HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

Best Dim Sum - East Bay

  • 33
  • Share

Greetings!

I've read past entries but finding a good dim sum place seems to remain a crapshoot...inconsistent at best. I tried Tri Vally blah blah in Pleasanton.....mediocre at best...looking for a restaurant which serves sweet rice pudding cake AKA Bok Tong Go...favorite of my daughter's...we're taking out of town guests for dim sum tomorrow and would appreciate suggestions.
Thanks! and Happy New Year!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Tin's Tea House was my fave in Oakland Chinatown. Great people-- Alice and Mimi are very gracious and friendly. Unfortunately, they hightailed it to Walnut Creek just as I was gathering the courage to ask Mimi to marry me (not really). I'm sure your guests and you will enjoy yourselves there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: essvee

      Thanks for the response, essvee....I did hear both good and not so favorable info on Tin's in Walnut Creek...yes, I, too, frequented their former Oakland habitat.....preferred it to Jade Villa...well, absent a consensus, I may take the plunge and gamble on Tin's...I'll get back to you as to experience....have you been to the Walnut Creek haunt?

    2. i've always been partial to Peony in Oakland Chinatown, in the same plaza as the public library, but up on the second floor. Service is crabby, but dim sum was consistently very good. Haven't been in a while, though...

      2 Replies
      1. re: sfoperalover

        Hi, sfoperalover...thanks for the response....well, it does seem as if there is a consensus as to service at Peony...not so favorable...I'll try it later if not sooner and will fill you in...guess the quality of the food may hold customers hostage in the face of unsavory service...

        1. re: sfoperalover

          I was there with my kid a couple of weeks ago, when the rain prevented us from venturing out of the plaza. It's the same, only more so. The service was memorably bad--they kind of shunted us into a corner to cower against the wall while they seated a party of 18 that walked in behind us. But the food was way better than the last time I'd been there a few years ago. Excellent selection, everything at temperature, etc. etc.

        2. The other more upscale dim sum place in Oakland Chinatown is Legendary Palace, which I like better than Peony.

          You might also want to consider hopping through the Webster St. tube to Alameda and trying Chef's Wok.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Thanks, Ruth.....I've heard of Legendary Palace also....well, let's see what tomorrow brings....

          2. I recommend East Ocean in Alameda (not the one in Emeryville).

            3 Replies
            1. re: PeterL

              Thanks, and I appreciate the clarification re: East Ocean...

              1. re: santosm

                I like East Ocean, too, but if you're looking for a specific dish, you might do better at Chef's Wok, which I think has a bigger range of options. It's only a block from East Ocean, so you can check them both out.

              2. re: PeterL

                I had a recent tasteless, wretched experience at East Ocean: turnip cake with no flavor, sticky rice where the rice had no discernible tasty grease and shreds of mystery meat/large chunks of low-end sausage, and char sui bow that were simply mediocre. Shame as I usually love their food.

                The funny thing was, I thought about trying Chef's Wok up the street as the outside crowd was larger. Chalked that up to the size of East Ocean. Maybe I made a big mistake?

                Anyway, as Alameda is far from home and my husband thinks it's too far to go, it will be a long time before dim sum on Alameda again.

              3. Haven't been to Walnut Creek. I've had too many ordinary-to-bad meals at both Legendary Palace and Peony to recommend either. I have also had superb meals at both, but those seem to be longer ago and more recently it's been the other way around, especially at LP. Difficult to justify their prices if they can't be consistently good.

                Jade Villa is consistently good, but not great. Gourmet Delight is pretty good, but not great. L and L, my second favorite, is gone now. They were consistently good for half the price of the other joints. Nothing special, but solid standard dim sum fare. I miss em. I think no one else is serving dim sum in Chinatown except for Happy Families, which I haven't visited in years. I guess I should get over there some time.

                11 Replies
                1. re: essvee

                  Any other recent visits to Jade Villa that were not horrible? I had the worst dim sum of my life there so am hesitant to go back.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I was there about two months back. Not horrible dim sum, but it wasn't all that great either. I will say it was on the cheaper side. I believe small dishes were $1.50 or something like that.

