Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - June 3, 2011

Shop Talk

MEAL MARKETPLACE ... Busy Silicon Valley professionals often turn to fast food and takeout. Ooshma Garg, founder of Gobble.com, was also in the same boat and missed home-cooked meals. "Basically, I was hungry," Garg said. Fed up with eating takeout, she decided to do something about it — Gobble was the answer. The word conjures memories of a warm, traditional meal at Thanksgiving, she said, and this is the spirit behind Gobble: "a marketplace for fresh meals from neighborhood chefs," according to the website. For $8 to $20, diners can have what's billed as "homemade, elegant, high-quality food" for lunch and dinner cooked by chefs in the Bay Area.

Garg, a 23-year-old Stanford graduate, studied biomedical engineering but fell in love with Internet companies in college, she said. Garg got the idea for Gobble last August and posted ads for chef interviews on Craigslist: The interview was cooking a meal for two. Garg scheduled chef interviews at the times she needed to eat, and invited friends. The business got its start as Garg matched up the chefs with her friends' companies.

Now there are 30 chefs, who draw influences from various cuisines in their cooking, Garg said. Meals include Chef Ingrid Rohrer Downer's California-influenced chicken and black bean pie ($12) and Chef Alisa Chotibhongs' Thai noodle dish, pad see ew ($16). Chefs deliver the food as one would receive it from a friend: in Ziploc containers, for example. Clients can pick up meals at three locations: in Palo Alto, Mountain View and San Francisco. Delivery to one's doorstep is also available for a flat rate of $10. For details, go to Gobble.com.

— Joann So

FOCUS ON HUMMUS ... Scheduled to open in the second half of June, Oren's Hummus Shop at 261 University Ave. is characterized by its owner as a casual, sit-down eatery whose menu centers on a key ingredient of Middle Eastern cuisine: hummus. The restaurant will occupy the space that was occupied by the Zao Noodle House, with a casual environment and emphasis on the Middle Eastern dip, owner Oren Dobronsky said. "Hummus is one of my secret passions," said Dobronsky, an Internet entrepreneur who immigrated from Israel 11 years ago. Eaten at the restaurant or bought in containers from a takeout station, the shop's hummus, tahini and labneh (or strained yogurt) are made from organic ingredients, he said. "Our hummus is made fresh and we import many of our ingredients from Israel, like the chickpeas and tahini." The hummus can be topped with mushrooms, fava beans or even meat. Dobronsky says it's best enjoyed scooped with fresh pita — which he plans to bake — rather than with a knife and fork. Side dishes on offer will include salads such as tabouleh, and Israeli pickles.

— Kareem Yasin

Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business moving out, or in, down the block or across town? Shop Talk will check it out. Email shoptalk@paweekly.com.

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