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Nov 9, 2009 09:50 AM

El Cerrito: L & L Chinese Seafood Restaurant - Dim Sum, congee and sliced pumpkin in plum sauce

The sturgeon fillet congee was very good. The congee was the right consistancy, richly flavored and nicley topped with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and green onion. The delicate slices of sturgeion were very fresh and generous. A small dish of salted peanuts came with the congee.

Dim sum is served daily until 3pm. However if you ask they will make some items such as dumplings after hours.

The service is very nice but they have only been open two days and there were still a few very minor things to work out.

L & L takes over China House which was formerly Golden Dynasty. I never made it to either but I have to guess that other than the new good luck plants not much has changed decor-wise. There were two tanks of live fish.

The chef's sister oversees the servers, all woman. There's a sort of comfortable, relaxed homey atmosphere. She said her brother got his certification in China and worked at a restaurant there before coming to the US and workng at verious Bay Area restaurants for quite a few years. I'll leave it to Chowhounds to get the details.

She is very welcoming to people who are not Chinese. She spent a bit of time chatting with me and another woman discussing dishes on the menu. I said once crab season started I'd probably be back for the Dungeness crab with pumpkin sauce. She mentioned that crab could be prepared in other ways that weren't on the menu. She liked it done simply.

Per my recent lack of luck with pumpkin dishes ... they didn't have pumpkin yet.

I'll put a few of the other dishes in the first reply.

L & L Chinese Seafood Restaurant
10140 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

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  1. Here's a few items from the menu

    There is a menu of 54 dim sum dishes plus two more handwritten in Chinese. Prices run from $2.20 - $4.50 with most in the two dollar range.

    The usuals are there plus
    - Rice sheet rolls (plain, beef, bbq pork, shrimp or with donut)
    - Lobster with cheese turnover
    - Zhong shan shrimp dumpling
    - Spiced jelly fish
    - Sugar cane pudding banh bo
    - Seasonal fruit pudding
    - Malasian cake
    - Chow zhou dumpling

    Given my lack of in-depth dim sum knowledge, some of these are probably on other menus.

    The regular menu has a lot of dishes with fish heads and
    - Scented bean curd (a polite name for stinky tofu?)
    - Diced roasted duck lettuce wraps
    - French style beef fillet
    - Beef stew with clear broth
    - Clams with wine clay pot
    - L & L chef's imperial chicken
    - Steamed cherry stone clams with vermicellin and minced garlic
    - Bay Fung Tong style stir fried crab (seasonal)
    - Stir fried crab with salted egg yolk (seasonal)
    - Fish fillet with Thai style sauce
    - Thai style chicken feet
    - Beef shortribs with Korean style sauce
    - Beef chow fun with satay sauce
    - Malaysian style chow fun
    - Stir fried frog with salty egg yolk
    - Honey walnut prawns with mango sauce
    - Ox Tail with red wine
    - Lamb stew and bean curd clay pot
    - Smoked seabass
    - Hung Tao Yee won ton

    There's even a low fat section that includes
    - Mixed mushrooms clay pot
    - Mustard greens with imperial ham soup

    The $5.75 lunch specials (11 am - 3 pm) are served with house soup and a choice of steamed rice, fried rice or chow mein). They are the usual Chinese lunch items but there is scrambled egg and bbq pork.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      I went in for an early 5:30 dinner last night with two starving, grumpy teens. We ordered their favorites; WestLake Soup not overly vinagery, beef chow fun dry with only a sprinkling of bean sprouts, stirfry beef with broccoli definitely a light touch, nice presentation with veggies still crunchy and half a roast duck generous portion not fatty, but a lean, "skinny" duck. The beef in both dishes was tender, but could be more flavorful. They ran out of Chinese broccoli so be sure to ask. Overall, the food was light and the veggies were crunchy. The bill came to $34. and they are giving an introductory 10% off. I didn't have time to ask if this discount was for all meals. We'll be back to try the dim sum lunch. Waitress said the owners previously had a restaurant in Oakland Chinatown. L & L has promise for solid Cantonese fare in El Cerrito.

      L & L Chinese Seafood Restaurant
      10140 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530

      1. re: bunnysitter

        Yeah, think there was a L&L on Webster between 11th and 12th

    2. Dim sum for lunch today was as good as I've found anywhere, comparable to East Ocean in Alameda. Salt and pepper squid was light and not greasy, the shrimps wrapped in rice noodles were huge and slightly smoky, and taro balls were creamy and moist. Kind of chilly inside; bring a sweater.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ernie in berkeley

        Remember what the prices of the plates (s,m,l, etc) were?

        1. re: kc72

          I think it was $2.00, $2.20, $3.30 and $4.50. My three dishes came to a little over $10 with the 10% discount.

          1. re: ernie in berkeley

            No. As mentioned in the first reply, the dim sum starts at $2.20, not $2. However, if you figure in the discount brings it down to dishes starting at $1.98

            Has anyone found out yet where the chef has worked in the past.

        2. re: ernie in berkeley

          How does it compare to the newish place in Pinole? - King Valley Tea House? Glad to hear the local choices are improving. ( I live in Richmond )

        3. I tried L&L for the first time last Wednesday. I don't remember the menu names of these dishes but my descriptions are close.

