Best Southeast Asian Cuisine

Champa Garden

Champa Garden is the best neighborhood restaurant in this pocket of East Oakland, just on the other side of Lake Merritt. Its existence amidst apartments and across from a corner store doesn't make it any less popular. In what used to be a doughnut shop, this spot will fill you up with the best of Southeast Asian cuisine at affordable prices (appetizers in the $6 range, seafood dishes in the $10 range). Their menu is mostly Lao and Thai with some Vietnamese, Mien, and Lue (an ethnic minority in Southeast Asia) thrown in. They feature many dishes hard to find elsewhere. The fried rice ball salad is not to be missed — fried balls of rice and coconut mixed with preserved pork, peanuts, herbs, and lime juice that you wrap in greens. The restaurant's fine selection of crisp Navarro Vineyards whites serves as an unexpected complement to the delicate and spicy cuisine. The restaurant has seen a surge in popularity after its renovation and publicity in local media, but you'll still find tables of families from the neighborhood patronizing this joint. The family-owned restaurant is cozy, with enthusiastic young servers. Service can be spotty, but the unique dishes and welcoming feel keep people coming back.
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