Saturday & Sunday
August 24 & 25
10:30 am - 5:30 pm
Oakland Chinatown 9 blocks from 7th St to 11th St, Broadway to Harrison St | 
Explore Oakland Chinatown
A "Real" Oakland's Chinese Community
This is an updated version of a special blast we put out for this event.  While the fair is over, we think you might find some of information here useful for a Chinatown visit. Thousands of Asian Americans from throughout Northern California attend this annual event and visit Oakland Chinatown regularly, but I hope more Oaklanders from other parts of the city will visit more often, too.  The wide range of free performances on two stages and about 200 vendors are always fun...but I find it is also fun to walk each block to see the merchants unique to this part of town: great regional Chinese and Pan-Asian restaurants, imports, herb & tea shops, boba drink shops, and Asian groceries.  Buy your crabs, shrimp, and fish, buy same day delivered free range chickens live or tropical fruits and the freshest produce.  


Traditional Asian dance, lion dances, music  and martial arts.


Wide range of bands from rock to soul.

Full Schedule Here


Hands On Arts an Crafts with the Oakland Museum of California and the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.


 While you are in Chinatown, you might want to pick up food to take home for dinner or stop to eat.  Almost every restaurant is family owned, even the smallest hole in the wall has at least one speciality that brings regular customer back.   Here are a few family no means a comprehensive list.
  • Dim Sum:  For the sit down experience try Peony (2nd Fl, Pacific Renaissance Plaza above the cultural stage) or Legendary Palace (Franklin & 7th).  As the carts go by just point, don't be shy to ask them to open the bamboo steam baskets for a look.  Smaller places which specialize in take outs include Tao Yuen (816 Franklin), Sum Sing (382 8th St) and Sum Yee Pastry (918 Webster).
  • Chinese Deli's:  You will see barbecued pork, duck, soy chicken and other prepared dishes  hanging in many windows which many busy families make the core of their meal with a few sauteed vegetables and rice.  My family loves duck and soy sauce chicken so our favorite is Gold Medal (389 8th St).  They also have the best shrimp dumplings in soup.

  •  For chewy hand made noodles: Shan Dong ( 328 10th St)  Choose the hand pulled noodles and pork/vegetable dumplings with the chili sauce. Northern/Shanghai style
  • For rice porridge and steamed noodle rolls, Gum Kuo (inside Pacific Renaissance Plaza on the Franklin side).  They will make the noodle rolls to order, we love the shrimp.  If you have  rice porridge, try dipping a fried doughnut.  Their barbecued meats are good, too.
  • For Boba Drinks and Ice Cream:  The Sweet Booth inside Pacific Renaissance Plaza is the place we visit every time we are in Chinatown.  They make the best Boba drinks with fresh fruit, honeydew/mango/watermelon are our favorites.  They make great lychee ice cream and we like sesame and avocado, too!  They also make a ginger milk pudding and mango pudding!!  The Sweetheart Cafe (315 9th St) is another favorite. 

  •  Most Chinese restaurants in America are Cantonese style, this large "real" Chinatown has  a great variety of Regional Chinese Restaurants; here are a few:
    • Shanghai Cafe -- 930 Webster, try the little fried pork buns
    • Taiwanese -- Spices 3 (369 12th St), spicy beef noodles!
    • Tian Jin Dumplings (989 Franklin) northern port city, try the pork chive dumplings
    •  Hot Pot Restaurant (370 12th St) -- Szechuan and hot pots
    •   Vegetarian -- Golden Lotus (1301 Franklin), try the dishes with fake meat made from tofu and the jalapeno tofu (right). Nature Vegetarian (1116 Franklin), try the curry pumpkin and vegan dumplings.
    • Asian Fusion Hong Kong Style -- Shooting Star (1068 Webster) this place is favored by the young and is known for its desserts, crepes and waffles.  Baked pork chops over rice and spaghetti with Asian spices.  Open till 2 am. 

  • Vietnamese and Other Asian Favorites:  Many of the Vietnamese in Oakland are ethnically Chinese so there is often a fusion in their restaurants.  Oakland Chinatown has always had other Asian groups here is a sampling:
    • Vietnamese -- Vien Huong (712 Franklin) great noodles.  Cam Huong (920 Webster) good Vietnamese sandwiches, Ho Banh Cuon Tay (344 12th St) noodles and crepes.
    • Filipino -- Cafe Gabriela (988 Broadway) Day time only, pulled pork adobo sandwiches
    • Cambodian --Phnom Penh House (251 8th Street) and Battambang (850 Broadway) 
    • Afghan -- Kamdesh Afghan Kabab House (346 14th St) have the lamb.
    • Indian-Pakistani -- Biryani Kabab (377 13th St) new place with good reviews

With the growth of suburban options, Oakland Chinatown hopes to attract more Oaklanders and commuters.  If you like to dine in Chinatown, the City Parking lot here charge a flat fee of $2 for evening parking.  Mondays thru Thursdays 5-11 pm


Dragon Mural

This large and beautiful Chinatown Water Dragon mural at 10th & Jackson was completed earlier this year thanks to many community donations.
Oakland Asian Cultural Center

Check out the revolving art and history exhibits.  A wide range of cooking, art, dance, and martial are classes offered here on the second floor of Pacific Renaissance.

