Gold Mountain dim sum report
One of the burdens of being considered an expert in various aspects of Bay Area dining is that one is expected to show off one's expertise to visitors, and the impact of a bad meal on one's reputation is incalculable.
So, after a taco-truck crawl last night (that went well), I was assigned to take the visitors (my 19-year-old cousin from England and his three friends) out to show off my dim sum skills.
The problem was picking a place that (1) was in the downtown/Chinatown area (within a reasonable lunch distance from my office); (2) had cart service; (3) had an interesting selection; (4) wasn't as expensive as Yank Sing. I rejected Harbor Village (downhill reports, expense, not the atmosphere I was looking for); Dol Ho (I wanted more carts, more bustle, and a bigger selection); and several places that don't have cart service (Kan's, Great Eastern, Louie's).
In the end, even though I'd never been there, I chose Gold Mountain.
It turned out to be perfect. At a little after 1 pm it was busy but not full; there were lots of carts and the selection was excellent; the price was right ($65 after tax but before tip for five of us, four being healthy, growing boys, and enough leftovers we probably could have fed one more -- five is a awkward number for dim sum and I ordered pretty lavishly). The quality was not great but good; the standout was the spinach dumplings in the green wrappers, and nothing was really bad (although a couple of things would have benefitted from being hotter).
In short, it was just the experience I was looking for. The boys really enjoyed it, and they were game and tried the jellyfish and chicken feet (which the cart lady was very dubious about -- she apparently has never had an all-Anglos table order chicken feet).
Okay, the latest iteration of the taco crawl -- we went by car, but I've done the same route on foot (which is probably better for the digestion), and it's based around the Fruitvale BART station, so it's an easy public transit outing.
1) El Novillo taco truck, parked in the lot for the Guadalajara restaurant across Fruitvale from the BART station. Purchase: carnitas tacos and tripas tacos.
2) El Ojo de Agua taco truck, parked across E.12th from El Novillo. Purchase: al pastor tacos, a nuez licado (sort of a milkshake flavored with ground nuts) and an agua fresca (their fruit of the day was peach, which I've never had before and which was only okay, but then I'm not big on peach-flavored drinks).
2b) We were too late to catch any fruit carts -- they'd all gone home -- but if we'd spotted one we would have gotten some corn (slathered with mayo, rolled in grated cheese and sprinkled with chile and some fruit slices with chile and lime). Carts are generally dotted along International between Fruitvale and 36th.
3) El Gordo taco truck, 42nd and International. Purchase: al pastor tacos and suardero tacos; horchata. Note: this truck is only parked here weekends and weekdays after 6 pm, although it is open quite late, til 3 am, I think.
4) El Huarache Azteca. Because we'd been unable to catch any fruit carts and Mariscos la Costa (where we would have gotten shrimp ceviche tostadas) was also closed, I opted to close the evening with some sit-down, table-service fare at El Huarache Azteca (3800 block of International). After a few hits and misses, I've come to the conclusion that the fresh-made masa dishes are the way to go here, so we ordered sopes (including huitlacoche), a huarache (with chicken tinga -- yum!), and a quesadilla (made from masa, not a premade tortilla). In addition to the quality of the food, this is also one of the most attractive restaurants in Fruitvale.
re: Ruth Lafler
I finally went by El Ojo de Agua yesterday for a breakfast burrito to celebrate buying a car (!!). God, it was painfully good, and I think you burrito eaters know what I mean. I couldn't stop eating, finished almost the whole thing and then regretted my overindulgence for several hours afterwards. Ouch. I was very glad I didn't get a nuez liquado on top of the burrito -- I probably would have passed out.
The burrito came with chorizo (you can also get ham), rice, beans (pinto refried), scrambled eggs, salsa, onions, cilantro and avocado. It's enormous and a bit of an oily mess to eat. Perfect hangover food. El Ojo also offers an "American" breakfast burrito, which I think is ham, eggs, cheese and pototoes.
Enjoyed your review Ruth.
I've still never been to Gold Mountain, but may suggest it for an upcoming lunch with some ex-coworkers. A couple of times a year we meet up at either Yank Sing or Harbor Village; I think this would be a good departure from the norm.
(I could picture the look on the cart lady's face when you ordered the chicken feet :-)