Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Guide to Exploring Oakland's Chinatown

Green tea waffles, Photo by  Dr._Colleen_Morgan, via Flickr

If you haven’t visited downtown Oakland’s Chinatown district, you have no idea what you’re missing. Boost the dial on your fun meter and check out some of these diverse attractions.

Get There:

The northern boundary of Oakland’s Chinatown is located right on 12th Street, so it’s within walking distance of BART’s 12th Street Station.

Dim Sum: 

Grab a bunch of friends (there's plenty of room) and have a dim sum feast at Legendary Palace. Built in 1917, the restaurant is actually a huge historic landmark , and you can't miss the neon lights. Serving up their own unique fusion of French, Japanese, American and Chinese (according to their website, anyway), there's also a live aquarium so you can look your meal in the eyes before your devour it. 

Tour:

Discover the best Chinatown has to offer with a culinary excursion hosted by Savor Oakland Food Tours. During the 3-hour narrated Chinatown Tasting & Walking Tour, a food guide will take you for samplings at top locations on the food scene that includes Chinese, Vietnamese, and Cambodian eateries. You’ll also visit some of Oakland’s historical landmarks and specialty shops while learning about local traditions between samplings, which makes for a well-rounded experience.

Non-Chinese Food: 

You'd never guess it from Kamdesh Afghan Kabab House's unassuming corner facade, but this place is delish. Located just a tiny bit outside Chinatown (although Yelp would disagree), the portions are big, the spices are blended perfectly, and the yogurt sauce is cool and tangy. Order whatever you want, and you're sure to leave satisfied. 

Karaoke: 

Fillmore Karaoke is known for its quality service with hard-to-beat prices, especially during Happy Hour from 3-9pm when everything is 50 percent off. Guests are also welcome to bring their own snacks instead of being forced to purchase goods at the location. If you’re down to belt out your favorite old-school tunes in a seedy basement-like setting with character, this place is right on the money.

ChaTime has an impressive selection of songs to choose from, great food and drink options, and spacious upbeat ambience. Each private room is soundproof with comfy sofas and adjustable lighting. Expect to see mostly teens, college students, and young adults. Come before 8pm and get chill time for half off the original price.

Sweets:

Wonder Food Bakery is filled to the brim with delicious pastries, from traditional Chinese baos to full-on wedding cakes. It's cash only, but you'll walk away with your pockets loaded with treats for only a couple dollars. And don't be alarmed by the pigeons inside the store – everything is still delicious.