Best places to eat and drink in Oakland’s Chinatown
One of the oldest Chinatown neighborhoods in North America, Oakland Chinatown was a hub for new immigrants arriving from the southern region of China in the mid-19th century. Later, it became a place where Southeast Asian refugees settled and started small businesses. Today, Oakland Chinatown is a diverse, cross-generational neighborhood that is nestled in the city’s downtown core, with 8th and Webster Street representing the central heartbeat of the neighborhood, and the loose boundaries of 12th Street to the north, the Interstate 880 near 6th Street to the south, Broadway to the west, and Lake Merritt to the east. Less touristy than San Francisco’s famous Chinatown, Oakland’s version has just as many culinary treasures.
But like Chinatowns across the country, the Oakland neighborhood suffered a loss of business as a result of anti-Asian prejudice and violence in 2020 and 2021. Combined with a drop in business due to COVID , the community now needs support more than ever.
It is the mission of Collective of cut fruits, founded by Daphne Wu and Maya Kulkarni during the pandemic to support Bay Area Chinatowns. “We hope we can inspire people to be fearless, to come together and build a stronger community that can be resilient in the face of all these challenges,” Wu said.
With international offerings, Oakland Chinatown is a great place to ring in the Lunar New Year which begins February 1 and is celebrated by many Asian cultures including Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Mongolian. Food is an essential part of the holiday, with certain dishes representing good luck and prosperity in the coming year. As we usher in the Year of the Tiger, here are some must-visit spots, from the East Bay’s oldest boba shop to peking duck banh mi sandwiches. the Oakland Asian Cultural Center will host an in-person Lunar New Year celebration in Chinatown on February 6, with additional virtual events in February.
It’s worth noting that while many restaurants in Chinatown stay open during major American holidays, such as Christmas, some smaller family-run stores close for up to two weeks from Lunar New Year. Keep this in mind when visiting.