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why haven't i spent time in oakland's chinatown before? new gold medal, shanghai, and yuen hop noodle co.

augustiner Oct 8, 2010 04:54 AM

i barted over to oakland today to explore chinatown. it was a pretty blind tour, since my computer was down and i didn't know where i was going. walked around for a bit and almost hit up spices!3 and shandong restaurant before walking into new gold medal. i don't know why i ordered what i did. i really wanted roast duck wonton noodle soup, especially since the hanging meats at the front counter looked so enticing. but i ended up ordering...what i think was called on the menu "won mein crab soup." it got my attention. i ended up with a huge bowl of thickened soup with egg white flower floating amidst a negligible amount of crab meat. i think snow crab legs. came with wiry wonton noodles and a super generous scattering of minced yellow chives. i accidentally poured too much ground white pepper into the bowl. i wasn't that into it, but i think if i had stuck with my initial wish for roast duck wonton noodles, i would have a been a happy slurpee.

picked up some fresh noodles at yuen hop noodle co. as well as some pea shoots and steamed red bean buns, and nearly passed by shanghai. i was looking for it earlier. both new gold medal and shanghai restaurant have been talked over quite a bit, but not so much in the past few years, so hence this update. i just wanted to try the xlb. place was deserted when i got there, at about 4PM. luckily i have somehow managed to commit to memory the chinese characters for "shanghai" and "xiao long bao,"(or at least xiao long. or long, as in dragon?) because the english menu is a bit unclear. lots of "shanghai" style dumplings and buns.

the very sleepy man who was the lone person in the restaurant roused himself with some difficulty from his table to hand me two different menus. i found the xlb and ordered. he muttered, "it takes 10 minutes to steam them." i paused and offered, "that's just fine." then he stared at me and yawned, "they have pork." I paused again and said, "well...good. i...expect them to?" gruff service aside, i noted a man and woman in the corridor leading to the bathroon stuffing another type of dumpling, not the xlb. the kind that are boiled, i think...?

my order came and two or three of the eight (?) had no broth, but the rest did, and the flavor of the broth and meat stuffing was better than my last round of xlb at bund shanghai, which i find rather bland and one dimensional. porky without finesse. i don't know. i'm not quite there yet on having strong opinions about the thickness of the wrappers, etc. i am planning on returning to both shanghai and new gold medal, this time for the duck wonton noodles. can't figure why i've taken so long to go to oakland's chinatown. it's close to me, BART wise, and i don't have to abide the tourists on grant or the swarms on stockton.

the noodles i bought from yuen hop noodle co. were pretty tasty. no chemical ickyness. went well with a broth made from a smoked willie bird duck carcass and pea greens for dinner. and a bag of steamed red bean paste buns is taking me back to before i was even born. as in... well i adopted my mother's craving for them. like em better in donut form, if anyone has a suggestion for a good version!

all the threads i found about these places are fairly old. any other recent experiences?

Shanghai Restaurant
930 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

New Gold Medal
389 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

Yuen Hop
824 Webster St, Oakland, CA

  1. a
    abstractpoet Oct 8, 2010 02:26 PM

    Oakland Chinatown is great, but I've never been able to see the appeal of Shanghai. Everything I've eaten there (including and especially the XLB) has seemed really crudely prepared--none of the delicacy I associate with Shanghainese cuisine.

    On the other hand, while Shan Dong has its detractors on this board, if you like carbs and order correctly (noodles, buns, and dumplings), you can eat really well there for ridiculously cheap.

    My favorite duck wonton noodles are at Gum Wah.

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

    Gum Wah
    345 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

    8 Replies
    1. re: abstractpoet
      klyeoh Oct 10, 2010 11:11 PM

      Agreed - Shanghai's probably got some of the ugliest XLB I'd ever seen. But the local Chinese seemed to swear by their braised pork leg. The hot-and-sour Sichuan soup was okay, and I quite enjoyed their crispy eel (with vinegar dressing, topped with finely-julienned ginger strips). Some photos to share from my last visit there.