          Zhongshan fish cake and gai lan stir fry. I've had a version of this at Asian Pearl in the Pacific East mall before but I don't remember the details too clearly because in the meantime I've also tried their fish cake and milk curd dish. A large fish cake is made from either dace or steelhead (I don't know the exact translation) and is fried before being sliced thin to go into the stir fry. No sauce, good wok flavor and the Chinese broccoli was cooked to the point of softening the crunch. The fish cake had a clear flavor of the type of fish used and was seasoned with white pepper.

          Beef and mushroom stir fry. The beef had a good strong flavor but was from a very tough cut and some pieces had unchewable bits which might have been silver skin. From the texture it was clear that tenderizer was used but that can't help everything. The mix of mushrooms included beech, oyster, and shitake and it was all bound together will a flavorful sauce that probably had oyster sauce in it. The wok flavor was good and this could have been a very good dish if a better cut of beef was used.

          Seafood claypot. This was ordered as a point of reference to compare the cook to the one at Chef Lau's in Oakland. The usual mix of various shellfish, pieces of rockfish, fried tofu, shitakes, and Chinese cabbage. The seafood was okay and the light brown sauce had a good flavor. Decent but I'd say that Chef Lau's is better.

          L&L isn't the bargain that Chef Lau's is although the portions are quite a bit larger. No menu with every dish at the same price. No specials. I would like to see more Zhongshan specialties so that they can differentiate themselves. Not as pricey as Asian Pearl or Daimo and it's a good Cantonese addition to the area. Dinner business was slow. Only a couple tables were filled when I arrived and by 7pm only around four more tables were taken. Compare that to Chef Lau's, where last night it was half full at 5:45 and by 6:30 there were over a dozen people waiting for tables. Hopefully they can improve on the business beyond what seemed to be people who lived close by.

          Got the 10% grand opening discount and was comped mango pudding.

          3 Replies
          1. re: PorkButt

            No menu with every dish at the same price?

            I like stopping at Chef Lau's when I'm in Oakland C-Town also

            1. re: kc72

              No wo choy menu. I was hoping that there would be a 3 for $X menu with rice and soup of the day but maybe they think that it's not fancy enough. After all, they provide cloth napkins!

              I was reading the wall specials at Chef Lau's and saw "pork [something] wrap/bao chicken" for $35 and wondered what the hell could that be. Turns out to be a chicken in a pig stomach. Still can't imagine what that could taste like.

              1. re: PorkButt

                So when you said 'no menu w/ every dish at the same price' -- you meant no wo choy menu?

                Yeah, it'd be nice to have the 3 for $x deal, but not likely to happen in this area. Jac's next door in the Peppermint Plaza w/ their daily $5.88 specials menu is probably the closest thing.

          2. We went for dim sum last weekend and really liked it. Almost an empty dining room shortly after 11:00, when they opened--it had filled up by the time we left, but this is definitely a less crowded, more low-key option than other local dim sum spots.

            For me, the downside of ordering from a checklist (rather than carts) is that I always end up ordering too much food! I think I must have ordered 9 or 10 items for the two of us, but the bill still came out to less than $30. Great value here, and the food was very good. I'd say it was on par with East Ocean (in Alameda).

            Overall, the food is less salty and less oily than most other dim sum places. There were a couple of items where I wished they'd seasoned a little bit more aggressively, but overall this was a good thing--especially on the fried dishes, like the taro dumplings, which were among the best I've had in the Bay Area. Not greasy at all. Likewise, the turnip cakes were DEFINITELY the best I've had in the area. Didn't come with any sauce (as is typical in other places), but it didn't need it, as it was already well-seasoned and had a generous amount of actual turnip (as opposed to empty filler).

            Standards like char siu bao, chicken feet, siu mai, shrimp rice rolls, and har gow were all solid to very good. We ended up with some leftovers, but the food was still tasty heated up even a couple days later.

            Friendly service, too, as far as dim sum places go. We'll be back to try the fish congee and some of the dim sum items we missed this time. Dungeness crab in pumpkin sauce sounds great for crab season.

            2 Replies
            1. re: abstractpoet

              Have enjoyed dim sum and a few of the dinner set menus here. Think I've enjoyed the dim sum here more than my opening week experience at East Bay Saigon.

              I heard the daily lunch specials are pretty decent also. But if you order a single dim sum item to go w/ your lunch special, they'll tack on the dim sum tea fee.

              1. re: abstractpoet

                They do a really good pan-fried noodles with seafood, very fresh ingredients.

              2. I saw a sign in the window as I drove past 2 crab $24.95. Sorry no other info.

                3 Replies
                1. re: wolfe

                  L&L's got a small window, basically their front door ;)

                  Yuet Foo up the street has a similar sign for that says 2 crabs or lobsters for $24.95 (I think)

                  1. re: kc72

                    Has anyone been to Yuet Foo? Is it as good as L&L?

                    1. re: kc72

                      I am sorry, you are correct. I was just driving by and made a mistake.