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Asian Markets – Oakland’s Chinatown

Michael Babcock, August 3rd, 2011

One of the two best locales to shop for Asian ingredients in Oakland, California is Oakland’s Chinatown. When Kasma does her weekly shopping for her Thai cooking classes, she invariably begins at Oakland’s Chinatown. Below are the stores where she shops.

One map I came across shows Oakland’s Chinatown Boundaries as a rectangle bound by Broadway and Oak on two sides and 6th Street and 11th Street on the other two sides. The stores where Kasma shops are all within a narrower area, bounded by Broadway and Webster on two sides and 7th Street and 9th Street on the other sides.

Although it is called Chinatown, it is really more pan-Asian as the stores are run not only by Chinese but also by Southeast Asians such as Vietnamese.

Street parking can be somewhat hard to find in Chinatown, particularly on 8th Street and 9th Street where there are many stores. Double-parked vehicles, including large delivery trucks, are very common on these two streets. On weekday mornings, Kasma can sometimes find parking on Broadway between 8th Street and 9th Street. When I shop here I usually drive up 9th Street (it’s a one-way street) coming from Clay Street and park at the metered-street parking either between Clay and Washington or between Washington and Broadway. Alternatively, there’s a parking lot under the Asian Cultural Center, which is found on Franklin Street in-between 9th and 10th. Drive up 9th (one-way) from Broadway and turn onto Franklin (left only, Franklin is one-way) and the parking lot is underground to your right. It costs the same to park here as on the street, but they charge in hour-long increments.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Oakland Chinatown’s Asian Markets

Khanh Phong Super Market

Khanh Phong Super Market

Khanh Phong Super Market

429 Ninth St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 839-9094

Khanh Phong closed in May, 2013.

Khanh Phong is a medium-size Southeast Asian market, owned by a friendly Vietnamese family. This is where Kasma normally begins her shopping. In addition to all the usual sauces and canned goods, there’s a butcher, a good selection of frozen seafood and fresh produce. Like many of the markets, the produce spills over onto the streets. The meat in Chinatown is very inexpensive; unfortunately, this means that it comes from large, industrial-sized factory farms. Kasma prefers to buy meat raised more naturally and sourced from smaller farms at other locations (such as the Berkeley Bowl); however, there are certain cuts of meat, particularly pork belly  and pork leg with the skin still on, that are all but impossible to find outside of Asian markets.


Wah Hang Market

Wah Hang Market

Wah Hang Market

415 Ninth St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 268-0358

Wah Hang Market is a small shop just a couple of stores down the street from Khanh Phong. Kasma occasionally stops here mainly to look for fresh produce; if Khanh Phong is out of a certain item or if the freshness is not to Kasma’s liking, she’ll stroll down here and see what is on display. She’ll also buy certain cuts of pork here, again, if Khanh Phong doesn’t have what pleases her.


Yuen Hop Noodle Company

Yuen Hop Noodle Company

Yuen Hop Noodle Company

824 Webster St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 451-2698

Kasma comes to Yuen Hop Noodle Company basically for two items. One is the loosely packed bags of fresh-made rice noodles, which are the best rice noodles on this side of the Bay. The other is a snack – Chinese-style mochi (sticky rice dough balls) stuffed with a ground black sesame and peanut filling that is very good and a favorite snack among her students. Both are usually sold out before noon. Although it is called the “Noodle Company”, the store is more or less a typical Asian grocery store carrying a wide variety of fresh produce, dried seafood products (occasionally the hard-to-find salted mackerel), and packaged and canned goods. The cookware aisles are worth a look.


Sam Yick Market

Sam Yick Market

Sam Yick Market

362 Eighth St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 832-0662

Sam Yick closed in 2016.

Sam Yick is a couple of blocks away on 8th Street. Kasma shops here only if there are items she can’t find at Khanh Phong and Wah Hang. It’s also a good place to shop for a mortar and pestle. (See Kasma’s blog on The Mortar and Pestle.)


Wing Fat Market

Wing Fat Market

Wing Fat Market

719 Webster St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 835-2318

I’m including this smaller, Asian market just for the sake of completeness. Kasma comes here mainly to look for nino (” baby”) bananas (Thais call them “egg bananas”) if she can’t find them at the right stage of ripeness for cooking that she needs at other stores. This store seems to always have bunches of these bananas hanging from wire hooks at the front.


Orient Market

Orient Market

Orient Market

410 7th Street
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 444-1220

Orient Market closed some time in 2013.

This is a large and complete Chinese supermarket, but carries little in the way of Southeast Asian ingredients. Kasma comes here once in a while to stock up on peanut oil. The only peanut oil that she has found that she likes is Lion and Globe, which is hard to find in the large 5-liter containers. She can usually find this size here. The store also carries frozen seafood, including shrimp and squid – worth a look if Kasma can’t find the size she wants at the other markets. When in the store, Kasma usually checks to see if they have any packaged dried rice squares which she uses for a couple of the appetizers she teaches. One advantage to this market is that they have an underground parking lot (to the right, in the picture); to get into the lot you’ll need to drive up 7th Street coming from Broadway (7th is a one-way street) and turn into the underground lot on your left. Be sure to get the ticket validated with your purchase.


Best Taste Restaurant

Best Taste Restaurant

Best Taste Restaurant

814 Franklin St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 444-4983

Kasma stops here to get char siu – Chinese barbecued red pork. Their roast duck and crispy-skin roast pork are also quite good. A good place for a quick, inexpensive lunch.


