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Apr 1, 2008 12:42 PM

BEST Chinese Restaurant in Oakland

BEST Chinese Restaurant in Oakland - HELP PLEASE!!!

We have lived off Lakeshore in Oakland since 2000, and have yet to find an exceptional Chinese Restaurant. Shin Shin on Piedmont Avenue is decent enough but not noteworthy.

Would love to hear from Chowhounds for recommendations.

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  1. Some places to try:

    Shanghai Restaurant
    930 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

    Legendary Palace
    708 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94607

    Spices 3
    369 12th St, Oakland, CA 94607

    Shan Dong Mandarin Restaurant
    328 10th St, Oakland, CA 94607

    Chef Lau's
    301 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

    5 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      None of those is what I would call exceptional. Good but not exceptional.

      1. re: PeterL

        They're the best I know of in Oakland. Do you have any other suggestions besides leaving town?

        1. re: PeterL

          But they are ALL better than Shin Shin, especially post the change in ownership around a year ago.

        2. re: Robert Lauriston

          Perhaps it was an off-night, or too early in the evening, but I tried Chef Lau's recently and had a very disappointing bowl of Wor Wonton soup. It was huge, but tasteless.

          1. re: JLiebling

            The dishes I order over and over again at Chef Lau's are their salt-and-pepper fish, the pumpkin fritters with salted egg yolk batter, the pea shoots with thousand-year egg, and the potstickers.

        3. What are you looking for, take out or sit down? Price?

          My 2 go-to-places are New Gold Medal and Chef Lau's but for different reasons. Both have modest environments.

          Chef Lau's is overall very good, great deal, take out or sit down, very fresh.

          New Gold Medal is open late (until 2 a.m.) and needs vetting...i.e., you have to figure out what is good and go to meals.

          9 Replies
          1. re: ML8000

            Yeah, what people think of when they think of the "great Chinese restaurant" can be a lot of different things, and whether you like any of the restaurants Robert listed will depend a lot on what you order and what you're expecting.

            1. re: ML8000

              Sit down seating. Price not an issue. Would love to find someplace away from Chinatown if possible (parking drama).

              1. re: doxxie lover

                Don't let parking stop you from going to Chinatown, as long as you're willing to spend a couple of bucks (literally) for parking. Parking is always a snap in the garage under the Renaissance Plaza on Webster St., especially in the evening.....and you're then only a block or two away from all the above-referenced restaurants.

                1. re: ace

                  Also, parking is easier just a few blocks away. In the evening we never have difficulty finding street parking in the 10th to 12th street area just below Webster.

                2. re: doxxie lover

                  I'm still not sure what kind of food you want. Good quality "American-Chinese" (which is what I would consider Shin Shin to be)? Authentic regional Chinese (Cantonese/Hong Kong seafood, Shanghai, Shan Dong, Sichuan, etc.)? There are only a few places outside of Chinatown that do the latter -- one of them might interest you: King of King on E. 12th. Although it's not a great neighborhood.

                  King of King Restaurant
                  1139 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94606

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    King of King is very good. I've been there for small functions, like 2-3 tables of 10 and everything is well prepared and tasty. But as you mention, the 'hood isn't so great but then the prices reflect this as well.

                    1. re: ML8000

                      I was at King of King today actually, but we always go for just dim sum. I've never tried the regular menu but may try it out based on the recs. I hear you can also order dim sum from the menu during off hours. Service is always attentive and prices fair.

                      I can see how the 'hood wouldn't be appealing relative to other parts of Oakland, but I certainly wouldn't be "scared" walking those few blocks of East 12th St. <g>

                  2. re: doxxie lover

                    You may want to try East Ocean in Alameda. Again good but not exceptional. Further afield I like Great China in Berkeley for their Peking duck and tea smoked duck, probably the best in the Bay Area. Even further north to the Ranch 99 mall in Richmond, Asian Pearl is very good for dim sum.

                    1. re: PeterL

                      That's a good point -- I should have thought of East Ocean (which is only through the tunnel from Chinatown). It does a very nice job with both American-Chinese and more "authentic" Cantonese dishes.

                3. If we're broadening this topic beyond Oakland, then I think we pretty much covered it a month ago:


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Agreed, if expanding beyond Oakland, what does the OP think of China Village?

                  2. doxxie lover, if you mean 'exceptional' as having a chef relocated from a three-star place in Hong Kong or Shanghai, I doubt Oakland has such a place. (possible eastbay candidates would be China Village, much discussed, or Lily's House in Lafayette. On a simpler level, I've found Daimo in the Pacific East mall as good as any Oakland/Alameda spot mentioned in this thread, haven't tried King of King).

                    The original chef of Chef Lau's split with the owner, tried other ventures, and ended up starting his own place with a fairly simple menu, some live fish tanks. For classic minimalist transplanted Cantonese cooking, I've found his very consistent with good wok breath, never heavy nor oily. Sam's, 15th near Franklin. Like someone said, each palate has particular preferences, and you have to go through some so-so meals before finding what's best for you. I think Shin Shin lacks competition to keep up consistency and quality and I gave up on it some years ago.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: moto

                      although not "oakland", i've heard rumors that a former HKFL chef ended up in san leandro @ Prince Dim Sum. was there a few weeks ago, albeit for the weekend dim sum. they do have a dinner menu. can anyone verify re: the chef?

                      1. re: S U

                        Good lead -- those Chinese chefs are elusive, hard to track quarry, especially if you can't read the local Chinese newspapers.

                        Prince Dim Sum House
                        14736 E 14th St, San Leandro, CA 94578

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Elusive Chinese Chefs are truly hard to find. Here are few rules of thumb in tracking Chinese Chefs.

                          Ruth is right the first two requirement are tough, you need to know how to read and speak Chinese.

                          Then you need to get in tight with the wait staff to see if the chef is the owner. It this the case you are set until it closes.

                          Now it the chef is not the owner then you need to know what he looks and if possible get him to know you. Owner will tell you the chef returned to China in the hope you will not try to find him or her. But then I am always on the look out for my next great meal.

                          At this time I am following a lead for a great chef. I need to really see him before I post. But if the rumors are true we are in for a treat. More to follow.

                          1. re: S U

                            I've not been there, but I'll share the second-hand info from a friend who works nearby and has eaten at Prince Dim Sum many times. Master chef is Bill Siu, formerly of HKFL in Millbrae. He cooks at dinner time only and has Tuesdays off. My friend advises, " is excellent, but ambiance could be better."

                            Prince Dim Sum House
                            14736 E 14th St, San Leandro, CA 94578

                            1. re: S U

                              I hear Chef Siu is now at Sun Hong Kong in Berkeley.

                              Sun Hong Kong
                              2439 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Yes, my friend who was his good customer in San Leandro mentioned this to me a few months ago.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  There's reportedly now an English menu of some of Siu's special dishes. When I walked by the other night it was not posted in the window.

                            2. re: moto

                              moto, thank you so much for this intelligence. We're delighted to be reunited with this chef's cooking. As you say, he is remarkably consistent in his execution and has a light touch. Here's a link to my post on two dinners at Sam's Restaurant.


                              Sam's Restaurant
                              419 15th St, Oakland, CA

                            3. In my opinion, definitely Restaurant Peony, Pacific Renaissance Plaza, 9th St, Oakland.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: klyeoh

                                I second this - rather, I'm not in love with it, but it seems better than Legendary Palace these days. ...And I was disappointed with Shan Dong, where I ordered all the dishes people recommended on Yelp.