      1. re: klyeoh
        daveena Oct 11, 2010 09:51 AM

        Shanghai's actually gone way downhill since the last time you were there - I actually liked the rough hominess of the food back then, but every meal I've had in the last 6 months has been mediocre to bad. I think the rice cakes with pork and zha cai are the only thing left that I'll still order there - the texture's gummier than before, but nobody else in Chinatown makes that dish. My sources tell me there was an ownership change sometime in the past year.

        1. re: daveena
          klyeoh Oct 11, 2010 06:08 PM

          That's bad news indeed.

          1. re: klyeoh
            yimster Oct 12, 2010 08:11 PM

            The former owners now have a higher end place in on 25th Ave in San Mateo. Shanghai East. Was there in Jan of this year and it was still good. But there are lots of great Shanghai food in the west bay now. Old Shanghai was really good and folky before.

            Shanghai East Restaurant
            105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

            1. re: yimster
              klyeoh Oct 13, 2010 01:55 AM

              Thanks, now THAT is good news :-)

              1. re: yimster
                bbulkow Oct 30, 2010 11:21 PM

                Shanghai East (aka Shanghai Feast) has been around for a long time - are you saying the place changed hands this year? All the staff seems the same.

                Shanghai Feast stands in the shadow of Little Shanghai a hop-skip away, but I like the hominess of SE. Last time I was in for takeout, the restaurant was empty and the kitchen had 6 people.

                Shanghai East Restaurant
                105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

                Little Shanghai
                17 E 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

                1. re: bbulkow
                  yimster Oct 31, 2010 12:24 AM

                  No, it the same owner and staff were the same the last time I was there. Will have to go again someday soon.

        2. re: abstractpoet
          Robert Lauriston Oct 11, 2010 08:52 AM

          If the place has changed hands, I guess my past reviews are out of date. Sad.

        3. s
          shanghaikid Oct 8, 2010 08:43 PM

          yuen hop used to be a food distributor. their forte was the noodles and wonton/egg roll wrappers that they self-manufactured. though their distribution has shrunk. i believe they still make their own noodles offsite.

          cafe 88 (388 9th st) has the best roast duck, char siu in oaktown. their standard is equivalent to that of hong kong's. service at the deli is horrible. chinese ladies think nothing of cutting in front of people . the single guy (chopper/cashier) doesn't "know" who really is next.
          -a bonus here is the leftover dimsum from peony upstairs get sold at a deep discount here late in the afternoon. (3-4). also at the same time, there is a daily special at the counter (4ish) neither lasts very long.

          2 Replies
          1. re: shanghaikid
            augustiner Oct 10, 2010 02:42 PM

            i've been known to cut in line when the occasion calls for it. thanks for the tip, plan on trekking to oakland again soon.

            1. re: shanghaikid
              daveena Oct 11, 2010 09:47 AM

              I've started calling in my lunch order ahead of time, because they usually have an English speaking employee working the phone. People still cut in front of me while I'm on line in for the register, but it's way better trying to order when it's just the one guy taking orders and filling them.

            2. daveena Oct 11, 2010 10:10 AM

              Yuen Hop is a gold mine - I love the fresh noodles and all the different variations of dumpling wrappers (btw, their round, thick wrappers are the only purchased wrappers I've ever used that work really well for ravioli, b/c of that lack of chemical ickiness you noted).

              I also like T&S Poultry for chicken and super cheap duck legs, Khang Phong at 429 9th Street for Thai and Vietnamese ingredients, and Surf & Turf at 702 Webster for fresh fish they'll kill and clean for you.

              Gum Wah still has my go-to duck noodle soup, Pho Hoa Lao for pho bo kho (it's a little inconsistent - some days, the beef is tough and stringy, on others, it's nearly pudding-like in tenderness), BC Deli for banh mi, bot chien triew chau, and pandan waffles, Shang Dong for the pork & veg bun and hand cut noodles (I like it with pork and preserved vegetable), Napolean Bakery for egg tarts and sponge cake.

