Cultural Crossover

Rent a Segway, sip cafe sua da, and geek out in Eastlake.



Curries are the thing at Chai Thai Noodles.

Photo by Chris Duffey

Most people in Oakland are well aware of the stores and restaurants that surround Lake Merritt. But venture a few blocks from the lake and you might be surprised how much is going on off the beaten path. The area southeast of Lake Merritt, sometimes called Merritt or East Peralta or simply Eastlake, has a large population of immigrants from Asia, particularly Vietnam, China, Cambodia, and Thailand. Restaurants showcasing these cuisines abound, as well as stores selling joss sticks, Hell money, and Asian devotional items. And bring your shopping bags—you won’t want to leave without stopping at one of the local supermarkets for imported tea, dried herbs, or shrimp chips.

 

Photos by Chris Duffey

Roll with Segway of Oakland.

Shop

See the world from a different perspective—on a Segway. Segway of Oakland has new and used vehicles and accessories of all stripes, from patrollers, made (in)famous by Paul Blart: Mall Cop, to adventure models with deep treads for off-roading, and Segway’s new Ninebot Personal Transportation Robot—similar to a hoverboard that you steer with your knees. And best of all, Segway of Oakland offers Segway tours throughout Oakland and beyond. Zip around Lake Merritt or trail blaze through redwoods on a guided tour. 212 International Blvd., 510-832-2429, SegwayOfOakland.com.

Cooks rejoice: You don’t have to travel far to find mapo doufu, fresh noodles, turtle and frog meat, oxtail, and Vietnamese coffee, all at affordable prices. Sun Hop Fat Supermarket carries these items and more. This large supermarket has a variety of fresh and live seafood, produce, housewares, and specialized ingredients for all types of Pan-Asian cuisine.  501 E. 12th St., 510-763-8888.

 

Play

Have you ever had a great idea for a T-shirt? Or wanted to try your hand at screen-printing? Silk Screen Savages can help you refine your design and offers fast turnaround times on orders big and small. Classes in screen-printing are held in the studio, where students learn about design, technique, and printing multicolor images. Silk Screen Savages can also come to your party or event and perform on-site live screen-printing. 436 E. 12th St., 510-350-7815,  SilkScreenSavages.com.

Slow down and enjoy a stroll through Clinton Square Park. Set in a neighborhood that once boasted Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson as residents, this park encompasses a city block and its adjacent Vietnamese-American Community Center serves as a hub for the low-income, immigrant, and refugee populations living nearby. The park offers paths for dog walking, a wide green lawn for picnicking, and a colorful, enclosed playground for toddlers and up. Sixth and International avenues.

Photo by Chris Duffey

Stroll in Clinton Square Park.

If you know anything about web design and want to help your community, consider spending an hour volunteering at Hack the Hood. Featured on CNN, NPR, and Tech Crunch, Hack the Hood introduces low-income youth of color to tech careers by training them in web development and hiring them to create websites for local small businesses. Hack the Hood is always seeking volunteers to help mentor youth in web design, coding, user experience, and more. 439 International Blvd. Ste. 1, HackTheHood.org.

 

Eat

Come for the coffee, stay for the scratchers. Cafe Da Huong is known in the neighborhood for its specialty, cafe sua da, or Vietnamese iced coffee. Made with sweetened condensed milk, this coffee drink is strong and delicious. Locals gather at Cafe Da Huong to chat, play guitar, and try their luck at the scratch-off tickets sold in the cafe that boasts some of the friendliest service this side of the lake. 605 E. 12th St., 510-350-8287.

Ask anyone in the neighborhood where to find the best pho and the answer is always the same: Pho King. With fresh ingredients, artful execution of beloved traditional recipes, affordable prices, and large portions, it’s easy to see why Pho King is usually packed full for lunch. Try the bun bo hue, a soup containing rice vermicelli and beef, considered by many to be the best in the East Bay. 638 International Blvd., 510-444-0448.

Chai Thai Noodles is an Oakland gem. This small, mostly take-out restaurant serves up authentic Thai food including yellow, red, and green curries, tamarind shrimp, pork leg stew, and chan pad poo. The catfish curry is a local favorite, followed by sweet, fried roti pancakes for dessert. 545 International Blvd., Ste. B,  510-832-2500, ChaiThaiNoodle.com.

 

Published online on March 23, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.

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