Street Food En Masse

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The Bay Area’s first Eat Real Festival happened this past weekend in Oakland’s Jack London Square. An estimated 30,000 foodies from all over the Bay Area came to enjoy live music, support local farmers and food purveyors, and sample food from over 50 different street food vendors. I couldn’t wait!

Jen and I arrived at around 10:30 am, which was about 30 minutes before showtime, so we could avoid what would be the inevitable long lines later in the day. We came on the last day of the event to avoid the heat from the past two days and avoid the mistakes of others who had ventured there before us. It was nice being there that early. The area had a distinct energy but it was quiet with just the right trickle of people milling about. Vendors were smiling, friendly, and getting their food and selling areas ready for the day’s crowds.

Although there were some other vendors I didn’t get to try, simply because there just isn’t that much room in this tummy, I did try the following vendors:

Urban Nectar (Lemonade & Strawberry fresh juices)

Adobo Hobo (Chicken Wings Over Rice)

Seoul on Wheels BBQ (Spicy Korean BBQ Pork Tacos)

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SLRP Street Ramen (Pork Broth Ramen w/Sweet corn & Homemade Kimchee)

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Liba Falafel Truck (Falafel ball w/Roasted Eggplant)

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Kika’s Treats (Chocolate Covered Graham Cracker S’mores)

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Gerard’s Paella (Seafood & Chicken)

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Creme Brulee Man (Vanilla Bean & Lavender Flavors)

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Unfortunately, I was severely disappointed with Liba’s Falafels. The accompanying roasted eggplant mixture was delightful, but the falafel balls themselves, were so overfried that their outer shells had been become dark brown and were more hard and crunchy than thin and crisp. And the accompanying flatbread was stale, doughy, and flavorless.

The three dishes that had notable elements were Seoul on Wheel’s Spicy Pork Taco (warmed tortillas that didn’t taste store-bought would’ve GREATLY helped), SLRP’s Pork Ramen (the noodles were soggy and flavorless, but the pork belly and homemade kimchee were delicious), and Gerard’s Paella (fresher shrimp and non-burnt ends would’ve made it great).

The one thing that DID live up to the cult following was the Creme Brulee Man’s vanilla bean dessert. It had the perfect crunch from the torched top and the flavor was rich and creamy like an ice cream and smooth and luxurious like a pudding. Pure heaven.

I wish I could’ve tried Roli Roti’s porchetta sandwich, Gobba Gobba Hey’s sweet treats, Jim n Nick’s BBQ (they drove all the way up from the South), roasted pig from Chop Bar, 4505 Meats, Wholesome Bakery’s doughnut bites, and Pizza Politana’s margherita pizza slices.

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I have to admit that nothing I had blew me away. It was all good, but nothing was extremely noteworthy. Amazingly, though, I wasn’t disappointed. I was just happy to be there and share in the positive energy of the day from both purveyors and consumers.  I enjoyed the company, the weather, the variety of food, the environment overall. And I can’t wait to try more next year…

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