Thursday, June 21, 2007

Useful Berkeley Living Info

The following few posts will outline some of the more useful things I learned at Berkeley (outside of class of course). I will provide some insights on some of the places to live and eat around Berkeley.

Some general useful info:
- BART is about 15 min walk from Haas.
- BART to Oakland Airport is about 35 mins and to SFO is about 55mins.
- San Francisco (Union Square) is about 30 mins away by car ($4 bridge toll), about 1 hr away by BART ($3.2 each way), and 1h 15 mins by AC Transit Bus (free for Berkeley students).
- If you have a car and plan on going to SF a lot, get a FastTrak - its not cheaper, but it can save you 10-45 mins on your commute to SF.
- As a Berkeley student, you get a free AC Transit pass that takes you all around Berkeley, Oakland and to SF.
- Useful AC Transit lines - F goes to SF, 51 to Oakland/Alameda
- A good place that I used to go get a Haircut is called Edge at Telegraph and Channing. My stylist is named Rose, she's really good - at least for Asian males.
- 99 Ranch Market (Asian grocery market) is located in Richmond, which is about 15 min drive from Berkeley. There is a bus to 99, but it has multiple transfers that make it about 35 mins ride. I am not sure if you want to be carrying all those groceries while making transfers.
- Berkeley Bowl is a great place to shop for fresh fruits and other misc grocery items. Think Trader Joe's
- Emeryville Bay Street is nice alternative to SF Shopping. About 15 mins drive.

Places to eat outside of Berkeley:

Sushi House - Americanized Sushi located in Alameda, which is about 25 mins away from Berkeley. Try the Lion King (Teriyaki Salmon baked over Californian Rolls). About ~$10 / roll.
French Laundry by Chef Thomas Keller. Famous French restaurant located Yountville (about 15 mins past Napa). Can only make reservations 1 month ahead and it usually gets booked within a day. $240/person.

Things to do in Berkeley:
Hike the Big C
Visit Lawrence Laboratory (Nice View)
Visit the Rose Gardens
Visit the Berkeley Marina
Play Golf at Tilden Golf Course
Shop at 4th Street - Nice "Yuppie" shopping, eating area. Try Bette's Oceanview Diner for great breakfast, Vik's Chaat Corner for some cheap Indian food, and Eccolo for some great Italian fusion.

South Side Berkeley

South Side
This area is the more "happening" side of campus with tons of undergrads in the area. With Frat Row on Piedmont and three undergraduates dormitories, this area can get a little loud on a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. It is convenient to live on this side because you close to Haas - roughly 5-10 min walk. It is also about 10-15 mins from the BART with access to pretty much all of the AC Transit bus lines. Some campus housing options include:
Jackson House - Graduate Housing. This is where I lived. I lived with 3 flatmates in a 4 bdrm apt, 2 bths. It's a bit expensive as it cost about $950. Included are maid service every week, all utilities including water, electricity, cable TV, and campus T3 Internet service. Roughly ~5 Haas Students live here.
International House - "I-House" is not just for International Students, but for all students - both graduates and undergraduates. Rent is a bit cheaper at $11k / year with everything at Jackson House and a meal plan. Roughly ~5 House Students live here.
Both options are great for single students who want to be close to campus.

Another ways of looking for Housing in Berkeley:
Cal Rentals - costs like $40 to view all the listings, but its worth it
Housing Maps - integrates craiglists and google maps. Pick SF-East Bay for Berkeley

It is also super close to the 'Asian Ghetto', the unofficial title of the food court located on Durant Ave. This food court has been my favorite place to eat because of its low price ($5-$8) and wide variety. Some of my favorite establishments include:
Gypsy's - Great Italian food for about $7 bucks. Try the Godfather's Favorite or Gypsy's Special.
Thai Basil - Great Thai food for about $7 bucks. Portions are a bit smaller, but the food is tasty.
Steve Korean BBQ - Cheap Korean BBQ for about $6. The running joke is that Steve is not Korean, but the food is good.
Vietnamese / Chinese - The owners are Chinese, but they have Pho. I like this place because they are cheaper (@ ~$5) and satisfies my Chinese and Vietnamese fixes.

Across the street are:
Top Dog - Berkeley's most popular hot dog place. Try the Chicken Apple, Lemon Chicken, or Louisiana (spicy) for something different. A bit pricy at $2.5 / dog, but it's good.
La Burrita - Open till 2am (like Top Dog), they have good Mexican food at a low price ~ $5-7 / plate. Try the enchiladas, wet burrito, and philly steak burrito.
House of Curries - I like it a bit more than Naan and Curry. A bit pricey though at $8 / curry and $2 / naan.