                  2. re: essvee

                    Joy Luck and Yo Ho (both on 8th btwn Webster and Harrison) both serve dim sum -- don't know if the price war is still going on, but they were both a very good value. Good, solid dim sum, but nothing fancy.

                    Jade Villa is definitely a step or two down.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      Thanks for the updates, Ruth. As may be obvious, I eat a lot of dim sum in Chinatown, so I will try those places soon. As to both Ruth's and Robert's comments/questions re: Jade Villa, I didn't go there for years because I had heard they weren't good, but curiosity got the better of me early this year and I've been a half-dozen times. One of the reasons I like it is that special items come around every day, not just on the weekends.

                      I ate there last week and had excellent stuffed bean curd skin (oyster sauce roll? not sure what it's called), one of my faves. This was multi-flavored and wonderfully savory. Salt-and-pepper squid was hot, never a given for fried items during dim sum, and tasty. A plate of simple soy sauce chow mein with bean sprouts and yellow chives was hot (always a plus) and good, nice springy chewy noodles. Spring rolls were crisp and yummy. Funnily enough, sui mai, har gow, et al never made it around to my table, but I was happy with the above. Saw some salt-and-pepper prawns go by, was unfortunately too full. Also saw honey walnut prawns go by, I would never order them but it's neat to see them as a weekday offering.

                      Has it been a while since you all have been by? I've never been truly disappointed there, like I have been by my last two visits to LP and my last visit to Peony, although of course some days are better than others.

                      One more thing-- I have a theory that the dim sum at LP is significantly better in quality and selections upstairs rather than down. I begged to be seated upstairs last time, to no avail...

                      1. re: essvee

                        I haven't been there in years. Sounds like it has changed a lot.

                        1. re: essvee

                          The dim sum at LP is indeed better upstairs.. some parts of it. The carts seem to start up there. If you can get seated right by the elevator, it's amazing. In a big party, if you are shoved up onto the elevated large tables, most carts just seem to pass you by. But it also depends on the time of day. Arriving around 11:30 seems optimal.

                          It has been about five years since I went to JV, but it was quite horrible then. Since then, the new "$1.50 item!!!" signs keep scaring me away.

                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Yo Ho has gone downhill when I tried it couple months ago. Joy Luck is probably much better. JL also had that excellent fried oyster if you like that stuff.

                          1. re: Han

                            Went to Joy Luck today. (Told ya I eat a lot of dim sum!) Had a really pleasant meal. The first dish that came around was a little crock of chix broth with tiny shrimp dumplings and yellow chives. Although the broth was a bit underseasoned, this special dish was a sign of good things to come. I had superb braised tofu skin (oyster sauce roll I think I heard it called once), a wonderful juxtaposition of tastes. The siu mai were a disappointment. The stuffing was kind of spongy, like beef ball, not crumbly with discrete pieces of pork and shrimp. But the fried shrimp dumplings, the pleated ones made with wonton wrappers and served with a big blob of Japanese mayonnaise, were fresh from the fryer and really good. (I know they are kind of disgusting with the mayo and all but I can't help it, I love 'em.)

                            Best of all, the price! The soup and dumplings were marked down as 'small,' which I didn't expect. The same dish would have cost 4 or 5 bucks somewhere else. The bill was 7.80 for four items. Great value and a nice selection. I'll go back for sure.

                            1. re: essvee

                              Glad you enjoyed it, yep, great value. If you order the soup again, add some white pepper at the table. Perks it right up.

                        3. re: essvee

                          In response to essvee's post:

                          Has Jade Villa recently turned for the better? I have not been back in the past few years due to the horrid experiences I've had myself as well as heard from various sources... Happy Families is no longer there; another owner has taken over and I am not sure they are serving dim sum anymore.

                          1. re: S U

                            I think it must have. I as well heard the horror stories, which is why I didn't venture in for years, but I've been a half-dozen times in 06 and have never been disappointed the way I have been at LP and Peony at various times.

