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Happy Valley's dim sum - Oakland

Robert Lauriston Aug 5, 2010 11:25 AM

I happened by this place the other day and thought I'd have lunch, but they had just stopped serving dim sum. Anybody tried it?

They have a checklist a la Hong Kong East Ocean in Emeryville. Prices $1.80 small / $2 medium / $2.25 large / $2.60 special / $3.80 (more) special. Around 65 items total including some stuff I've never seen before such as "Malaya Paste" and "Japanese Eel w/Teriyaki Sauce."

The checklist says both 9am-2:30pm and 7 days a week 10am-2:30pm. They serve dinner as well.

Happy Valley Restaurant
400 E 12th St, Oakland, CA

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  1. c
    calny RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 5, 2010 02:25 PM

    Happy Valley's is the place I go to most for dim sum. I prefer the dumplings at Hong Kong East Ocean in Emeryville, as the flavors are more refined, but HV works just fine for everyday dim sum. I like their stuffed tofu, fried tofu skin shrimp roll, and the various rice noodle roll options. The best thing about the place is how cheap it is. Pretty good food, very good value.

    Happy Valley Restaurant
    400 E 12th St, Oakland, CA

    1. m
      ML8000 RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 5, 2010 02:49 PM

      Don't know what Malay Paste is but the Japanese eel sounds like unagi.

      7 Replies
      1. re: ML8000
        Ruth Lafler RE: ML8000 Aug 5, 2010 03:41 PM

        I've seen unagi at other dim sum places. East Ocean in Alameda is one -- it's a special so it isn't on the check-off menu there.

        1. re: ML8000
          Melanie Wong RE: ML8000 Aug 5, 2010 05:05 PM

          Malay paste might be something like balachung.

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            dolcetto RE: Melanie Wong Aug 7, 2010 08:30 AM

            As a former Malayan (or Malaysia as she is now known) I can categorically deny the existence of Malaya Paste as a dish. Belachan is in fact a fermented shrimp paste with quite a bit of funk and considered an essential ingredient in Malaysia. I believe it translates loosely to "Malay paste" in Cantonese. It is still a condiment/flavoring though and used in many stir-fry dishes as in "Belachan Ong Choy", curries and the quintessential Sambal Belachan, akin to ketchup and a must-have on many Malaysian tables.
            I agree Happy Valley is a great value with adequate dimsum.

            Happy Valley Restaurant
            400 E 12th St, Oakland, CA

          2. re: ML8000
            rotiprata RE: ML8000 Aug 7, 2010 12:02 PM

            Malay paste could be the same as Ma Lai Go.

            1. re: rotiprata
              Melanie Wong RE: rotiprata Aug 7, 2010 12:51 PM

              From the photo posted today, turns out you're right. I love malai go when it's fresh out of the steamer.

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                Robert Lauriston RE: Melanie Wong Aug 7, 2010 12:52 PM

                What gives it that color?

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  theSauce RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 15, 2013 07:40 PM

                  You don't want to know... Just kidding, it's brown sugar.

          3. Eugene Park RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 5, 2010 06:08 PM

            Thanks for the tips/pointers. I may try to check this out with the family in the near future. What kind of capacity and decor will you find here?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Eugene Park
              Robert Lauriston RE: Eugene Park Aug 5, 2010 06:24 PM

              New and clean, lots of light, nothing fancy. Medium sized. I think it was mostly large round tables.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                Eugene Park RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 6, 2010 11:37 PM

                Thanks! We will try and check it out soon, and report back.

            2. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 7, 2010 12:48 PM

              Tried today. Steamed cilantro soft rice noodle, steamed cilantro w/shrimp dumpling, dry scallop (mostly pork) dumpling in soup, some pan-fried noodle rolls with dried shrimp or dried scallop (not sure what it was called on the menu), and Chinese tender green w/oyster sauce were my favorites. Can anyone identify the greens? I liked them better than the usual Chinese broccoli.

              Turnip cake, deep-fried taro dumpling, yellow chive & shrimp steamed soft noodle, and steamed spare ribs with black bean were not bad.

              Would not order "Malaya Paste" (turned out to be steamed cake, see photo) or salt & pepper fried squid again.

              Total bill was $28 for enough food for three or four people (there were only two of us so a ton of leftovers). Not as good as East Ocean Seafood in Alameda, but cheaper and there was no wait. Seems like you could eat really well here if you figured out what to order and what to avoid.

              Happy Valley Restaurant
              400 E 12th St, Oakland, CA

              2 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                vincentlo RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 9, 2010 01:06 AM

                That veggie must be listed under "Chinese Tender Green w/Oyster Sauce" on that menu. It's "choy sum" as known to Cantonese speakers, but is often called "yu choy" in large Chinese grocery chains. The stalks are thinner than Chinese broccoli, and the leafy vegetable bears a much milder taste.

                Interestingly most dim sum restaurants serve Chinese broccoli instead of choy sum.

                1. re: vincentlo
                  theSauce RE: vincentlo Dec 15, 2013 07:43 PM

                  Yes, it's cheap Chinese greens. Yu Choy usually runs about $.99 a lb while gai lan runs about $1.99 lb.

              2. sfeater RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 12, 2010 04:10 PM

                Thank you so much for trying Robert, moved a couple blocks away recently, but was hesitant to try because it is always empty at night. Going to try for dim sum this weekend and will report back. Anyone else have recommendations on what to order?

                1. s
                  shanghaikid RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 13, 2010 11:10 PM

                  tried happy valley's dim sum finally and it ranks very close to the bottom of my list.
                  -congee w/pork & preserved egg
                  -steamed beef ball
                  -pan fried turnip cake
                  -steamed bbq buns
                  -steamed shrimp soft rice noodle
                  -siu mai
                  it looks like dim sum but doesn't taste like it. no service at all. beware of street sweeping on thurdays, fridays, 12:30-3:30.
                  -yep, it's cheap, you get what you pay for.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: shanghaikid
                    Chandavkl RE: shanghaikid Aug 14, 2010 12:23 PM

                    Well, value priced dim sum is understandably more prevalent these days and I think that so long as you know what you're in for, there's certainly a place for this kind of alternative. In its own way this kind of choice is preferable to mortgaging your house to go to Yank Sing.

                    Yank Sing
                    49 Stevenson St Ste Stlv, San Francisco, CA 94105

                    1. re: Chandavkl
                      shanghaikid RE: Chandavkl Aug 14, 2010 08:23 PM

                      yank sing's dim sum is pricey but their dim sum lacks fat, msg, all kinds of additives and the meats used are fresh not frozen. haven't seen any evidence of fillers either.

                      on the other hand, so called value pricing is a marketing term.
                      some value dim sum should be labeled "as is":
                      as is:
                      -filled with fillers (flour, corn starch, little beef or little turnip or leftover char siu)
                      -made with frozen meats, factory second meats or sometimes tainted meat.(spoiled)
                      -all kinds of additives which can be injurious to one's heatlh.(baking soda to make shrimp crunchy for an example), sugar, salt, and potassium carbonate.....

                      oh, bon appetit!

                  2. Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Dec 15, 2013 03:33 PM

                    Went back to see if the change of ownership made a difference. Turnip cake, spinach dumpling, steamed leek gor (pictured) were good. Chew chow fun gor (pictured) was an odd mix of pork, boiled peanuts, and I don't know what. Dry scallop dumpling was bland. Taro dumpling was made to order so nice and hot but I much prefer Yank Sing's. Good value for money, tastier than the last couple of visits to East Ocean Seafood. Ten items were $25, plenty for two though no leftovers.

                    Menu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/16851267...

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