Lincoln Square

The playground with its "junk boat" structure is a favorite with children. The Park and Rec Center here always has classes going on, from ballroom dancing to taichi.


Oakland Chinatown like others started in the 1850's during the Gold Rush, most immigrants were from 4 counties in Kwantung Province.  They swelled after anti-Chinese violence drove them out of mining and other jobs and into the City for protection. >>Post card of Oakland Chinatown in the 1880's.


"The first Chinese settlements in Oakland were at First and Castro Streets, Telegraph Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets, and San Pablo Avenue between 19th and 20th Streets. These settlements were frequently under siege. One burned down mysteriously. City leaders forced two other Chinese settlements to relocate. By the 1870s, Chinese began setting down roots at 8th and Webster Streets, the epicenter of today's Chinatown."  From Bill Wong's Oakland Chinatown History 


Even in the cities, the Chinese faced hardships.  They were blamed for the recession. The California Workingman's Party took over Oakland City government in 1882, when the Mayor and 4 members of the party were elected.  Between 1876 to 1891 the city passed a series of discriminatory laws to prevent Chinese from working or living in Oakland:  Unfair taxes on Chinese laundries, laws against vegetable peddlers, laws against tenements, barring Chinese from working in specific industries.  They were forced into the lowest paying jobs; the dams at Lake Chabot and Temescal, caves in wine country, the levees on the way to Sacramento, and of course the railroads were built by Chinese laborers.  They farmed the Oakland foothills introducing asparagus and other fruits/vegetables.  They also worked as cooks, domestics, cigar makers and shrimp industry.  White workers demanded that Chinese be fired and were often successful.  Some worked in the very dangerous gun powder and explosives industry.


The Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 would cut off immigration (first and only Congressional act barring a specific nationality) and forbade Chinese from becoming citizens.  This would destine 8 decades of lonely labor for most Chinese workers who left families behind in China.  Chinatown would shrink but persevere. Three generations of my family would live apart divided by the Pacific Ocean.


 The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake would swell Oakland Chinatown as 4000 Chinese refugees took the ferry across the bay.  San Francisco provided no relief and tried to prevent the Chinese from rebuilding.  Eventually half would stay including my great grandfather and his 3 sons.  Once again the city would try to force the Chinese to leave and eventually squeezed them into the current area surrounding 8th and Webster. Some of the Chinese, who stayed were the wealthier families who were allowed to bring wives, they preferred the better climate here for their children.  They were segregated into Lincoln School where most Chinese Americans would go to school through the 50's. 


The Chinese American Citizen's Association founded in 1880's to fight the anti-Chinese movement was established in Oakland, as well as several other family associations such a my association the Leung Kong Tien Association (Liu, Quan, Jeung, Chiu), Wong and Lee Family Associations, Suey Sing Tong, and Bing On Tong.


<<Oakland voters Emma Hoo Tom and Clara Chan Lee would be the first Chinese American women to register an vote in the US.


Social clubs would be formed by  American born Chinese like WaSang which formed boys and girls baseball teams and would later become a service club still volunteering in Chinatown today. Only in the 1930's would some Chinese be allowed to live outside of Chinatown.   The Mosswood Park area would be their first destination, later East Lake.  Chinese Exclusion was officially repealed in 1943 but a quota of only 105 Chinese immigrants would make it only symbolic.


It was World War II that would see the next big change.  China was an ally during the war and Chinese American GI's like my dad would be allowed to bring their wives to America.  My mother would be the first woman in our family to be allowed into America and I would be the first child born here.  Some Chinese Americans would be able to find employment in government jobs.


Chinatown meanwhile would be under attack physically as the 880 freeway would go right through the heart of the community, the building of Laney College and the Lake Merritt BART would tear down much of the residential housing of Chinese immigrants and they would move east of the Lake and then to the suburbs.


The next big expansion of Chinatown would  come in the 60's when the Kennedy Administration's immigration reforms would prioritize family reunification and long divided families would be reunited.  My sister and her family, my aunt and many others would be among those.  After the Cold War and Nixon's visit, the small Chinatown would explode with more authentic restaurants and products from China would come flooding in after the US-China relations thawed with Nixon.   Children and parents separated for decades would be reunited.  I would be part of the first group of Chinese Americans to visit China in 1971 and I would meet both my grandmother and my husband's grandmother before they died.


Over 20 family associations and cultural groups would be established.  This coincided with redevelopment and the Chinese community would fight to preserve its core including the first low income housing and the building of the Oakland Asian Cultural Center and Asian Library Branch.  The first Chinese American council members would be appointed in the 60's -- Dr. Raymond Eng and Frank Ogawa.  Henry Chang and Danny Wan would be appointed in the 90's.  Wilma Chan and I were elected to the School Board in 1990.  I was the first Asian American and first Asian American woman to be directly elected to the Council in 2002.


This year Congress apologized for the Chinese Exclusion Act and the national Chinese American Citizens Alliance gathered in Oakland for their convention to plan an education campaign about the Act.  Today Asian Americans live all over Oakland but Chinatown remains a first stop for many immigrants, comfortable home for many seniors and a cultural home to American born and suburban Asians, who return to shop, eat, enjoy cultural institutions and youth services.  The City is working with the community to complete the Lake Merritt area plan and the future of Chinatown is about to change again.


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