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Dec 3, 2002 06:02 PM

Dim Sum in Berkeley or Albany?

  • m

Is there? Too lazy to drive to Oakland Chinatown. It doesn't have to be a fancy tea house with a big menu, just a reasonable selection of the basics, and takeout is fine. Jin Ling (sp?) in Elmwood just started serving dim sum, but a while ago I bought a steamed bao and it looked/tasted like one of those frozen jobs.
(Also it's weird, but some of the worst Chinese food I've eaten in my life was in Oakland Chinatown. I know there's many good restaurants there too....)

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  1. If you're in Berkeley/Albany, you're pretty close to the 99 Ranch complex in Richmond (bordering El Cerrito). Pacific East Seafood Restaurant does pretty good dim sum, which you order off a check-off menu. And if you're desperate for a quick fix, 99 Ranch's deli department does take-out dim sum. Ranges from mediocre to good but it'll do.

    Pacific East Seafood Restaurant
    3288 Pierce St., Suite A118
    (in the Pacific East Mall)
    Richmond, CA

    1. I have not been for awhile now, but what about East Ocean in Emeryville?

      1. If you're willing to go slightly farther north, you could try Gou Bu Li in a strip mall shopping center at 10684 San Pablo Avenue a bit north of the El Cerrito mall. They do dim sum in the middle of the day on Saturday and Sunday - the food is northern style, with a range of good and unusual cold dim sum as well. (You can also buy a lot of the dishes in frozen form.) This place is sometimes called the "fish lips" restaurant - for years the menu listed fish lips as a choice, but they never actually had it.

        7 Replies
        1. re: mcchowhound

          Is this a branch of the renowned Gou Bu Li from Tianjin?

          1. re: Limster

            I'd be shocked if the El Cerrito Gou Bu Li is a branch of anything - it's a real mom and pop kind of place. I once heard that the name means "Dog Won't Eat" - if that's true, it's a terrific restaurant name!

            1. re: mcchowhound

              May need to check out those El Cerrito sites -- or just go to Oak Chinatown. In the meanwhile, maybe I'll see about Gou Bu Li if it's still off Telegraph. At least there's always Yank Sing during my SF work week. Also, went to Louie's and was a little disappointed. The service IS extremely gracious, esp. for a Chinese restaurant (!) and the space pleasant. I probably made a mistake by ordering the "lemon chicken" which turned out to be some breaded flavorless chicken strips (like McNuggets) with some very sweet, bland sauce on the side. As I recall, it's not really set up for dim sum orders for one, to go. I think there's a hole-in-the-wall dim sum /bakery place near it too.

              1. re: Margot
                Kathleen Mikulis

                Didn't mean to imply that Gou Bu Li is still off Telegraph. Their location in Berkeley closed in 1998 or so.

              2. re: mcchowhound

                Yes, "gou bu li" means "a dog won't touch it." It's the name of a famous large dumpling from Tianjin. (Which suggests that the place's emphasis is on dim sum.)

            2. re: mcchowhound
              Kathleen Mikulis

              I used to like going to their location in one of those alleys in Berkeley between Bancroft and Durant. I haven't tried their dim sum, but I used to like their lunch specials - not great, but sort of comfort food to me after going there for 8 years.

              The service is super friendly. Once the server chased after us after we had already left the restaurant, saying we had tipped too much. (We had left 15%.)

              1. re: mcchowhound

                GouBuLi is our favorite Chinese restaurant - the people are super nice and helpful. I love the garlic fried shrimp and the green beans - yum. My husband's favorite is the Hunan spicy chicken.

              2. Yep, me too - I had the worst meal there at one of the small place. I ordered like 10-12 small dishes. I remembered ordering macaroni soup and it taste like water mixed with boiled macaroni and some salt. It was TERRIBLE. It was cheap for like $1 per dish. It is close to the TIN dimsum house. I forgot the name.

                This area has some places that will disappoint you if you are not careful. I had my worst won-ton noodle and BBQ pork (not cha-siu) plate EVER at Yung Kee.

                Another place, YO-HO which is kind of new was not that great either. I ordered the lobster and other dishes. Most were just OK but nothing worth coming back for.

