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Jan 16, 2013 08:49 AM

Best / new dim sum in Oakland & surrounds?

Legendary Palace reportedly changed hands and has gone downhill.

Old Place Seafood closed.

I went to East Ocean Seafood in Alameda a couple of weeks ago and the kitchen seemed off its game, some items were underseasoned or otherwise bland compared with previous visits. One time's not enough to write them off but I do want to check the competition.

Hong Kong East Ocean in Emeryville is reliable if not exceptional, maybe relatively expensive.

Where else is good these days? Any new places? I don't really want to go south of Oakland, if I'm going that far I'll BART into the City.

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  1. Gourmet Delight Seafood on Webster was decent, though the parking in the area is terrible, though you could just park in the plaza if you don't mind walking a few blocks.

    2 Replies
      1. re: nicedragonboy

        I tried almost all of the Oakland Chinatown Chinese restaurants in 2011 and 2012 before I moved out of the area. I once walked in solo to have dim sum at Gourmet Delight, and someone told me they actually had a parking lot for customers! The dim sum was OK, certainly not at the same level as East Ocean in Alameda. But same for their prices. ;-)

      2. Chinese food has been sliding downhill for decades in the Bay Area, stigmatized into the "cheap eats" category. Dim sum is even faltering in the Peninsula area (we have relatives who have lived there for decades).

        The best we've been to is Lee Gardens Seafood in Pleasanton. All the local Chinese eat there; it's almost as good and half as costly as Yank Sing, making it by far the better value. (Sometimes I really regret that my in-laws refused to give up my husband to Yank Sing's founder to adopt; she thought he was such a handsome boy and offered to adopt him but they refused her. DUMMIES!)

        A more typical dim sum place is Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant, on Pierce St. on the way into the 99 Ranch Mall in Richmond, off Hwy 880/Center Street exit. The service sucks; stay away from the xiao lum bao which are terrible; but most of the standards are decently done. The one thing they do REALLY well is the roast duck. We drive all the way from the Oakland hills/Mills College area to buy those ducks! Far better than any of the Oakland Chinatown places.

        Daimo, in the 99 Ranch mall, does a nice rendition of the lo bak ko, fried turnip cake; and their deli roast pork was soft and juicy instead of overcooked and chewy. But nothing else was remarkable.

        Asian Pearl, inside the mall, we thought was terrible, but some people on Yelp seem to like it.

        8 Replies
        1. re: jaiko

          If you are going all the way to Pleasanton then Koi Palace in Dublin is better than Lee Garden, and not much more expensive.

          We also like Asian Pearl, but have not been for awhile.

          1. re: jaiko

            We have always found the service at Saigon Seafood to be excellent - but we liked the roast duck at Daimo more than Saigon's.

            1. re: Sarah

              Wanted to give another "shout out" for the service at Saigon Seafood. Have always had great service there; once when the rice rolls came around and I asked what kind they had (shrimp, char siu, etc.) but they didn't have beef. Said it would come around eventually, so we went back to eating what was on our table. A few minutes later, a server brought over a plate of rice rolls filled with beef - that was great!

              One other story that isn't quite so much about the service but the quickness. Younger son is quite impatient (not sure who he gets that from, ahem...) and when the four of us walked into the restaurant when it opened on a Sat morning, he grumbled that it would take awhile to get food.

              As we walked up to our table, there were two carts nearby. I asked and received about 4-5 plates/baskets of food, so the boys were able to eat as soon as they sat down! Younger son was quite happy about this.

            2. re: jaiko

              I'd disagree about Chinese food sliding downhill generally. Cantonese food maybe. But there's been a proliferation of Sichuan, Shanghai and other regional Chinese restaurants that simply didn't exist 15 years ago.

              1. re: jaiko

                "chinese food has been sliding downhill."
                it's a market driven phenomenon. cantonese eateries offering 3 for deals are doing better (financially) than most other purveyors of chinese food. patrons care more about price than taste.

                cooking papa is an exception but too capital intensive for most restauranteurs to undertake.

                1. re: jaiko

                  I'm not sure about downhill generally. Places come and go and change hands.

                  At the high end I miss Harbor Village but I haven't tried Hakasan or MY China yet and Yank Sing's as good as ever (which means high prices so some people still hate it).

                  At the low end, I doubt there's anyplace near here that's as dreadful as Jade Villa used to be.

                  1. re: jaiko

                    I can't speak to their dim sum, but I have now been to two dinner banquets at Lee Garden Seafood in Pleasanton in the past year, and have been satisfied both times. The most recent dinner was a few weeks ago, a family event that I hosted as a birthday/college graduation/going away for my son (he is headed to grad school on the east coast). I chose Lee Garden on the strength of the prior dinner I had attended there, and because the location worked well for family members coming from all over Northern and Central California (more central for our group than my current town of Merced, not that Merced has any Chinese restaurants I'd consider hosting a dinner at!).

                    Lots of favorable comments on the food this last members particularly liked a pumpkin/seafood soup; deep fried sole (some of the lightest batter I've ever tasted, not a speck of grease); chinese brocolli with a chopped garlic/spices mixture served on the side to be applied to taste; really nice walnut prawns; the house special steamed chicken; and roast duck. Service was great: they were very helpful and responsive to my unusual dietary requirements (what can I say, I have a diverse family :-)) in setting up the menu, and also great at handling service during the dinner. They didn't even charge me corkage (stepmom with a great cellar brought about six or seven bottles, and I fully expected to pay. That's ok, I gave much of it back by adding to the ridiculously low (IMO, for the level of service) 15% mandatory tip included in the bill. Bottom line: total cost per person including some beers, soft drinks, generous tip and tax was about $31, and we had WAAYYY too much food (leftovers were packaged by the staff for distribution among the family). I would happily consider them again for a similar event.

                    1. re: jaiko

                      Lee Gardens is good if you live in the tri-valley area, but it's not a destination if you're closer to the Bay. Most of the management staff came from Peony in Oakland.

                      I would choose Saigon Seafood Harbor over Hong Kong East Ocean. The only difference is the price and view. The only drawback at Saigon is the noise level.

                    2. I have to agree that East Ocean was not up to snuff the last time I went a few months back. Enough so that I'm in no hurry to go back. Interesting to hear that you have a similar more recent impression. Peony as well. I never thought LP was very good. I have no recs except to head to the city.

                      1. I like dim sum at King Tsin on Solano. Their dim sum chef used to work at Koi Palace. And they serve it all day.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: hungree

                          I'd wondered if they actually make it there.

                          1. re: Glencora

                            in the olde days, it was made there.
                            not sure about the current generation.

                        2. Lido's saigon seafood in newark was a huge disappointment.
                          -pricing very high, most items rated medium or large. only buns rated small
                          -2 carts only. not much selection.
                          -dim sum quality below other saigon's, asian pearl, mayflower,....
                          -dim sum came out slow. service very good.

                          heartell golden sand harbor in dublin cheap, haven't tried.
                          yep, that place in pleasanton (lee's?) is surprisingly acceptable.