Old Oakland Farmer's Market

Old Oakland Farmer’s Market

Old Oakland Farmer’s Market

Ninth St. between Broadway & Clay
Oakland, CA
Fridays, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

On Friday mornings, the Old Oakland Farmer’s Market is a great place to get Asian produce. There’s a large number of Asian vendors, many of them immigrant Southeast Asian farmers including Hmong and other hilltribes. The produce is very fresh and the prices are among the best you’ll find. It pays to get to the market as early as you can as store owners often come early in search of hard-to-find produce for their stores, such as pea eggplants, Thai eggplants, holy basil, lemon basil and chayote greens. Many stalls are ready to sell even before 8:00 a.m., the official opening time. In addition to produce, we come here for very fresh duck eggs; our Filipino mailman swears by the balut we get here. There are also stalls selling ready-made food and a few tables set up for people to eat. See our earlier blog Old Oakland Farmer’s Market.


Oakland Chinatown’s Seafood Markets

Asian seafood markets are very different from what you find in regular supermarkets. Most of the fish is displayed whole, with the head, tail and fins still on; you can have them cleaned to your liking after you’ve made your selection. The best way to tell how fresh a fish is is when it’s still whole and not yet scaled and gutted. (See Kasma’s article Selecting a Fresh Fish.) Kasma prefers to shop for fish in Chinatown because there are three stores within close proximity that have a good selection of fresh whole fish; it is not uncommon for her to walk to all three stores to make sure she gets the freshest possible seafood. All three markets display the whole fish on ice and also have tanks with live fish and other seafood, such as crabs, lobsters, shrimp and clams. (See also Whole Fish Dishes.)

New Sang Chong Market

New Sang Chong Market

New Sang Chong Market

377 8th St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 451-2018

New Sang Chong Market is where Kasma usually looks for fresh fish first. Although the selection is not as large as Lucky Fish Market (across the street), the fish tends to be fresher. In addition they sell what in Thai would be called gai bahn, literally “house chicken.” These free-range chickens are a much smaller variety than that found in traditional American supermarkets and have a much better flavor. When Kasma was perfecting her Thai Southern Fried Chicken Recipe, she was able to get the result she wanted only from this smaller variety of chicken. The chickens are sold with head and feet on. The market also has a butcher, a good selection of frozen seafood, and fresh produce.


Lucky Seafood Market

Lucky Seafood Market

Lucky Seafood Market #2

376 8th St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 663-8638

No longer called Lucky, still a fish market.

This is the largest of the three fishmongers on this block. There’s also a Lucky Seafood Market on International Boulevard, the other good locale for markets with Asian ingredients in Oakland – a blog to follow soon.


Yet Sun Market

Yet Sun Market

Yet Sung Market

397 8th St.
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 451-3338

Yet Sung Market is the third market with fresh seafood and also the smaller variety of free-range whole chicken with head and feet still on. They also have very fresh produce, well worth a look here.


Oakland Chinatown Bonus Restaurant

Gum Kuo Restaurant

Gum Kuo Restaurant

Gum Kuo Restaurant

388 9th St # 182
Oakland, CA 94607-4292
(510) 268-1288

I’ll include this restaurant because it’s a great place to get jook (or johk) – congee (rice porridge). On the Fridays that we come to the Old Oakland Farmer’s Market we usually come here for congee or for the roast pork or roast duck, both of which you can see hanging enticingly in the window. I often get a plate of the pork and Kasma usually gets congee with pork liver, preserved egg and fish. This restaurant is worth a blog of its own sometime soon.


Further reading:

Written by Michael Babcock, August 2011, updated May 2017

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5 Responses to “Asian Markets – Oakland’s Chinatown”

  1. Louise says:

    Orient Market on 7th is closed.

    There’s a grocery called Won Kee, entrance is through a parking lot on 8th between Alice and Jackson. They have a fish counter and a butcher counter, and have had pork belly with skin every time I’ve been there.

  2. […] Farmer’s Market, with its many Asian vendors, and to some of Kasma’s favorite markets in Oakland’s Chinatown. This is a chance for students to learn how to negotiate Asian markets and to learn about some of […]

  3. Dawn says:

    Excellent guide, thank you. Last Saturday I made the mistake of just popping into Chinatown for a thing or two. With a half-hour on the meter, I attempted to acquire fresh noodles and a wok ring.

    It’s amazing how nearly identical all of the stores look. Even when they’re side-by-side, they have nearly identical inventories and layouts (and the same grandmother moving at a snail’s pace right in front of me). Now I see my mistake – I should have headed up to Webster rather than focusing around Franklin.

    I got the wok rings, but not the noodles. But I also didn’t get a ticket, so I count it a conditional victory.

  4. Jeremy S says:

    Very interesting; I will have to take a tour of some of these some time when I am in Oakland. Across the bay in San Francisco, I can safely say I have visited all of the major asian markets in Chinatown, and their selection of many SE asian items seemed to me to be rather basic. I could not find items like frozen Krachai, Sataw beans, Kaffir lime leaves, holy basil, and other things I can find elsewhere in SF.

    Right now I swear by two markets in SF: New May Wah, out at 7th and Clement, and Pacific Supermarket out on Alamany which really has a gigantic selection. They now even carry frozen Santol fruit, which I have only seen at one other place.

    Anyway, I will definitely have to check out these supermarkets in Oakland!

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