                And about PEONY, I visitted the place twice and tried out many dishes there. Once for dinner and ordering the touted and pricy shark-fin soup. Again, nothing that really wowed me. Even the dim-sum was not that impressive. I wonder why so many people lined up to get in. I was truly disappointed.

                I also tried a corner restaurant (DJ Cafe ?) accross from TIN tea house. It's just OK but nothing there makes me come back. That place is usually crowded too.

                However, there are MANY restaurants there to be tried and some places although have some bad dishes on their menu might contain some excellent dishes. You just have to be careful in passing these judgements in general.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Han Lukito

                  Most of the restaurants in Oakland Chinatown are not "destination" places but neighborhood joints to grab a quick dinner. Peony may bill itself as a high-end dinner destination but I haven't been impressed and have avoided it like the plague since an experience of extremely rude service there. Interestingly, the places that I would enjoy while a student at Cal were mostly not Chinese restaurants. I've reported favorably about Battambang (Cambodian) and Sushi Zone. I also liked a pho place directly across the street from the Pacific Renaissance Plaza main entrance. There are a few places to pick up pretty good banh mi. As for Chinese, I like Tao Yuen's takeout dimsum and the BBQ place on the 1st floor of the plaza both for BBQ and simple homestyle Cantonese food.

                  Granted, if you travel more than 15-20 minutes to eat at any of the places I've mentioned, then you'll be disappointed at the quality of food. But if you treat them like the neighborhood weeknight standbys that they were for me, then they'll taste pretty darn good. I hope this helps Chowhounds on their quest for the best food in Oakland Chinatown.

                  1. re: Yvonne

                    I had decent dim sums several years ago at Jade Villa. Don't know recently.

                    Also, a Noodle joint (Vien Hong ?) is also pretty decent too. Everybody there ordered the noodle soup and fish cake. They taste pretty good. Cheap and hearty. Although ambiance and service is close to zero. You slurp the soup, enjoy the food and get out.

                    1. re: Han Lukito

                      Went to a wedding banquet at Jade Villa about 10 years ago and it was great -- I still remember the fresh shiitake mushrooms (anyone -- what is this in Cantonese?). And by the way, do you know of any good Indonesian restaurants?

                      1. re: Margot

                        I have not been to Indonesian Restaurant in SF for many months already. I can tell you some of the places and dishes that I already mentioned several times in the past.

                        At Post St in SF, there are two restaurants within 30 feet of each other.

                        Indonesia Restaurant: decent Sayur Asem set meal (Sour vegetable soup with steam rice, spiced chicken, etc). It has rijstaffel but you have to preorder I think

                        Borobudur: might be better choice. The rijstaffel is good and reasonable plus you can order it when you come. Their rice plate is good also.

                        There is one in Geary (used to be JAVA) but have not tried it personally.

                        I have been getting my Indonesian dishes at my church meetings in Concord. They are very traditionally prepared and has all the authentic flavors of home although of course not as flamboyant as in the restaurant but good home made dishes made by excellent cooks. It's free. Of course, my family is a member of the church and we support them financially. Now, if you want to taste these excellent cooking, there will be a big Indonesian Bazaar in San Jose next year where many of these home cooks sell their food for reasonable prices. You get an amazing plethora of dishes from many of these home cooks. I think our church will be participating and that will be something to look for because we have some real good home cooks there. There was a detailed report of the Bazaar held recently here at Chowhound if you do CTRL-F to find it.

                        1. re: Margot

                 (Margot) blurted:

                          > Went to a wedding banquet at Jade Villa about 10 years ago and it was great -- I still
                          > remember the fresh shiitake mushrooms (anyone -- what is this in Cantonese?). And by the
                          > way, do you know of any good Indonesian restaurants?

                          Forget Jade Villa; it's for the NOT-in-the-know. Want good dim-sum in Oakland? Go to Tsingtao on Broadway and 3rd. All the chinese families in there don't lie....

                  2. Here's another vote for the Pacific East Seafood Restaurant in the Pacific East Mall, El Cerrito (just north of Albany Hill off of Buchanan Street, or take the Central Ave. exit from 80 or 580 and turn right immediately after the overpass onto Buchanan).

                    I think it may be owned by the same folks as Hong Kong East Ocean. At any rate, similar menu and feel. We had some very tasty chive dumplings and most of the dim sum was fresh.