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Old Place Seafood Teahouse in Oakland?

  • m

Yesterday was an East Bay day. Driving along Grand Ave. near Lake Merritt, I noticed a restaurant called Old Place Seafood Teahouse that offers dim sum.

How do 'hounds like it?

Old Place Seafood Teahouse
(510) 286-9888
391 Grand Ave
Oakland, CA 94610

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  1. I visited a few times when they first opened a few years ago... At the time, they were serving lovely fragrant tea (I think Jasmine), much better than Chinatown restaurants. Aside from that one point in their favor, there is nothing much to say except their prices were higher than Chinatown. Also, their dinner dishes were kind of small. I also tried their dim sum, and at the time it was comparable to Chinatown, except they didn't have many items.

    But I haven't been in a few years.

    4 Replies
    1. re: SU

      Hello, we occasionally dine there, not for dim sum, 'cause it's a short walk instead of the drive to C-town or Alameda. I think its price point is higher than the bargain c-town estabs like Shanghai, but about the same as the next step up, like Chef Lao's. At that level, you're right, the portions are a little smaller, but that isn't a deal breaker for just the two of us.

      The food is straightforward and competent without much flair,sauces not heavy and veg's lightly cooked, and we've enjoyed the seaweed, seafood,and doufu soup and some of the XO entrees. When I walk by Sat. midddays to the farmer's market, it's doing a bustling dim sum trade to mostly Asian families.

      That section of Grand Ave. has plenty of neighborhood eats including a Korean place that looks promising and a recently started Ethiopian, both of which I hope to try. cheers

      1. re: moto

        Good to know -- I've been by there often but their menu in the window says little about the dim sum items.

        The Korean place is Jong Ga, quite good, if not great in terms of service. Mushrooms are their specialty. The mushroom bi bim bop was quite tasty last time I was there, and several of the soups smelled good as they passed by.

        I've heard nothing about Esmarra (the Ethiopian place). Even with the grand opening sign, it does not look open, and I haven't seen it open around lunchtime (my usual dining out time).

        1. re: merle

          Hey merle, glad to see you here! If you don't mind, could you start a new thread about Jong Ga? Sounds like you have some good information, and I hate to see it get lost under this subject heading.

          1. re: merle

            FYI, the Ethiopian place is actually "Ensarro". It's quite good, and it generally doesn't look open even when it is (I do realize that your comment is from some months ago).

      2. Thanks, sounds like it offers fair enough value to be worth checking out when it's convenient.

        1. I am virtually a neighbor of this place and find it quite endearing, especially for the reasonably priced Dim Sum! A vast improvement over the Chinese restaurant that was in the place before. The staff works quickly and hard, and consistently greet me on a first name basis. A little more variety on the Dim Sum carts would be welcome, but that is a fairly universal issue, no?

          1. I go there fairly often, since it's relatively close to my home. I think the food is quite tasty, especially considering the price (it's difficult to spend more than $8 per person!). My favorites are the turnip cake, stuffed mushrooms, just about anything with shrimp in it, and sesame balls. They do a nice plate of greens too. The service is generally good (they refill your water glass frequently, and are by and large friendly) though when I went during a particularly busy time last week, things were a little more "off" (one young waiter had no idea what I was talking about when I asked for turnip cake!) But overall, I really like them and am thrilled to have them in the neighborhood.

            1. As far as I'm concerned, it's kind of...eh.

              I've gone there since before they rearranged the letters in the sign (it used to be called Golden Palace), but to me it's always been that kind of place you go to because it's walking distance from your house, not because it's particularly good. Before and after the name change.

              1. Work near here and my co-workers and I eat here now and then. We all like it very much. Good dim-sum and lots of variety.

