Yesterday morning driving home from downtown Oakland I decided it was time for another chow-cruise down International Blvd. (aka E. 14th St.). In particular, I paid attention to the area between "New Saigon" and the the Mexican heart of Fruitvale -- a stretch of a few blocks that contains, not surprisingly, a mix of Asian and Latino businesses.
A couple of bakeries warranted a stop. The first, Miramontes Panaderia (and market, and restaurant next store), turned out to have a large and appealing selection. I think this may be one of the better panaderias in Oakland, with the caveat that Mexican baked goods are based on a somewhat different aesthetic from their Western European counterparts. IMHO, puff pastry should not be made with lard!
The pineapple filled bun was tender and not too sweet. The raised donut with sugar sprinkled on it was tasty, although the eggy yellow dough was not as light as the traditional American style. My favorite was a cheese roll which fooled me by looking a little like a cheese danish -- a long flattened roll with slashes across the top revealing a soft cheese filling. When I bit into it I was startled to realize that it was actually not sweet, and in fact had chopped green chiles mixed into the ricotta-like queso. After I readjusted my tastebuds, it was quite delicious. I don't remember the individual prices, but the four items (the donut, two pastries and the cheese roll) came to less than $3.
Farther down the street a sign for Buiphong bakery caught my eye. It is here that they bake much of the Vietnamese-style French breads used in banh mi shops and sold in stores in New Saigon. They are open to the public though, and on Saturday morning the ovens were producing racks and racks of fresh rolls, baguettes and croissants. I bought a croissant not expecting it to be very good. Although it was by no means a proper buttery, flakey French croissant, it was a decent croissant-inspired roll, and a bargain at 65 cents. For people who are looking for these Vietnamese-style breads, you can't get them much fresher than this.
1527 International Blvd.
2800 International Ave.