Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oakland Chinatown Street Festival

The Oakland Chinatown Street Festival took place last weekend. I went looking for food and to enjoy the celebration in this vibrant and diverse community. Upon arrival, I was greeted with this sight:

If I'm not mistaken, an old school Maoist right in our midst! How exciting!

What is the best way to engage such a man you might ask? Dialogue? No, of course not. Some middle age lady was marching around waving a small American flag yelling "Happy, Happy!" It would have been quite an amusing scene had she not told the man with the signs to "Go home." Charming.

I decided my appetite was getting out of hand, so I went looking for food. What might be lurking on the streets, I wondered. Quickly my heart sank when I realized that this is America, we don't really have street food. Actually, it was this sign that reminded me:

It was a sign from Oakland's finest warning locals to keep their garbage off the sidewalk, keep Oakland clean, but most ominously emphasized their point with "We are watching." I thought it was a joke until I realized that the choice not was written in the same hand as the rest of the form. Thanks OPD! At least they didn't shoot anyone.

This wasn't all as demoralizing as it sounds, as Chinatown is still kind of a fun place to have a meal, or a meal of snacks. I tried ducking into some of the bakeries and dim sum shops, but it was Pandemonium. As Chinatown is not merely peopled with Chinese folks, I ducked into a bustling Vietnamese joint.

Yes, this would do nicely. Sandwiches, or Bahn mi started at 2.25 a piece. If this is out of your price range, you've got problems. I ordered a pork and pate sandwich.

Well, at least it was cheap. This poverty stricken sandwich was a mild disappointment, but so what. While it didn't measure up to very good versions I've sampled all over SE Asia, this was a fun treat. Also, I still had room for more!

BC Deli
818 Franklin St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 286-9978

I went next door to a dumpling shop.

There was quite a nice display in the window of freshly steamed buns, and a sizable line of excited party goers. I waited for the line to shorten, then I made my move.

The menu was about a mile long so I just pointed. I ended up with a trifecta of pork buns and out I went. I picked up a copy of the same damn Falun Gong newspaper people give me every time i am near a Chinatown.

Sauceless, but good.

Pork, water chestnut, garlic, and a little fungus was all I needed. Or maybe I should say all I didn't need. My desire and ability to consume lots of pork has dramatically decreased as of late. I usually eat very little meat, a lot of veggies and grains, so this little binge was all too much. But I was thirsty, so I needed something.

Tao Yuen
816 Franklin St
(between 8th St & 9th St)
Oakland, CA 94607


I walked into a bubble tea shop. The place was full of teenagers as these places often are. I ordered a green jasmine pearl tea.

Plastic cup, sugary tea, and tapioca pearls. If you're about fifteen, this is probably your idea of heaven. I do love the pearls, but try to avoid the plastic when I can.


Sweetheart Cafe
315 9th Street
(between Harrison St & Webster St)
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 835-8136

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