We chow down at Chairman Baos @ the Eat Real Festival, Oakland

by foodhoe on August 28, 2010

Everyone is talking about the Eat Real Festival which is going on this weekend in Oakland. Eat Real’s mission is to make real food as accessible and as affordable as fast food.  It’s a gathering of the Bay Area’s best street food vendors cooking up a wide range of delectables: tacos presented in a variety of ways (Chinese, Korean, Mexican, Filipino), BBQ, flat-bread, noodles, curry, falafel, ice cream and more!   There are demonstrations, a literary review, live music, endless opportunities for people watching and best of all there’s no entrance fee… it’s free! And all of the glorious food is $5 or less.  It’s going on through Sunday, and Mr. K and I ventured over to check it out last night even though it was cold and foggy and only part of the full list of vendors were serving up food.  There was some really good food and we want to go back before it ends Sunday.

I really must insist that you stand in the long line for the buns at Chairman Bao. Really, I’m serious!  We loved the buns so much that we got back in the absurdly long line for round two.   The live music performed by Ethiopian Dance Factory Sun Hop Fat seemed like the perfect music to wait in line by…

The line moves along and if you have dining partners, there is ample opportunity for on to pickup interesting products from the other booths to enjoy and pass the time.  We even got friendly with our neighbors who shared treats with us like this delicious Creme Brulee from Sweet in a jar. The chocolate was amazing…

Here is the highly anticipated plate of buns, two chickens and two porks.

This is the Tender Pork Belly with pickled radish ($3.50), my newest obsession… The fatty parts were creamy and melted in my mouth, and the meaty parts were tender and delectable.  The succulent meat was infused with fragrant five spices and the crunchy slices of pickled radish and grilled onion are an invigorating accompaniment.

The Red Sesame Chicken with Scallion and Bok Choy was pungently spicy, the chilis made my lips burn deliciously.  It was messy and finger licking good.  The chicken and the pork are a good combination, they contrast each other beautifully.

The food trucks and booths sprawled along interspersed with drinking stations serving kombucha, coffee, artisanal juices, but we just kept going back to Reinhold’s Last Saloon which was serving beers in large plastic cups (versus the environmentally friendly but tiny glass mason jars…)  We were compelled by the smells coming from Venga Paella towards the end.

There were so many other things to tempt us, but the gigantic vats of paella were mesmerizing and I hadn’t had paella in quite some time.

We shared a Seafood Paella ($5), which had snapper, prawns, calamari and spicy chorizo sausage.  It was flavorful and delicious, we gobbled it up before it got cold.

Even though it was cold and windy, this particular ice cream vendor called Smitten, had quite a long line.

The science project aspect of the liquid nitrogen based freezing contraption caught my attention first, the clouds swirling from the bowl added dramatic effect.

But the ice cream, which is made before your very eyes, was sublime… the texture was incredibly creamy and rich. Yes, we were absolutely smitten with this modern interpretation of creamery ice cream!

It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to sample the cuisine of the many mobile food carts in the Bay Area.  And it’s all fresh, local, handmade and rather affordable.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosa August 28, 2010 at 7:24 pm

OMG, the food looks great! What a fantastic event.




grace August 29, 2010 at 5:05 am

so this event was akin to heaven on earth, clearly. great pictures!


Gastronomer August 31, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Three cheers for Oak-town!! The Bay’s food truck scene is lookin’ sharp, especially the baos. Daaammmn!


Jun Belen September 2, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Oh my lord, you are teasing me with your photos and stores from Eat Real. There are just so many things out there now. We’ve heard of Venga paella and haven’t had the chance to try them out. They’re in OTG so maybe we’ll swing by on Friday. And of couse, who doesn’t like the Chairman! Thanks for the roundup.


Edmund Mokhtarian September 14, 2010 at 10:46 pm

That all looks amazing. I’d never have thought that you could find paella, of all things, at a fair for $5, and that Red Sesame Chicken looked deliciously messy. Where I go it’s all just cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and candy.

Thanks for the info. I’m going to have to check it out sometime.


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