              Pho Hoa Lao
              333 10th St, Oakland, CA 94607

              Gum Wah
              345 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

              Yuen Hop
              824 Webster St, Oakland, CA

              5 Replies
              1. re: daveena
                kc72 Oct 11, 2010 11:24 AM

                Funny.. I hit up Yuen Hop for the fresh bahn cuon(sp?) and BC for banh mi today. I would have hit up Szechwan for the sticky rice roll also, but they weren't open yet and I had no time to wait.

                Yuen Hop
                824 Webster St, Oakland, CA

                1. re: daveena
                  oniontears Oct 13, 2010 01:56 AM

                  I'm thrilled about this thread! I'm new to the area, and took a run down to Chinatown from Temescal the other day to pick up fresh rice noodles at Yuen Hop for my pad see ew. I was curious about the down home looking pho shops and was wondering if Shanghai is the only place with XLB in Oakland Chinatown.

                  Does anyone know if any of the bakeries have good po tat/pastel de nata?

                  Yuen Hop
                  824 Webster St, Oakland, CA

                  1. re: oniontears
                    daveena Oct 13, 2010 07:12 AM

                    I haven't seen XLB anywhere else but Shanghai in Chinatown.

                    For pho, I like the #9 at Pho Hoa Lao (tendon, brisket, rare flank) - their broth is also a little inconsistent, but it's usually good. The Vietnamese delis (Cam Huong, BC Deli, Ba Le) are worth trying for their bun rieu, bun bo hue, and banh cuon gio heo. They rely a bit more on MSG, I think, but I usually enjoy the soups anyway. People seem to love Vien Huong (it can be hard to get a seat in there if you don't get there by 12:15), but I haven't really liked any of the soup noodles I've had there, including the cha jew noodle - way, way too much raw garlic flavor for me.

                    While a lot of bakeries carry dan tat, I think only Napolean has pastel de nata.

                    Pho Hoa Lao Restaurant
                    720 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

                    Vien Huong
                    712 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94607

                  2. re: daveena
                    wokwok Dec 2, 2010 05:18 PM

                    Does anyone know where to get a Thai stick rice steamer in Oakland? I've been to four or five grocery stores/kitchen ware stores and haven't seen one. I've mostly gone to the Vietnamese/Thai markets over in East Oakland, has anyone seen this in Chinatown? Or anywhere? I need sticky rice!

                    1. re: wokwok
                      daveena Dec 2, 2010 05:41 PM

                      While I was googling "Thai sticky rice steamer" to find out what one looks like, I found this old thread:

                      Also, apparently you can order them from Amazon.com.

                  3. Eugene Park Oct 13, 2010 11:44 PM

                    NGM is still my go-to for their oysters & roast pork clay pot. The gravy they use is basically liquid crack, it's so good. Oysters, roast pork, tofu, mushrooms, whole garlic cloves and that ridiculously tasty gravy.......sinfully delicious. The NGM chow mein with panfried noodles is also a must order. Dry fried beef chow fun is also one of the better versions you'll find anywhere, including Hong Kong.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Eugene Park
                      gordon wing Oct 30, 2010 06:43 PM

                      Had lunch at NGM today - enjoyed the roast pig, snow pea leaves and singapore chow fun. The chow fun and the snow pea leaves were nicely cooked - not at all oily. The curry flavor in the chow fun was refined but still enjoyable. The roast pig had a nice crispy skin and the meat was pretty lean and well seasoned. Service was very good. It was only moderately busy but we got in about 11:10am A freshly roasted pig came out just after we sat down.

                      1. re: gordon wing
                        Mission Oct 31, 2010 09:53 AM

                        Who in Oakland has the best Chinese Coconut cocktail Buns?

                        Last time I was in O.C.T. I bought a dozen for $3.
                        They froze very well and were revived with a quick trip in the Microwave.

                        I think they froze well because they are loaded with fat and sugar. :)

                        Can anyone recommend their favorite purveyor of the Chinese Coconut Bun?

                        1. re: Mission
                          Ruth Lafler Oct 31, 2010 11:33 AM

                          I haven't done a comparative study of Coconut buns, but Ruby King is reliably good for baked goods.

