At the entrance there are tanks of live fish and a section with bbq ducks and meat hanging over a counter. Dim sum carts roll by replenished by runners from the kitchen adding bamboo baskets of steamed dumplings and buns.
The portions were generous and the food well-prepared. For $31.22 (with tax) I had
- Shrimp and peppers
- Clams in black bean sauce
- Shanghai dumplings
- Braised greens topped with fresh sliced ginger and mushrooms
- Steamed buns filled with egg custard
- House tea
I always thought I didn't like duck. Maybe I've never had good duck before. A dish that caught my eye and I thought was pork turned out to be duck ... and what duck it was ... crispy skin on a lovely layer of fat and silky meat covered with delicious sauce. The duck was on top of small slightly sweet beans.
The greens were fabulous as well ... bright green and in a broth they were a gingery goodness.
Another thing that usually underwhelms me is steamed buns. However, they looked so good with a pink dot on top and a few yellow dots here and there. Inside was one of the best custards I've ever had ... warm, sweet but deeply yellow it was not far from pure rich egg yolk.
A big bowl of clams had a nice sauce and onions and red and green peppers. The shrimp and Shanghai dumplings were also good.
I went on opening day and while some dishes such as the excellent sesame balls impressed me, there was so much wrong on that first visit I thought I'd never return.
Then I read that they changed the manager and worked out the opening kinks so I thought I'd give them another try ... after all the food was tasty for the most part on my first visit and the prices were good.
The staff is really working it now. The new manager is on top of everything. Ordering from carts is better than ordering from a menu. So many tasty things went by but I was too stuffed. All of the staff speaks English now and everyone was efficient and helpful. It's a busy place but at noon there were still some empty tables. By 1 when I left, the restaurant was full.
There is plenty of parking also.
I'm no dim sum expert, so you can take this FWIW
I'm looking forward to going back. My husband never had dim sum so I think he'd love it for his birthday in a few weeks.
King Valley Tea House
795 Fernandez Ave, Pinole, CA 94564