Sometimes, it’s best not to be too picky if you want the price of your food to also be dirt-cheap. My family and I went to visit my grandma, who lives close to Oakland, so we all went grocery shopping in Oakland’s Chinatown. Oakland’s Chinatown is the ultimate source of Chinese-specific ingredients. Of course, San Francisco Chinatown can’t be beat either, but Oakland is closer to us.
We spent a good couple hours shopping – picking vegetables, sorting through giant cardboard tubs of oranges, and looking into several stores to find the best roasted pigs feet. We were so engrossed in shopping that we completely forgot to eat lunch! By the time we had finished, it was 4:30 P.M., a perfect time for an early dinner. Ravished, we decided to go for something cheap yet filling.
My family has frequented 8th Street Café in Oakland and its San Francisco location ABC Café many times, going as far back as when I was in elementary school. In high school, my sister used to take classes in San Francisco because some classes weren’t offered at the public school we attended. She would take AP Physics every Monday right after school, but her class wouldn’t end until 8 P.M. Sometimes my mother would pack dinner, but on days when my sister’s schedule was too tight – it’s about an hour drive from where I live to San Francisco – my mother would buy something from ABC Café.
I can’t say that 8th Street Café has any mind-blowing food. It’s more about quantity at this restaurant, but the food isn’t anything gross or dirty. From 3-6 P.M. and 9 P.M.-12 A.M., the store offers a discount menu, which we usually order from. Some dishes cost $3.50, a pretty good price for the amount they give you. All portions are certainly sufficient for one person.
I usually order a noodle soup. Their won ton noodle soup is pretty decent, but today I decided to try their octopus ball ho fun noodle soup, as it’s one of the few noodle soups I haven’t tried yet. Ho fun, or rice stick, is flat, white, and long compared to the regular egg noodles. It’s the same type of noodles you see in chow fun. There were plenty of noodles, but the octopus balls tasted a bit too fishy.
My grandmother and mother ordered the beef noodle soup, which comes with beef tendon. The beef is quite soft, and you’d be surprised how much they give you despite the fact the dish costs $3.50. The soup isn’t anything special, but I wouldn’t recommend drinking too much as 8th Street Café probably uses MSG. Having eaten this dish multiple times, I also find that the restaurant tends to give more ho fun than noodle.
My dad ordered the beef fried rice. Translated literally, the dish is actually called beef wok-style fried rice. The wok-style fried rice may be drier than most may be accustomed, but my dad actually prefers his fried rice this way, so no complaints there. It was a dish with a familiar taste that didn’t particularly scream “innovation” or “gourmet,” but it was filling.
Again, 8th Street Café is no gourmet joint, but at least it doesn’t claim to be. All menus have English translations, but also prepare yourself to use hand gestures if you’re asking for details in English because the waitresses speak only Cantonese and basic Mandarin. If you’re not picky or just short on cash, it’s a great place to grab a quick bite or get take-out.
8th Street Café
337 8th St
Oakland, CA 94607