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Oct 1, 2012 02:30 PM

New Idea Restaurant — Oakland Chinatown

I just had lunch at New Idea Restaurant on 9th in Oakland's Chinatown. I just had a mess of Singapore rice noodles, which was very good and a generous serving. They are doing a big dim sum business, but I passed on that, as I was alone and a serving of one item is too large. It looks like a good possibility for a group of three or more, though.

I'm guessing the "new idea" is a clean, freshly painted dining room with well-dressed, friendly servers. I like that, although I'm no stranger to dives, and I'll be going back.

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  1. guess their dim sum has improved since last year when they opened.
    all items then were priced the same (2.48)
    tried shrimp cheung, wrapped glutinuous rice chicken, har gow.
    lots of msg, shrimp crunchy, meat tasteless......

    6 Replies
    1. re: shanghaikid

      That's interesting. I'd prefer to avoid msg myself, as I try to moderate my sodium intake. Do yoy know how prevalent the use of msg is in Oakland's Chinatown? For a long time it has not been unusual for restaurants to advertise that they do not use it.

      1. re: GH1618

        every dim sum place in oakland, alameda, emeryville, san leandro, milpitas, millbrae, el cerrito, richmond, etc. uses a lot of msg.

        restaurants that advertise no msg use may be using a chicken bouillion/extract/powder which is mostly made of msg with chicken flavoring.

        yank sing in s.f. doesn't use msg.

        1. re: shanghaikid

          they don't make hong kong/cantonese dim sum, but very good xiao long bao : Shang Hai Bund in SF, abstains from the m.s.g. and the taste in many of the dishes is immensely better.

          1. re: moto

            By "they" do you mean New Idea or Yank Sing?

            1. re: GH1618

              shanghai bund.
              yep, didn't notice the msg at shanghai bund. . xlb's and shanghai cooking are notorious for msg use also.

      2. re: shanghaikid

        I also tried dim sum here when it opened. A number of items were actually cold in the middle. I haven't been back.

      3. Everyone: Yes, the dimsun here is not really very good. BUT the Cantonese cooking is another matter -- quite good (at very good prices and good-sized servings). Take it from an old "China Hand."

        10 Replies
        1. re: blakeleybb

          was wondering how they bring in the biz with the lackluster dim sum. must be 2 different chefs and the owners' decision to skimp on the dim sum and not the regular menu.

          1. re: shanghaikid

            On the contrary, I suspect that it is the chef (probably owner) does it himself. Larger places would have a dimsum specialist

            1. re: blakeleybb

              I'm convinced they buy the dimsum from an outside supplier and heat it up in the kitchen. They get business because the prices are super-low.

              1. re: daveena

                am inclined to agree. dim sum may even be a loss leader. ...but i don't have facts to back this up.

                1. re: shanghaikid

                  Not sure about here, but in Hong Kong a Cantonese restaurant owner told me lunch (dim sum, Cantonese deli, etc.) hardly makes any money; it's all dinner that brings in $$.

                  1. re: vincentlo

                    Interesting. But here, I wonder. I suspect it depends on location. The business of so many Chinese restaurants seems to be mid-day rather than dinner.

                    1. re: blakeleybb

                      it also depends on the business model. chinese eateries focusing on cheaper lunch offerings will be buying cheaper (and lower quality) ingredients than those offering dinner options.
                      example: oyster sauce: brand x (generic) for lunch,"panda" brand for dinner.

                2. re: daveena

                  Are their prices as low as Legendary Palace's ($2 for all dim sum on weekdays except for specials)? While the dim sum at Legendary Palace is certainly not legendary, I think it's the best in Oakland Chinatown. For a big step up, just head to East Ocean in Alameda, which is not too far off (easier and free parking too!).

                  1. re: vincentlo

                    I haven't been to East Ocean (it's on my "to try" list, though). How would you compare it to other Cantonese placaes in the area?
                    The dimsun at Asian Pearl (Pacific East Mall, Richmond) is not bad. That at Saigon (on the left, just before you reach the mall) is quite good (as is their dinner menu [Cantonese, esp. seafood], albeit both a bit pricier than most).

                    1. re: blakeleybb

                      fyi, LIdo seafood restaurant (newark), part of the saigon group, looks ready to open with a month or two.

          2. Pretty sure.. new owners since beginning of October. Owners also own Chopstick Restaurant on 14th.

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