Oakland Public Library Asian Branch (388 9th St., Suite 190, Oakland). A good place to check out martial arts serial novellas -- quasi-historical epics available in Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean that form the basis for many of today's popular kung fu flicks. Quentin Tarantino, eat your heart out. Here are your next twelve movies.
New Sang Chong Market (377 8th St., Oakland). You get a lot of seafood from Vietnam like eels and prawns. This is one of the few places you can buy razor clams from Oregon or Washington. The perch are incredible, line-and-hook-caught from the coast here by independent fishers.
Vien Huong Restaurant (712 Franklin St., Oakland). It's a bottomless bowl of noodle soup, and it's Chinese-Vietnamese. They take a traditional Chinese dish and they add a lot more ingredients -- shrimp balls, ground pork, fish cake, and condiments like steamed bean sprouts. The name means `far away from home. '
East Bay Asian Local Development Corp. (310 8th St., Suite 200, Oakland). Nonprofit builder of affordable housing. If you talk about unsung heroes, they're a story. It was founded by a handful of architecture students in the '70s, a bunch of progressives who wanted to renovate a rundown storefront. Now it's probably one of the best-known affordable housing developers in the nation and it just happens to be founded by Asian Americans -- but most of its tenants are Latino and black.
Inn Kensington (293 Arlington Ave., Kensington). Specializing in American-style breakfasts, but owned by a Vietnamese chef who worked his way up from the position of dishwasher. He is the fastest chef in town -- he can do your breakfast in under sixty seconds. He does incredibly inventive dishes like sautéed salmon and shrimp and artichoke hearts. It's very California, very fresh.