1186 Valencia St. near 23rd St., hopefully around July. The 1,200 square foot space will have outdoor seating and more kitchen space to get away from sweets with savory dishes like mochi waffles, egg sandwiches and rice bowls. Before launching Third Culture, co-owner Sam Butarbutar cooked at famed SF restaurant Lazy Bear.

More recently, Butarbutar has become certified in matcha ceremonies, so it hopes to build a counter at the Mission site for matcha tastings that showcase its history and precise preparation.

Third Culture Bakery is opening a new location at 549 Irving St., San Francisco.

Provided by Third Culture Bakery

The Inner Sunset location is slated to debut in late fall at 549 Irving St. on 7th Avenue. The smaller 800 square foot space will focus on the same mochi and matcha treats available at the original third crop.

All pastries will be baked in Berkeley and transported daily to San Francisco.

For the design, co-owner Wenter Shyu plans to wrap the entire Mission space, floor to ceiling, in a “dusty pink, sunset-like ombré pattern” on vinyl. In the Sunset, he thinks of something similar, or maybe a holographic pink box.

Owners Sam Butarbutar and Wenter Shyu make matcha at Third Culture Bakery in Berkeley.  They are opening two new locations in San Francisco.

Owners Sam Butarbutar and Wenter Shyu make matcha at Third Culture Bakery in Berkeley. They are opening two new locations in San Francisco.

Celeste Noche/Special for The Chronicle 2019

Third Culture has grown rapidly since its inception nearly five years ago. (Watch out for a big 5-year-old birthday party on April 23-24 in Berkeley with daifuku and fried chicken mochi waffles topped with truffles.) The bakery started by supplying mochi muffins to many cafes in the area. of the bay, then expanded with two locations in Colorado. . Both recently closed as sales there plummeted during the pandemic.

Shyu said he remembers how daunting the prospect of opening in San Francisco was, even though he knows a significant portion of Third Culture’s sales come from the city’s residents.

“We’ve been through the open and now we’ve been through the close. San Francisco has always been this scary big business,” he said. “But now? We feel more empowered.

Third Culture Bakery. Opening at 1186 Valencia St. and 549 Irving St., San Francisco. thirdculturebakery.com

Janelle Bitker is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @janellebitker