                        4. There was a place on Mission Blvd, I believe, the strip mall 680/880 connector in south Fremont. The restaurant was packed with Chinese when I was there - can't remember the name. Mighty good dim sum....

                          Anyone know if it's still there?

                          1. Hi, All!

                            Thanks so much for your feedback. Okay, I was gonna chance LP this morning, but had a very last minute change of heart...like in my car on 580....decided to go to The Old Place Seafood, 391 Grand, Oaktown (510) 286-9888)...note: excellent reviews on YELP...I called to see if they were open...no answer....got there and 3 customers were leaving...this is 9:30 am...I asked them if they had dim sum and they replied that service wasn't even up and running yet and they decided to go elsewhere...they did state that the dim sum was great...a borderline defensive wait person said they had just opened...also, the heat hadn't yet kicked in....she said I could order off the menu...so I decided to stick it out....I spoke to one of the 4 owners who was extremely service oriented...he still has his day job at the Olypmic Club so methinks he knows quite a bit about service orientation....the staff is trained in the same vein...so, a good thing....we had the usual suspects, shiu mai, chien doi, har gow, steamed pork bow, Peking duck (yummo!) and some other dishes...I'm not too adventurous so I apologize if I can't speak to the exotic dim sum fare.....the restaurant slowly filled up to capacity...it is cozy and not off-putting in size...very clean (bathroom check!)....the bok tong go was somewhat disappointing (we later went to Tan Yuen on Franklin (strictly take out)for our rice cake fix....I would definitly go back again....I love when great service can be paired with great food!

                            Again, thanks for the responses.

                            Warmest aloha,
                            Martie

                            1. I'll put in another plug for The Old Place on Grand. The food is consistently good and relatively authentic - I took my family there (several months ago) and even my (Chinese and picky) mom was happy with the food. It's a small place through, and doesn't have that typical hustle-bustle dim sum feel...and because it's not as big, they don't have as much turnover of dishes...sometimes you see the last stray turnip cake or whatever going around again and again. Thus, I would recommend special ordering anything you don't see if you know what you want. Note that there are specials, written in Chinese, on the white-boards - a good bet. The servers are very friendly.

                              Legendary Palace and Peony are, in my limited experience, much better than Jade Villa, which I think is overly greasy. But I also don't go to dim sum all that often, and it seems that those three are inconsistent quality.

                              1. I eat at Tin's about once a month. It is quite good, not spectacular, but good. The service, on the other hand, is very good, and the ladies are willing to explain what it is on the cart if you don't recognize something. Lastly, it is very, very clean, which is important to me.

                                Jade Villa makes me queasy just thinking what I have seen there.

                                And I never liked paying Peony's prices for such sullen, snarling service, even if the food was a cut above anywhere else in Chinatown.

                                1. Tin's is reliable, if not spectacular. I also go about once a month or so as my office is a block away.

                                  1. I mean it is NOT spectacular...sorry.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: WCFoodie

                                      I'm an Atlanta hound, who just returned from a week in the Bay Area. On Christmas Day, I went to Tin's for the first time with my Chinese in-laws, who just moved to Walnut Creek.

                                      I agree that this place is certainly decent by out-of-towner standards, but doesn't compare to the places in Oakland and SF I've been taken to in past years. Dumplings were fresh and well-prepared, but our turnip cakes were underdone. I agree that the service was friendly and excellent, in both English and Chinese.

                                      1. re: pastramiking

                                        I think your description was accurate. Tin's has been getting better since it opened out here, however. I will continue to go there about once a month. One of my favorites in SF is City View. any comments about it from anyone?

                                        1. re: WCFoodie

                                          Maybe I should give City View another try, but the last time I was there, the food was lukewarm and tired looking and my companion and I definitely got the "gringo" treatment.

                                          1. re: WCFoodie

                                            We went to City View several months ago when my niece was in town. The food and service were quite good, and the place is generally cleaner than most of the dim sum palaces. The bill, however, was higher than I expected - for a group of 5, it was almost $100. But we did order a couple of noodle dishes and extra dim sum to take home. This was on a weekday at noon and the place was packed.