I went over a lot of old threads when I first moved here, and read several mentions of this place, including Psmith's first post a year ago. Qingdao Garden sounded really good, and the praise for their dumplings seemed consistent with its name -- Qingdao is in the Shandong province that's known for superb shui jiao / "water" dumplings.
So when I read tanspace's post on a Shandong place in Oakland, CA, I developed a craving and decided to head over to Qingdao. (It seemed easier to get to than Wang's.)
The three delight dumplings were filled with soft crunchy leeks, savory minced pork, and delicious chunks of clean fresh-tasting shrimp. Very tasty! The skin also had a fairly good, firm texture which I enjoyed, even though it would have been better if there was a tiny hint more of elasticity in the skin.
I somehow got fixated on the Zhongqing Fried Hot Chicken that the polite waiter recommended. Zhongqing is next to Sichuan, so quite a distance west from Shandong, but the dish was excellent in a homey sort of way. On a generous plate were bite-sized pieces of fried chicken thigh lightly battered and deeply fried. There was a sprinkle of sesame seeds for fragrance and then a sparing coat of a truly satisfying sweet, spicy sauce with garlic pungence and full of a deep smokiness from appropriately ample pile of dried red chillis.
I'm looking at the take-out menu now and it seems that they offer several Sichuan and Shanghainese dishes, in addition to the basic Shandong specialities such as the dumplings, and things in the "Pastry" section as well as the noodles.
I'm linking tanspace's informative post below, because he goes quite a bit into his native Shandong cuisine.
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