                1. Link:

                  Old Place Seafood
                  391 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA

                  1. Finally got around to trying this place. Standouts were pan-fried rice roll noodle in XO sauce (best version I've had), taro dumplings (second only to Yank Sing), and shrimp and chive dumplings sort of like oversized potstickers (I think their invention). We ordered long bean, really good spicy dry-fried preparation though too salty to eat with dim sum. Turnip cake, pork siu mai, small baked pork bao, and regular chive dumplings were all fine. Might be forgetting an item or two. Bill came to $27 before tip, more food than we really needed. Friendly service.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Thanks for the update. Panfried shrimp & Chinese chive dumplings aren't a rarity, think you can buy them frozen at Asian supermarkets to serve at home.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        These were huge, like three or four times the size of a potsticker.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Double, yes. 4 x size of potsticker, I've not seen.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            My mom used to make versions as big as a pastie or large empanada; these are also sold frozen in the Asian supermarkets. Sometimes filled with chive and shrimp, sometimes just chive and egg. She called them jiu tsai he zi (beware half-a..ed ignorant romanization). "He zi" instead of "jiao zi," for dumpling, but I don't know what "he zi" means in this context, beyond the larger size.

                            Regarding "Old Place," Shanghainese colleagues of mine like this place ok, though I think they get dinner there more often. I went once for dim sum years ago, but don't recall it- I still go to Joy Luck and lately, Happy Valley.

                            1. re: twocents

                              Tried "The Old Place" for dim sum and thought it was pretty good. GF liked it a lot, slightly preferring it to Happy Valley. I prefer Happy Valley. The major downside here is that the turnover isn't high enough to support the cart-based service optimally; much of the food has cooled down quite a bit before service. Happy Valley is checklist based and everything comes straight from the kitchen. Six dishes including the XO rice noodle roll was about $19.50 w/tax before tip. Similar order at Happy Valley would be about $15-16, and Joy Luck about $12-13.

                              Everything tastes good and fresh, albeit some had cooled down a bit. Things are a bit lower on salty seasoning than most places- I used soy sauce on the plate for the first time in ages.

                              Joy Luck
                              327 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

                              Happy Valley Restaurant
                              400 E 12th St, Oakland, CA

                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                        This place was a lot better than I expected - I guess I've always had my doubts since it seems so empty during the week (and even if there are people eating inside, the big curtain makes it hard for you to see).

                        Solid versions of all the standard items - shrimp rice roll, ha gow, siu mai, turnip cake, chive dumpling, steamed pork bun, etc. Maybe on average not quite as good as East Ocean in Alameda, but it's not a huge differential. And the siu mai and ha gow were both much better than the ones at L&L, which is the other East Bay dim sum place we frequented regularly (before the fire).

                        I appreciated that the ladies came over several times and asked if there was anything else we wanted, and they'd have the cooks make a batch to order if there weren't any going around on the carts at the moment.

                        Good value and, for us, a really convenient location. We'll be back.

                      3. Looks like Old Place is closed! My wife just saw an eviction notice posted on the door. Bummer - it wasn't the best Chinese food, but it was cheap and better than decent and so conveniently located (for me).

                        Wonder if they'll reemerge elsewhere.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: abstractpoet

                          doubtful. if they couldn't pay the rent here, where/how will they find funds to buiild and rent a new location?
                          fwiw, this is at least the 2nd chinese eatery that failed here....

                          1. re: shanghaikid

                            Well, it isn't surprising that they went out of business -- the only real customers they got were for dim sum, and their prices were so low that there couldn't have been much profit there. The couple times we went to pick up takeout for dinner, the place was a ghost town.

                            Thing is, I bet they could have done much better if they just fixed the place up (or at least pulled the curtains open!) -- though, to me, the overall shabbiness was part of the charm. And I love the name "Old Place" (Lao Di Fang).

                            Maybe the chef will at least turn up somewhere else. He had chops...more so than you'd expect from a place like that.

                            1. re: abstractpoet

                              Speaking of places closing ...The Silver Dragon is closing after 55 years. The owners apparently let the City have the building for an Asian Health Services facility. Does anyone know if they are retiring, or planning to pop up somewhere else?


                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                silver dragon has a concession at gate 9 in the oakland airport.

                                beyond this, i would expect retirement. restarurant biz is terrible these days.

                                heartell silver dragon doesn't get the big banquets anymore

                                it's curious that the current asian health services building used to house, "the lantern, chinatown's biggest dim and banquet house in it's prime."