Dragon Gate - New Taiwanese Food Venue in Oakland
In case you missed it, the consistently reliable Luke Tsai had high praise for this new Cocktail Bar's Taiwanese food menu in his review of it for the East Bay Express.
I ventured there to check out the Taiwanese beef noodle soup; I'm no authority on this type of soup, but found it a truly remarkable and satisfying bowl of noodles. I actually ordered a fried tofu appetizer to go with it, but canceled the order when I saw how big the $9 (at lunchtime) bowl of soup was, rightly figuring the soup wouldn't leave me room for more.
I scanned the takeaway menu to give an idea of its breadth.
Taiwanese food mavens, go for the gusto!
Three of us had a fabulous dinner there on Friday. We ordered the three cup chicken, idiot noodle, chicken in rice wine pot, grilled okra. I think we had also ordered some dumplings but they never showed up and we were glad since the food quantities were pretty large. All of the food was very well made and my most memorable dish was the idiot noodles - like an exceedingly good interpretation of dan dan mien. The three cup chicken too was great. My friend really enjoyed the chicken in rice wine pot though I found it a tad bland. It reminded me of the medicinal chicken soups in korean cuisine. The grilled okra seemed almost japanese with bonito flakes and served with kewpie mayonnaise (or something very like it).
Overall great location (giant projection TV which is surprisingly not intrusive or blaring), and very very tasty food. Next time I'm getting a lot of beer!
Tried to have lunch here today. Walked in, was handed a menu and told to sit wherever I liked. That was my last human contact.
As far as I could tell, one person was staffing the entire front of the house--hostess, server, busser, cashier. She wasn't doing any of them well, or much at all.
Looked over the menu, sat, read the Chron, spent 15+ minutes waiting. There were a few other tables, and I saw people getting up to find the hostess/server/busser/cashier to get their check, pay or the like.
Eventually, I couldn't wait any longer, and got up to leave. When a lack of service is the reason I walk out of a restaurant, I make sure to let the restaurant know. To find the hostess/server/etc. at Dragon Gate I had to go all the way to the kitchen area. There literally was no one at the front of the house.
Dragon Gate may have good food, and I may try again; but I'll give it a few weeks to see if they hire staff and pull their stuff together.
Four of us had a very nice dinner here on Solstice Saturday. We arrived at 6 PM and were the only patrons, and they acceded to our request to turn the TV volume down (college baseball World Series!?!). By the time we left there were other tables occupied.
Service was very good. There were several waitresses. We brought in wine ($10 corkage) and our waitress suggested we order the assorted cold plate because it would go well with the wine. The cold plate had slices of five-spice tofu, pork tongue, anise beef, and jellied pig ear, all very good. There were mugs on the table but no tea was provided.
We had the stir-fried basil eggplant and the "three-cup" calamari. Both were fragrant and tasty, with lots of basil, though not much sauce.
The "idiot noodles" had a number of items, including basil, ground pork and cubes of crispy pork belly, but again no sauce, so not anything like dan dan mein.
We ordered two items from the very extensive skewer list: lamb kidney and pork cheeks. Both were perfectly cooked, but rather expensive: $4 and $5 for two skewers, each with four small pieces of meat.
We ordered the grilled "salt and pepper smelt" which was disappointing. Five fish (sauries) each impaled on a wooden skewer, rather dry. Fortunately there was a lemon wedge which helped.
Our general impression was that the cook was doing a very good job. The food was very flavorful -- I love basil and garlic -- but not overly spicy/hot except for one skewer that I ordered "spicy." Also no bowl of chili sauce on the tables.
The bill was about $75, including two bowls of rice and one corkage fee, no leftovers. That's rather expensive for a place in Chinatown but this was a cut above. Also it's not quite in Chinatown.
I had a really enjoyable meal here a few weeks ago - I'm pretty nominally Taiwanese and never thought I had particular cravings for Taiwanese food, but Dragon Gate satisfied cravings I didn't know I had. In particular, I keep thinking about the braised cubes of daikon in the beef noodle soup, (meltingly tender and saturated with spicy broth), and the dried radish pancake (a light, fluffy omelet studded with bits of pickled radish.)
We also really enjoyed the Taiwanese grilled sausages and oyster pancake (one of the better versions I've had, with crisped edges, fat fresh oysters, and a not too sweet, not too gloppy, slightly tomatoey-vinegary sauce). The three cup chicken flavor was great but our chicken pieces were very bony. Skewers were fine - we had chicken heart, gizzard, intestine, beef cheek and okra with bacon - I don't think I'd get them again.
Service was very brisk - next time I think we'll ask to have the dishes paced out a little more, since we got everything almost at once.