                          1. re: Mission
                            shanghaikid Oct 31, 2010 04:06 PM

                            napolean up the block usually has lines. no doubt cuz of price. quality is pretty good .

                            1. re: shanghaikid
                              yimster Oct 31, 2010 07:13 PM

                              I will second Napolean as it is my choice for baked goods both in Oakland and San Francisco. I like the shop in Oakland a little better in that the meat filling in Oakland seems a little larger there. But I am close to SF.

                              In the day before I like Napolean as much I like Wonder on I think 9th is Oakland. But the dim sum at Napolean has not been as good recently. But I not eating much dim sum anymore.

                        2. re: Eugene Park
                          ML8000 Oct 31, 2010 05:37 PM

                          The beef chow fun (dry) and chow mein at NGM are excellent. Those two items are my go to if I'm there and not sure what to get or what I want.

                          If you haggle/convince the waitstaff, they'll do stuff to order. I was there with some family and asked about tomato beef chow mein withOUT ketchup, sugar or day-glo sauce and instead with just tomatoes, onions, green bell peppers and black beans (Chicago style)...sort of like a pomodoro. They said it was weird but they did it any way. It was very good all things considered.

                          1. re: ML8000
                            Eugene Park Nov 1, 2010 04:08 PM

                            Sounds like they didn't have to improvise too greatly. They do a very solid Beef with Black Bean Sauce chow fun, which comes with onions and green bell peppers. Swap the chow fun for chow mein noodles, add in the tomatoes component, and voila!!

                        3. daveena Dec 2, 2010 06:07 PM

                          I'm cautiously calling an uphill alert on Spices 3 - I'd stopped going for a while because everything was too salty and one-dimensional (everything seemed to come in the same salty, oily red sauce tasting of canned garlic and red chilis, with very little ma la) but decided to give it another try recently.

                          On my first shot, I ordered a liang pi dish, and a cold shredded tofu dish. Both were excessively salty, but once I cut the liang pi dish with an equal amount of shredded raw cucumber, and the tofu dish with an equivalent amount of shredded raw celery, I found the flavors much more interesting and varied than in the past. The two had distinctly different sauces, and the ma la was as much a part of the heat as the red chilis.

                          I recently returned for lunch - they have a really good lunch deal, a buy 3 get 1 free on rice plates that averages out to $4.88 per plate for a generous portion of food. Their rice plate deals lean more Chinese-American, but have a decent selection of straight up Chinese as well - I chose a spicy shredded pork dish, a spicy eggplant, a braised tofu, and a General Tso's chicken, and specified "not too salty". They did an exceptional job at getting the food out fast, too - if you have a largish group for lunch and limited time, this place is an excellent option.

                          Everything was pretty good - the eggplant was expertly fried and had a luxuriously silky texture, the General Tso's chicken was a huge mound of chicken and peanuts with no extraneous vegetables, the pork dish came with an equal volume of sliced jalapenos but was tender and flavorful in its own right, and the tofu was a welcome respite from the heat of the other dishes.

                          I don't have the menu with me right now, but I remember looking at it and thinking there were a lot more interesting items than in the past - will try to look them up tomorrow and post when I get a chance.

                          Spices 3
                          369 12th St, Oakland, CA 94607

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: daveena
                            Robert Lauriston Apr 9, 2011 10:09 AM

                            Spices 3 was dead last night (Friday) at 10:15, not sure if there was only one customer or if that was an owner / employee having his dinner.

                            Spices 3
                            369 12th St, Oakland, CA 94607

                          2. Robert Lauriston Apr 9, 2011 10:07 AM

                            Went to New Gold Medal last night, ordered shredded pork with preserved vegetable, which I thought was a dish I knew, but instead got something I haven't had before. The pork was cut in thin square-cross-sectioned strips, velveted, and fried with a lot of onions and a small amount of a bland salted vegetable (turnip? nappa?) both cut similarly. The onions were only slightly cooked, still had a bit of crunch. It was sweet and sour, but not very sweet and much of that came from the onions, and decidedly vinegary, though balanced. Overall it reminded me of Chef Yu's gampoongi. Anybody have a clue what this was?

