richmond / el cerrito saigon restaurant grand opening today
east bay saigon finally reopen today with a big crowd
We actually ate there Friday night and were told that it was the first night.
We had Salt and pepper flounder, Choy Sum with Garlic and Mixed Meat Hong Kong Style Noodle
Food was very good.
Greens were under salted but bright and fresh with whole cloves of garlic that had been seared in the oil before the greens.
The S&P flounder was coated in a fine panko like crumb, lots of fried garlic and a few slices of chili, very tasty.
Mein was also well prepared little skimpy on the seafood but nice crisp to soft ratio and flavor.
Lots of beautiful live seafood. Will definitely be back to have some of that.
Service is a bit screwed up. The runners are not allowed to put the food on the table so there is a lot of standing next to the table and trying to get a server over to put the dish on the table. I sure someone see this as "classy" it is pretty ridiculous to watch. You can see customers wanting to just take it off the tray.
It was their first night, perhaps they realize the silliness of the system, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Over all I think it will give Diamo a run for their money.
Noisy at 11:30 today and opening week sloppy service.
The banner outside said $1.99 small dim sum items, $3.99 for beef stew/brisket noodle soup, $13.99 some sort of cold crab dish, $18.99 rock cod 2 ways.
Seemed to be the same dim sum items going around (har gao, siu mai, crepe rolls, chicken feet, spareribs, sticky rice -- the standards). The mgr said they'll be rolling new stuff out over the next couple of weeks.
Tried this taro bun that I heard was very popular at the Sunnyvale location. Pretty good and delicate, not as doughy as normal buns.
Asia Pearl was still packed when I walked by afterwards.
I can't generalize on the basis of one dish, but I wasn't impressed. It was a plate of "hand-tossed noodle" with shrimp shumai and shrimp/mushroom wontons, and steamed greens, served with a bowl of broth, kind of an assemble-it-yourself noodle soup. The noodles were basically ramen and the oil on them wasn't very good. The broth was underseasoned. Portions were generous, though, and people around me seemed happy with their food. I was just about the only Westerner in a big crowd.
The noise there was always horrendous, and I'm sorry to learn it's not any better in the new incarnation. I remember once walking out and remarking to my companions how much quieter it was in the parking lot, which considering the proximity to the freeway there is saying something!
Went for mid-week dim sum and it not enjoyable. The restaurant was packed at 11:30 but the wait was only ten minutes or so as the waiting crowd grew and grew. It was funny to see group after group walking over from the 99 parking lot. Inside, the noise was about the worst I've encountered at a Chinese restaurant. I seem to recall that the original building was subdivided with a lower ceiling while now it's just one big space and whatever acoustical dampening that the large panels attached to the ceiling provide is negligible.
Carts and trays only and unlike the Sunnyvale location, there isn't a dim sum menu on the table from which you can make special orders.
The small round tables are a serious problem. Over six people were crammed in at some tables and the result was that the narrow aisles were blocked. Too often the cart ladies would just skip congested areas and the only way to get some items was to take the ticket and walk directly to a cart.
Quality was below average. Siu mai were small; cheung fun were sticky and gummy, the shrimps were big but not flavorful; char siu bao were a bit soft and mushy; chicken sticky rice in lotus leaf was dull; etc
What was surprising was the lack of selection and how few carts were circulating around the room. I've never had such a difficult time getting items at dim sum. No har gow at all. No daikon cake. It was as if the kitchen went into lulls and then whatever came out was snatched up quickly while other items just languished. In one of the glass sided carts I saw the same plate of stir fried clams again and again for over an hour.
As for the touted $1.99 small plate special, the only item we got that was a small were char siu bao. Plates that are priced as small at other places are mediums here and it seemed like everything was inflated in price. At over $40 for three with only modest leftovers, there's no value here.
Asian Pearl remains my choice in the area.
3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804