I brought avocado and black sesame ice cream from the Sweet Booth to the Chowhound Picnic yesterday, and they were a hit. It's not a new place, but there seems to be no proper post on this fine institution on the board, so here goes:
The Sweet Booth is on the ground floor of Pacific Renaissance Plaza, which is a small mall with a courtyard occupying the block between 8th and 10th and Webster and Franklin in Oakland Chinatown. (Restaurant Peony and the Oakland Public Library Asian Branch are in the same mall).
They have about a half-dozen Asian ice cream flavors, of which the black sesame is superior and the avocado, durian, and mango are excellent (I like the mango better than that of the Bombay Creamery, for instance). There's a very artificial tasting ube, a coconut that's probably fine (but I'm not a coconut fan), an ok taro, and maybe something I've forgotten. There are also a bunch of Dreyer's flavors. Their prices are quite reasonable: $1.95 gets you a heaping scoop which would be a double at many places; a pint is $4.75 and a quart is $8.50.
They also have a long list of smoothies, ices, and tapioca drinks. They're generally good, and the pearl red bean and tapioca paste drink was especially memorable. There's a menu of perhaps a dozen or two Chinese desserts made to order (black fungus, stewed papaya, red bean soup...). They're less fancy than a place like Creations, but also cheaper. My favorite among them is their ginger milk custard ($2.95). It's been outstanding each time I've ordered it, though the intensity of the ginger varies (from strong to burning; I like it both ways, so I haven't experimented with making requests).
The hours are 11-8:30 M-Th, 11-9:30 10-9:30 SaSu. I've came as long as an hour after closing and found the owner cleaning up, and he's always been happy to serve me ice cream. Its atmosphere is pleasant: it's a small, densely packed shop, with a combination of handwritten and slatted letter board menus, with small tables for about six people with plastic chairs bolted on. The courtyard of the mall also has some places to sit, but it's rarely very crowded.
The Sweet Booth
388 9th St # 155, Oakland, 94607