Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Why I Love Oakland

On yesterday’s downtown walk, I discovered one short block—Tenth Street between Clay and Washington—that has three restaurants on it. One is Chinese, one is Thai, and the other is Vietnamese. I know I’ve been on this block before because I remember going to the Vietnamese restaurant, Le Cheval. It’s very good. I never noticed the other two restaurants, though. They may be new. I will certainly try the Chinese one very soon, because in addition to being yet another place where you can get bubble tea, it also has my favorite Chinese treat of all: Shanghai dumplings. I must have written about these before, but I feel I can’t work hard enough to get the word out. They’re little steamed dumplings filled with shrimp and pork. What makes them special is partly the sauce, a tangy, gingery soy sauce and vinegar mix. It’s also the fact that the dumplings somehow are steamed with a thick, rich broth inside. I don’t know how they do that. Ancient Chinese secret, I guess.

But to get back to what made me remember how much I love Oakland, it goes beyond the fact that in this city you can find three different types of Asian food on the same side of one short street.

What really did it for me is the fact that while I was standing in front of the Chinese restaurant reading the menu, I could hear, coming from somewhere (I never did discover where) the sound of bagpipes. That kind of thing, cultural diversity raised to a surreal art form, just made me fall in love with Oakland all over again.

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