Step into Oakland’s Chinatown, and you’ll be instantly immersed in all of the amazing culture packed into the sixteen square blocks. Get swept up into the sights and scenes, from the spices at the herbal shops to the variety of culinary delights to treat your taste buds to.
Whether you’ve only visited a couple of times or frequented enough to know to watch out for the double parkers, we’re rounding up five dishes to try the next time you make your way down to Chinatown.
EGG TARTS FROM RUBY KING BAKERY
Golden Gate Bakery in the city gets lots of hype for their egg tarts across the Bay, but we think that egg tarts from Ruby King are right there with them. Also known as dan tat in Cantonese, these tarts consist of a golden flaky crust filled with an egg custard center. It’s a tried-and-true treat, and no trip to Chinatown is complete without getting a few.
CHICKEN RICE PORRIDGE FROM GUM KUO
Also known as congee, porridge is a classic dish made out of rice that has been boiled and simmered in water over a long period of time. There is a variety of different ingredients for porridge, ranging from pork and minced beef to scallops and even a thousand-year-old egg. While these are all good options to try, we suggest going with the chicken porridge from Gum Kuo. This comforting dish has a nice balance of flavors with salt and white pepper and is garnished with cilantro and scallions.
PINEAPPLE BUNS FROM WONDER FOOD BAKERY
These soft sweet buns at Wonder Food Bakery are made with a golden-crusted top. And while the name might lead you to believe that you’ll soon be biting into chunks of pineapple, you actually won’t find any pineapples here. Also known as balo bao in Cantonese, these buns get their name from how the top crust resembles the skin of a pineapple.
NOODLE DONUTS FROM MING TASTY
From shrimp dumplings to pan-fried turnip cakes, there is a nice variety of dim sum available at Ming Tasty. To that end, we suggest adding the noodle donuts to your next dim sum order. Noodle donuts, also known as zhialiang in Cantonese, are long pieces of fried bread wrapped inside of sheets of rice noodles. The dish is then finished with a drizzle of a sweet and savory soy sauce. The crunchy bread and soft noodles come together nicely with the sauce making this a dish hard to resist.
SPICY WONTONS FROM SHANDONG
The hand-pulled noodles at Shandong are pretty popular and pre-COVID; you’d get a front-row seat to the chef’s whipping up the hand-pulled noodles at the front of the restaurant. They are always a draw here, and you should definitely try them if you haven’t already, but we’re actually here to tell you about the spicy wontons. This savory dish is not as spicy as it looks and consists of wontons bathed in a delicious sauce made out of soy sauce and a Sichuan chili oil.
So, there you have it, a quick roundup of five things to try out next time you visit Oakland Chinatown. Don’t forget to check out the amazing street art around Chinatown, showcasing some cool murals by non-profit Three Thirty Three Arts (previously known as Dragon School) to share beautiful artwork to be enjoyed by the community. Click here for the map roundup.