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Mar 4, 2009 09:58 AM

Oakland: Oriental Lucky Mart ... like a trip to West Africa and the Caribbean

Oriental Lucky Mart may not as misnamed as it sounds. Although the groceries fulfill the cooking needs of those from West Africa, the Caribbean and South America, the West Indies also has a significant Asian and Indian population. So it is Oriental in terms of those populations from those areas.

To confuse things further, it is Filipino-owned. The owner sadly just died in January 2009 but his family seems to be carrying on.

The woman in charge that day was really nice. I was looking for an Ethiopian spice and they don’t carry it. She directed me to the stores on Telegraph and also mentioned a store near Rockbridge Bart I didn’t know about.

The first thing you noticed walking in is the pungent smell of dried fish. There are more types than I’ve seen anywhere. There was even a big bin in back of large four foot slabs of dried fish. A few types of dried fish include stockfish, crayfish, Ugandan, smoked fish and bacalao.

Every inch of the store is crammed with spices, frozen food, beans, dried peas, grains, fresh produce, hot sauces, cooking oil such as palm oil, dried food, and so many other grocery items. .

There are also more types of rice and flours than I’ve seen in any African market. There is all sorts of cookware such as huge pots and two foot high mortar and pestles.

There is some palm wine (emu) from Nigeria and Ghana.

There are many varieties, cuts and preparations of meat … bags of frozen chicken feet, salted beef, smoked meats, goat meat, etc

Spices spanning all countries are tucked in bins and shelves ... jerk seasoning, magi, the full range of Nigerian spices … ewedu leaves, bitter leaf (ewuro), ground melon seeds (egusi), ogbono, rtc

The freezers are packed with all sort of leaves, wraps, Jamaican patties, veggies, meats … well, lots and lots.

Some produce includes African yams, yucca and plantains. Lots of snacks such as chin chin and fried plantain chips. There was something interesting snack-wise near the register I’m going to have to ask about next time I stop by.

About the only poster who mentions the place is Robert.who often posts …
“They have foods from various countries without enough immigrants here to support a separate store”

Despite that, I was still thinking this was an Asian market with a few African and Carribean items rather than visa versa.

Oriental Lucky Mart
535 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

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  1. Older thread .... my visit to the store in 2006. Thanks for the update, RW.

    1. Definitely a lot of things I've never seen elsewhere. I first heard of the place when a friend served the frozen Jamaican beef patties (turnovers), which are really good.

      There's an Ethiopian store near Rockridge BART?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I didn't ask the name because I had already planned to stop on Telegraph. I figured I could Google it, but nothing is turning up. When I drove home tonight I drove through Rockridge to see if I could spot anything ... nada.

        However, just as I was turning on Ashby, Ihad a dim memory of an African market near Rockridge. It is on one of the side streets. It was dark and I was too far away from Rockridge to go back.

        This was a few years ago so I wonder if it is still there. At the time there was no info about it on Yelp and I THINK I asked about it on Chowhound with no response. There wasn't any nearby parking that day so I didn't stop. I'll probably just ask the name the next time I'm at the Old Oakland farmers market and near Oriental Lucky Mart.

        1. re: rworange

          There's Wally's World Market, which sounds promising. Despite passing by thousands of times I've never been or even looked in so the best I can do is a streetview link:

          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

            My SO insists there's nothing in there but Ajax, cat food and a box of crackers. He went in looking for cookies and failed to find any.