Further Down West:
Pizza by the Slice - Fat Slice and Blondies. I am personally partial to the pepperoni at Fat Slice because their dough and crust are softer, while Blondies is more dense and thinner. But at about $3 / slice (a really big slice), its a great deal either way.
Thai House - Actually down Channing, it has slightly better Thai food at about ~$8-9.
Great Wall - On Shattuck, this is the most authentic Chinese Food you will find in Berkeley. Great Peking Duck. Expect $10-$20 / person.
Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen - Pretty good southern food (although I'm not sure if I'm the best judge of its authenticity). Usually get the cajun shrimp or jambalaya. About ~$9-$15.

Up for something more expensive?
Unicorn - Asian Fusion. Menu changes weekly with interesting dishes like Wasabi Curry and Lychee Duck. A good deal at about ~$20 / person.
Adagia - Located right on College/Bancroft across campus so you will run into a lot of professors. Typical California food, have had the lamb, steak, and scallops. ~$25-35 / person.
Kirala - Japanese Sushi on Shattuck. Never been, but heard its pretty good. Expensive though - $30-$40.

Local Bars:
Henry's - At the Durant Hotel. Used to have 2 beers for $2 on Tuesday. I think their happy hours are now on Weds. More of a quiet / chill / older bar (except after Football Games).
Blake's - There is a dance floor in the basement. The stickiness of the bars/tables bother me sometime, but its a reasonable bar/resturant
Raleigh's - Similar to Blakes, but I like it more. Better selection of beer and gives off a cleaner feel.
Bear's Lair - Official school bar/pub. Beer is cheap and convenient. Good place to go to after a tough statistic's final.
Bars on Shattuck:
Beckett's - Irish Pub. Grab some Guinness and you're looking good.
Jupiter - Has a nice outdoor area where they have live music. They brew their own beer and have awesome pizza.
Triple Rock - They also brew their own beer, but its a bit on the smaller side. Across the street is a late-night Thai food place with cheap food.

More info on bars,

Pros: Convenient location, Lots of really cheap food, Close to Haas (5-15 mins walk)
Cons: Lots of undergrads, kind of rowdy on the weekends, Expensive parking ($175 / month)

North Side

North Side
The Engineering buildings are located on the North Side, therefore this is the quieter side of campus. There are some good cheap food options here, including a Top Dog, La Burrita, and a Thai and Korean BBQ place that I can't think of their names now. But they close earlier at ~10pm versus 11pm - 12 on Southside. Having never lived on this side, its hard for me to comment. But most graduate students like to live on North Side. There are a few apartment buildings closer to campus, but mostly students live in a 3-4 bedroom house with roommates. A great way to find roommates are at Super Saturday or Days at Haas or through the Haas Google Groups.

In addition, down closer to Shattuck is what we call the "Gourmet Ghetto". Here you will find fine dining, highlighted by Chez Panisse. Founded by Alice Waters, she "unleashed an epicurean revolution by focusing on locally grown, seasonal ingredients." There is a fixed menu that costs around $50 on Monday to about $80 / person. You can go upstairs and go ala carte for about $25-35 / person. All prices don't include wine of course. Other places to try:
Cesar's - A nice Tapas place with great sangrias. Each dish is about $5-8 and about 3-4 dishes / person is good. Fun atmosphere. Cafe de La Paz is a similar place on north side.
Cheeseboard - Great Pizza! They only serve one kind of pizza / day and its all organic and vegetarian. And even though I'm a meat lover, I love this place! Slices are $2 for a much smaller slice than the other pizza places. 2-3 slices are recommended, or grab a whole pie! They also have great cheese.
Cha Am - A good thai place, although more expensive than the South Side options ~$9-10.
- French take-out. Had it twice and really liked the food. About $15 / dish, $5 / side.
Saul's - A New York deli. Been there once and the food was good. About ~$12.
Cha-Ya - Vegertarian Japanese Food. Had it in SF and it was pretty good. ~9-10

These are places I have tried. For even choices, check this article out,

Pros: Quiet, Nice Houses to live in, Gourmet Food places about 5-10 mins away, Can have a car.
Cons: Farther from Haas, 15-25 min walk

Rockridge / Elmwood

Rockridge / Elmwood
Nice place for "Yuppies". Lots a nice places to eat and about 15-20 mins walk to Haas. Bus transportation is available. The 51 takes back to Berkeley in about 7 mins and it comes every 10 mins or so. A BART station is about 5-10 mins away too. Lastly, a Safeway and Albertsons is in the area.

