Cambodian Street Food: On an Avenue in East Oakland
On 21st Avenue and Foothill Boulevard in East Oakland, you will find Cambodian Street Food. At this family run small kitchen, the community at large can pick up delicious, culturally diverse Cambodian or Khmer food at an affordable price.
I visited Cambodian Street Food twice last week for lunch, each time with a different friend. Instead of taking our food “togo”, both times we ate at the one sole portable table that is set up outside on the sidewalk next to the business.
The chicken and beef sticks appeared to be one of the popular items. At 3 sticks for $5, it is an excellent value. These meat sticks were grilled perfectly and had an abundance of flavor. It was a toss up on whether the beef or chicken was better, as I enjoyed the beef slightly more and my friend voted for the chicken. You can always get both as we did, so you don’t need to make a difficult decision.
The dry fried ribs are large chunks of salt and pepper pork ribs deep fried to a golden crisp, topped with sautéed jalapeños and garlic sauce. They’re finger licking good. A large Chinese take out box is $8.50.
Mama egg rolls are 80 cents a piece so we tried them as well. The egg rolls are made with chicken, cabbage, and vermicelli noodles and came with a pack of sweet and sour sauce. They were fresh and piping hot, but in terms of flavor fell a bit flat compared to everything else.
I felt the need to order the fried rice or chow mein, so I could understand the Chinese influence on Cambodia. I went with the chow mein and was pleasantly surprised by the execution of their wok cooking. The thick egg noodles were just right in terms of chewiness and the beef slices were tender and delicious. A large order of beef chow mein is $9.50, chicken chow mein is only $7.50.
Their papaya salad is served with rice noodles, fresh mint, and raw cabbage and a cross between the Thai and Laotian versions. It encompasses the perfect amount of funk which I enjoyed. For such a labor intensive dish, the price of $6.95 is a steal.
I ordered the chicken cha kreung dish so I could try something new. The chicken is stir fried with lemongrass, onions, peppers, and basil packing an explosion of flavor. This dish comes with rice and is $10.
The celebrity of the Cambodian Street Food menu for me is the banh xeo. This savory crepe is a very popular Vietnamese dish as well and gets its bright yellow color from turmeric. The thin crispy pancake is filled with ground chicken and beansprouts. You eat it with fresh Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, mint, and peanuts. When doused with their homemade fish sauce, it is perfection. Three banh xeo is $10.
The food at Cambodian Street Food is made to order so as I waited for my food, I had the opportunity to observe the customers. I watched an elderly black man walk over from the neighborhood to pick up his fried rice and meat sticks. Most people seemed to have driven outside the neighborhood to pick up food. It was clear Cambodian Street Food is attracting diverse fans to seek out Khmer food in Oakland. The food and the family behind Cambodian Street Food will bring me back for more.