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BEST Chinese Restaurant in Oakland

doxxie lover Apr 1, 2008 12:42 PM

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.

  1. Robert Lauriston Apr 1, 2008 12:52 PM

    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
      PeterL Apr 1, 2008 01:08 PM

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

      1. re: PeterL
        Robert Lauriston Apr 1, 2008 01:11 PM

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

        1. re: PeterL
          lexdevil Apr 1, 2008 02:26 PM

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

        2. re: Robert Lauriston
          JLiebling Sep 27, 2012 04:46 PM

          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
            daveena Sep 27, 2012 07:05 PM

            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. m
          ML8000 Apr 1, 2008 01:16 PM

          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
            Ruth Lafler Apr 1, 2008 01:20 PM

            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
              doxxie lover Apr 1, 2008 02:24 PM

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

              1. re: doxxie lover
                ace Apr 1, 2008 02:33 PM

                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
                  lexdevil Apr 1, 2008 02:35 PM

                  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
                  Ruth Lafler Apr 1, 2008 02:35 PM

                  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
                    ML8000 Apr 1, 2008 05:18 PM

                    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
                      DezzerSF Apr 1, 2008 07:50 PM

                      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
                    PeterL Apr 1, 2008 04:07 PM

                    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
                      Ruth Lafler Apr 1, 2008 04:20 PM

                      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. Robert Lauriston Apr 1, 2008 04:23 PM

                  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
                    bbulkow Apr 3, 2008 11:29 PM

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

                  2. moto Apr 1, 2008 09:55 PM

                    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
                      S U Apr 1, 2008 10:19 PM

                      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
                        Ruth Lafler Apr 1, 2008 10:23 PM

                        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
                          yimster Apr 3, 2008 10:48 PM

                          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.

                        2. re: S U
                          kc72 Apr 1, 2008 10:32 PM

                          how was the dim sum?

                          1. re: S U
                            Melanie Wong Apr 9, 2008 08:50 PM

                            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, "...food is excellent, but ambiance could be better."

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

                            1. re: S U
                              Robert Lauriston Oct 12, 2011 10:37 AM

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

                              Sun Hong Kong
                              2439 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                Melanie Wong Oct 12, 2011 11:45 AM

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

                                1. re: Melanie Wong
                                  Robert Lauriston Oct 12, 2011 12:35 PM

                                  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
                              Melanie Wong Aug 23, 2008 10:29 PM

                              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. k
                              klyeoh Apr 4, 2008 01:06 AM

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

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: klyeoh
                                eeblet May 25, 2008 08:20 AM

                                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.

                              2. j
                                jenniefer333 Apr 10, 2008 01:26 AM

                                Shan Dong Restaurant, this is one of our favorite places for Chinese food & all the dishes here are reliably tasty and not too expensive.
                                Restaurant Peony is also good.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: jenniefer333
                                  daveena Apr 15, 2008 06:24 PM

                                  Which dishes do you recommend at Shan Dong? Aside from their knife cut noodles, pork buns, and dumplings, I haven't had much luck finding dishes I'd order again.

                                  1. re: daveena
                                    jmarek Apr 17, 2008 01:11 PM

                                    Those are the best dishes and the reason to go. But the dry-fried string beans with preserved veg and the lotus chicken are both good too

                                    1. re: daveena
                                      oakjoan Apr 17, 2008 10:25 PM

                                      The spicy eggplant at Shan Dong is fabulous in my uneducated opinion. It has just the right combo of vinegar and chili....we actually had it there tonight.

                                      Also their braised green beans with chicken are very nice. Good, fresh string beans, too.

                                      1. re: daveena
                                        DezzerSF May 9, 2008 09:55 PM

                                        Are their knife cut noodles the "hand made" noodles (extra $1)? I ordered them today and found them rather thick and doughy. But maybe that's how they are supposed to be? Anyway, they didn't go well with the wonton noodle soup.

                                        Also, it's best to go there with a group as the dumplings come in batches of 10. I had no luck in getting the kitchen to make me a half batch.

                                        1. re: DezzerSF
                                          yimster May 10, 2008 08:33 AM

                                          Knife cut noodles are cut by hand so they will be thicker, uneven and doughy. They are not to be used in a won ton style soup. A thin noodle is best this way. I like the knife noodles in a stir fried (chow) noodle dish.