Some Places to eat at:
Zachery's Pizza- Chicago-Style Pizza. Expect Lines and expensive pizza (~$20 / large pizza). But the pizza is really good and unique. Try the Chicken Specialty with some Anchor Steam.
Trattoria La Sicilina - Excellent at a reasonable price ~$15! It's a bit on the smaller side with limited seating, but its worth it. Try the Squid Ink or Pesto pasta.
Grasshopper - A tapas place. Not as fun as Cesar, but the food was good.
Shen Hua - Pretty good Chinese food, albeit a bit Americanized and pricer ~$12 a dish.
Manpuku - My friends favorite Japanese place in Berkeley. It has good combo deals for about ~$10.

For more info,

Pros: Quiet "Yuppie" area, good mix of cheaper and expensive food
Cons: A bit further from Haas, rent can get more expensive, especially in Rockridge

San Francisco

San Francisco:
I've never lived in SF, but roughly about 10-25% of the class live in SF. San Francisco is about 45 mins to 1 hr to Haas by BART. Rent ranges from $1000 - $2000 depending on the area and size. But you can expect to pay about $800-$1200 / person to share a pretty nice place in SF.
Areas to consider:
Japanese Town - Cheaper rent, but further from public transportation. Probably will need a car.
Russian Hill / Nob Hill - Really nice area, but really expensive rent.
South San Francisco - Cheaper rent, but will definitely need a car.

Housing Maps is a great way to look for a place. It integrates Craiglist and Google Maps.

Places that come to mind:
Gary Danko's - Ranked #1 by Zagats for the Bay Area. About $80-$155 / person
Masa's - Similar to Gary Danko's. About $80-$120 / person.
Roy's - Expensive Hawaiian fusion food. Food is good, decor is nice. Expect about $50-60 / person.
Ana Mandara - Vietnamese/French Fusion. Food is pretty good, but I think the decor is it's main attraction. Really nice Southeast Asian feel. Also a Jazz Bar upstairs.
Medjools - Really nice Mediterranean place with great tapas and interesting drinks. Expect about $8-12 / tapa. The place turns into a dance lounge at night on the weekend. It also opens up the roof in the Spring and Summer and has a great view of the city.
Golden Gate Bakery - Have you ever had Chinese Egg Tarts, the ones you get at Dim Sum? Well, they have the best egg tarts this side of Shenzhen. It's about a bit smaller than a donut (which is a lot bigger than normal ones) for about a $1. My parents bought 2 dozen back to LA with them.

Things to See/Do:
Bike Across Golden Gate Bridge
Visit Fisherman's Wharf
Visit Alcatraz Island
Visit North Beach Nightlife
Visit Chinatown - the largest Chinatown outside of China.
Drive on Lombard Street
Great Shopping in Union Square
Take your dog to Fort Funston - largest dog park in SF

Classes that I recommend

Here are a few of the classes that I really liked at Haas:
Core + 1 - classes that are really useful
Managerial Accounting with Nicole Johnson.
Really useful class because you learn different ways of accounting that affect a company's pricing, value and profitability. Was really useful in consulting interviews. I hear Sunil is really good at teaching this class.
Financial Modeling with Sarah Tasker. Really intense and fast moving class on financial modeling. Very useful class that you should take before you graduate.

Elective Classes:
Pricing with Teck Ho.
By far the most popular class while I was at Haas. He's class went for about 801 / 1000 points. I really enjoyed his class because of his outstanding enthusiasm for teaching. He also integrated a lot of computer simulations that were a lot of fun. The class was very useful for consulting interviews as well.
Creativity and Innovation in Marketing with Jennifer Aaker. A new hire from Stanford and daughter of Haas branding legend David Aaker, Jennifer was awesome. She is really passionate about teaching and did a great job in her first class at Haas. She had outstanding speakers, like Geoffrey Moore, and interesting projects.
Power and Politics with John Freeman. Freeman did a really good job of mixing lecture, guest speakers and movies. Freeman brought in outstanding speakers like John Hanke - founder of Keyhole, which later became Google Maps after its acquisition by Google. I hear Anderson is also really good.
Competitive and Corporate Strategy with Paul Tiffany. Lots of interesting cases, including ones on Google, McKinsey and GE. Tiffany does a good job of keeping an 8am class interesting and interactive.
Information Technology based Marketing with Florian Zettelmeyer. Outstanding professor - former McKinsey - and very useful class if you are interested in consumer marketing.
Opportunity Recognition with Drew Isaacs. Part of the MOT Speaker Series. We've had some great speakers come in, including Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures), Randy Komisar (Kleiner Perkins), and Mark Kvamme (Sequoia Capital).
Game Theory with John Morgan. I never took the class, but I heard it was a very interesting class about strategy. Morgan won a Cheit Award for his teaching this year.
Financial Information Analysis with Shai Levi. A useful course on how to value a company. I audited the course for a bit and it was interesting. From what I heard is that this class is more useful than Corporate Finance for people going into non-finance careers.