Cam Huong Restaurant—Oakland
Zippy, cheap Vietnamese sandwiches draw in deal-seeking foodies
While driving to Oakland’s Chinatown might not be the first thing on your list, once you taste a Vietnamese sandwich, or banh mi, at Cam Huong, you’ll be willing to crawl there on your hands and knees. Marinated barbecued chicken, shredded carrot, daikon, and white onion, plus a healthy helping of fresh cilantro and jalapeños constitute the best thing to come on a French roll since sandwiches were invented. And we’re talking turbo-cheap, as in $3. Try the grilled beef version ($2.75), which does the most justice to those shavings of fresh onion, wilting them slightly and just barely sweetening their oniony zip.
Cam Huong will not win any awards for decor. In fact, takeout beats sitting amid boxes of produce stuffed into the train car–shaped storefront.
And speaking of takeout, this is a phenomenal place to pick up a cheap, fresh, no-cook, ultradelicious dinner. Just $10 will get you dinner for three. The rice noodle plates with barbecued chicken or prawns include fresh shredded veggies and a sweet rice vinegar sauce. When you get home, put the meat and noodles in a bowl, and nuke if you like; throw in the veggies and some sauce. One taste, and you will be in the land of Vietnamese delicacies—and you’ll be sitting on your couch with your feet up.
Fire Danger: Compare the jalapeños in your banh mi to the skin on the roof of your mouth. Calculate how not to sacrifice one for the other.
Fast Food: The line that often snakes out the door moves pretty quickly. Practice speaking Vietnamese while you wait.
Drive by: Coming from the east, exit 980 at 18th Street. Turn left on 14th Street, and then take a right on Webster.Cam Huong Restaurant, 920 Webster St. (between Ninth and 10th), Oakland, (510) 444-8800. Open daily until 7 p.m.