                                    2. r
                                      rapid4 Apr 15, 2008 03:23 PM

                                      I have never understood how Shin Shin could win any award. I go to Shen Hua on College Avenue near Ashby, which is great. On Piedmont Avenue, forget Chinese and go to Lococo's or the Greek restaurant. Avoid the Thai place -- very slow and food is below average.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: rapid4
                                        Mission Apr 15, 2008 06:19 PM

                                        Do you mean Simply Greek,on Piedmont Avenue?

                                        Their Greek food is horrible.

                                        However they do really nice custom cooked fries ,which is the only thing worth ordering.

                                        I have eaten there about 10 times.

                                        The last straw was their "Mediterranean plate." Which is not on the reqular menu
                                        (Now I know why)

                                        Oh my goodness was it bad.

                                        It was like Greek food from South Dakota.

                                        1. re: rapid4
                                          Robert Lauriston Apr 16, 2008 10:47 AM

                                          Shen Hua's food is good but very Americanized in a contemporary, Bay Area kind of way (like Eliza's and Eric's in SF). Relatives (?) operate Kirin on Solano and Ching Hua in Alameda, which have similar food.

                                        2. eeblet May 25, 2008 08:23 AM

                                          This is not a recommendation, but a question - has anyone tried the food at ABC? I like their cock tail buns, and other pastries, but I've only ever looked at the food. Some of it seems like it might be good, albeit greasy.

                                          1. mr_morcilla May 30, 2008 10:47 PM

                                            I work in O-land near Chinatown, and I <heart> Chinese food. We've been getting the best meals (at lunch, anyway) at Spices III on 12th. Just avoid the stinky tofu dishes. I'll eat durian, but stinky tofu is truly gag-worthy. You don't even want it on the table!
                                            They often play videos of rock concerts that look like they were produced by Cirque de Soliel, which can be distracting, or amazing.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: mr_morcilla
                                              daveena May 31, 2008 06:11 PM

                                              Hi mr morcilla - would you mind posting which dishes you like best at Spices 3 on this thread (it's the most recent running list of people's favorite dishes there)?

                                            2. v
                                              veganchefoakland Mar 14, 2012 04:27 PM

                                              Spices 3 on 12th street! Best chinese restaurant in the bay area. Huge selection of incredibly spicy veggie dishes. LOVE this place :)

                                              10 Replies
                                              1. re: veganchefoakland
                                                bbulkow Sep 27, 2012 05:30 PM

                                                The spices franchise is pretty good. I've never been to the oakland one, but ... best in the bay area? Really? Who would you say are second and third?

                                                1. re: bbulkow
                                                  Robert Lauriston Sep 27, 2012 05:37 PM

                                                  The topic is Oakland, not the Bay Area. The bar's kind of low.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                    bbulkow Sep 27, 2012 06:24 PM

                                                    The statement by veganchefoakland was bay area, not oakland

                                                    1. re: bbulkow
                                                      Robert Lauriston Sep 27, 2012 07:33 PM

                                                      Maybe for a vegetarian.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                        veganchefoakland Sep 27, 2012 07:40 PM

                                                        my other top 2 would be Old Islamic Mandarin House and Big Lantern.

                                                        1. re: veganchefoakland
                                                          bbulkow Sep 30, 2012 12:09 PM

                                                          It's interesting that you don't mention other of the long-time favorites, like Zen Pen and Yank Sing and the like. Are you just more of a Chengdu kind of person, without much love of the Shanghai/Cantonese side of China? If so, what's your thought on Mission Chinese?

                                                          I'm very interested in an update, since it's changed hands this summer. I'll go on my "i'm hungry in oakland" list for certain.

                                                          1. re: bbulkow
                                                            hyperbowler Sep 30, 2012 02:35 PM

                                                            I've apparently eaten there 3 or so times since the owner changed, and didn't notice any difference in food quality. I'm wondering if the chef is the same--- the way they haphazardly hack the chicken wings in the explosive chile chicken isn't something I've experinced elsewhere and that's not changed recently.

                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                          veganchefoakland Sep 27, 2012 07:40 PM

                                                          Spices is Oakland is no longer connected to the other locations called Spices!

                                                          1. re: veganchefoakland
                                                            Robert Lauriston Sep 28, 2012 12:12 PM

                                                            Right you are, the liquor license changed hands in June. Has the menu or cooking changed?


                                                  2. re: veganchefoakland
                                                    shanghaikid Sep 27, 2012 07:54 PM

                                                    nature vegetarian, 1116 franklin. st., uses "mock" (imitation) meat for all their chinese oreiented dishes.

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