Emma's Cajun Seafood and Chicken
Years ago, when I told a foodie friend that I was moving to Oakland from San Francisco, she told me to make sure that I checked out Emma's Cajun Seafood and Chicken. It took me a bit to find the place, because it's buried deep in West Oakland. Once I discovered the place I was a regular for awhile, trying various fishes as well as the chicken. I eventually stopped going due to a change in diet, though the fact that the wait for food was always so long was certainly a discouraging factor.
Midafternoon today I was driving back to North Oakland from a visit to the Oakland Main Post Office (time to get a new passport for an upcoming trip to London!!), and I decided to see if Emma's was still a good place to eat.
Prices have increased since I was there last, but the place was still spotlessly clean, the menu still short and to the point, and the staff still efficient though sometimes a little cool.
I ordered the fried chicken, full order, spicey, for $10.85. That's five pieces of chicken, and a very large order of fries. Not cheap compared to KFC or Church's, maybe, but reasonable for the quality. They don't start cooking it until the order is placed. (sidenote--lots of people call in their orders to avoid the long wait.)
I found the french fries to be just passable, but the chicken was better than I remembered. I ate a wing right away to see what it was like while it was hot, and loved the lightly spicey and crispy skin, and moist interior.
The rest of the chicken I saved for dinner a few hours later. As I took it out of its bag, I was pleased to discover that there were no grease spots on either the paper bag or the cardboard container it was sitting in. I reheated the chicken in my toaster oven at a very low temp, which was a risk, of course, with the potential of either drying out the meat and/or losing the crispness of the skin. I am very happy to report that neither of those things occurred. Even the white breast meat was still juicy.
I searched old chowhound posts to see if any other folks knew about Emma's, but all I saw was some old questions about it, folks wondering if it was any good.
The answer is YES! Though I didn't have fish today I'm quite confident that the portions will still be generous and delicious, and that the various homemade cakes and pies for dessert will be a great finish to the meal.
Emma's Cajun Fish and Chicken Market
3112 Market Street
Phone: 510 547-2864
Yeah, that was me that mentioned Emma's. I admired your initiative in trying the place out and saving us some bucks and calories, but I always felt bad about mentioning the name.
However, I'm going to throw a little more bait out there and see if someone snaps at it.
Has anyone tried Nellie's Soulfood Dining inside Dorsey's Locker, a club that has jazz, blues, comedy and poetry readings. I suspect Nellie's is open longer hours than Dorsey's because I saw people going in there during the day.
The link to the citysearch review below mentions 'steaming soul food and artfully mixed drinks" in addition to "down-home eats like chitlins, macaroni, and pork chops".
It is located on Shattuck near one of the BBQ places (I forget which), not all that far from Berkeley Bowl.
It is on my list to at least stop by some time when the opportunity comes up. However, if someone else has been ...
Nellie's Soulfood Dining
5817 Shattuck Avenue (inside Dorsey's Locker)
The Nellie's soul food restaurant that used to occupy the restaurant side of Dorsey's Locker moved several months ago to its own new space at 1155 3rd St (off Adeline). IMHO, the food was better at the old location, although it's not bad now, just not really good. I heard that a new restaurant took over the space at Dorsey's, but haven't heard anything positive about it so I haven't actually gone back to try it.
Have you tried House of Soul or the other one in the strip mall by American Canyon (the name escapes me now) where the Popeye's fast food joint is?
Thanks Eric. I poked around the archives a good deal and couldn't find anything except questions going back as far as 2002 or so. Yet here you had risked gastronomic life and limb for the board quite some time ago!
I definitely find the non-spicey battering to be too bland. The spicey could be more so, but does have a tiny little kick to it.
It wasn't until I left the house this morning that I realized my post might have called your taste into question. Sorry, that wasn't intentional. I was just reading through the old post when I responded.
Everybody has different tastes and it is great to get a different perspective on the same place. It sounds liek this place might be worth exploring by Chowhounds to see how it fares in their own taste-ometer. It certainly sounds like it exceeds the chicken in the fast food joints.
You know, that was cool to check the taste just after it was fried. When I was recently staying in the culinary wasteland of Vallejo, I got hooked on Church's chicken. But I was eating it for lunch when it was hot out of the fryer. That was some really nice chicken. Then I had it for dinner one night when it had obviously been sitting under the warming lights too long and it was awful.
Someday when I am not on a fried food restricted diet, I'll give Emma's a try. Now I'm curious.
Off-topic, but I gotta speak up for the town of Vallejo again and not let it be trashed unfairly. It's far from a "culinary wasteland" with great Thai, Mexican, Filipino, barbecue, Chicagoland, Salvadoran, burgers, and soul food and more to be discovered if you have a chowhounding spirit and eyes wide open.
re: Melanie Wong
Fair enough. I was unable to connect to Chowhound during that time. It was my poor choices. I think my good food run now is some sort of cosmic balancing for those few months.
However, while in Vallejo, even some fast food joints I popped into were bad. I RARELY made a good meal choice.
In Vallejo, I am wanting to try out Valerio Tropical Bakery which has an outpost in Daly City as well. It is Filipino baked goods. I don't think they are related however, to Valerio Bakery in San Pablo.
I keep meaning to post about Valerio Bakery. I had a FABOULOUS warm bibingkam a round buttery cake baked in a banana leaf. Pretty much tried all their other great baked goods too.
So yes, Vallejo. I just haven't discovered your delights yet and am unfairly disparaging your chow reputation. Nice waterfront scene though.