                            We also had west lake beef soup, dry-fried string beans with pork (and dried shrimp), and pea leaf with garlic sauce. Most of the tables with Chinese customers had some other green, didn't look familiar, looked like mostly stems. What's in season now?

                            New Gold Medal
                            389 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

                            18 Replies
                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              dordogne Apr 9, 2011 11:40 AM

                              Greens could have been pea sprouts, which I had there about a month ago--excellent with lots of garlic. Perhaps ong choy?

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                daveena Apr 21, 2011 06:29 PM

                                This sounds similar to something I grew up eating - slivers of pork and bamboo shoot, with preserved vegetable (either xue cai, a kind of cabbage, or zha cai, a mustard tuber or stalk). I've mostly had it with rice cakes, or in noodle soup, haven't had it with lots of onions before. Which dish were you expecting?

                                1. re: daveena
                                  Robert Lauriston Apr 21, 2011 07:15 PM

                                  I was expecting a lot of zha cai. If there was any in there it was unusually bland and overpowered by the onions.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    daveena Apr 22, 2011 12:33 PM

                                    I checked my takeout menu - the Chinese description definitely says "zha cai" - I think they might have assumed you wouldn't like it and altered the dish.

                                    Now I want to go and order it and see what they give me...

                                    1. re: daveena
                                      chocolatetartguy Apr 22, 2011 04:13 PM

                                      As an ABC, that doesn't happen to me, but I suppose they might alter the dish.

                                      They make a flavorful version of it at China Village.

                                      1. re: daveena
                                        daveena Jul 15, 2011 06:11 PM

                                        Aw, I forgot to upload my pic of this dish from my phone and lost it during a hard reset. Mine had tons of zha cai, not a lot of onion. I think you got a gringo-ized version.

                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    klyeoh Apr 21, 2011 09:30 PM

                                    Those greens - were they gai lan stems?

                                    1. re: klyeoh
                                      Robert Lauriston Apr 22, 2011 10:45 AM

                                      No, I think they were ong choy. They just weren't as big or dark green as I'm used to.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        yimster Apr 22, 2011 03:15 PM

                                        One of the other names for ong choy in is something the hollow core vegetable. If the core was hollow then without a doubt it was ong choy.

                                        1. re: yimster
                                          Robert Lauriston Apr 22, 2011 03:23 PM

                                          I just saw it from across the room, couldn't say for sure. But there are some pictures of ong choy on the Web that look the same.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                            yimster Apr 22, 2011 06:22 PM

                                            OK, one last question. Were the stalks all the diameter of a #2 pencil or if they were of many diameters lager than that. If there were all of the same diameter then mostly likely it's ong choy.

                                            1. re: yimster
                                              Robert Lauriston Apr 22, 2011 06:59 PM

                                              I'm sure it was ong choy. They looked like this:


                                              I'm used to it looking more like this:


                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                                yimster Apr 23, 2011 10:37 AM

                                                At this time of the year my stir fry vegetable of choice when eating out or at home is

                                                Pea Sprouts

                                                Ong Choy

                                                Green Beans or Sugar or Snap Pea

                                                Closing distance four it Gia Lan.

                                          2. re: yimster
                                            dordogne Apr 22, 2011 07:58 PM

                                            Ong choy is also called water spinach (it grows in water or swampy soil) and has hollow stems.

                                            1. re: dordogne
                                              klyeoh Apr 22, 2011 10:24 PM

                                              Or "kangkong" in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore & Sri Lanka.

                                              1. re: klyeoh
                                                Robert Lauriston Apr 23, 2011 10:48 AM

                                                Yeah, I've had it as kang kung. As shown in the photos I linked to above, it's typically darker green at Malaysian places, which is what threw me off.

                                                1. re: klyeoh
                                                  chefj Apr 23, 2011 10:49 AM

                                                  add Indonesia to that list.

                                                2. re: dordogne
                                                  wolfe Apr 23, 2011 10:54 AM

                                                  Essential tool for proper preparation of water spinach.
                                                  Dao chẻ rau muống

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