Sweet Surprises

    Fresh fruit smoothies and traditional Chinese ginger milk custard are two of the many delights on the menu at Sweet Booth (143 A Park St.; 510-263-0333). “A lot of places use syrup and powder for their fruit drinks. We use fresh fruit and tapioca pearls, and our emphasis is on health. For example, ginger is good for digestion and circulation,” says Calvin Tong who, in 1993, opened his first Sweet Booth in Oakland’s Chinatown (388 Ninth St., No. 155; 510-893-3633). Tong has lived on the Island for more than 20 years, and for some time had been looking for the right location to open a hometown branch—both to introduce Alameda to something new and to serve his store’s many Alameda fans who, until recently, had to make the trip to Chinatown to enjoy his tasty treats.
    If you hate grocery shopping, can’t make time for the farmers markets and yet like the idea of home-cooked meals, you might check out Dream Dinners (Park Street Landing, 2307 Blanding Ave., Suite F; 510-337-1105). Alameda franchise owner Noreen Roth opened her fix-and-freeze meal-assembly business in January. The Dream Dinners goes something like this: Every month, a chef at the home base comes up with 14 meals. All franchise holders get the month’s menu and all the ingredients delivered. Dream Dinners customers preview a monthly menu online at dreamdinners.com, select what they want (from a menu featuring such entrees as herb-crusted flank steak and citrus-ginger salmon) and sign up for a two-hour time-slot to assemble their meals. The meals are created from the fresh, raw ingredients, then taken home and frozen until needed. Dream Dinners works for people who don’t have the time or inclination to shop, do the prep work for a meal or face the afterward cleanup.

—By Wanda Hennig

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