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Restaurants & Bars 6

Alameda dim sum - watch out Oakland

BudgetBerkeleyite | Jun 4, 200602:44 AM

There is so much to dislike about weekend dim sum in Oakland. Parking, crowds, erratic service and selection (yes that's you Peony).

But there are competitive alternatives onlyafter a short trip through the tube into Alameda.

East Ocean (not to be confused with the overpriced indifferent restaurant on the bay in Emeryville) is a solid choice, particularly after its expansion and remodel. Well spaced tables, carts, responsive waitstaff, and polished surroundings makes it a safe choice.

But close by is the new Chef's Wok (its Chinese name is something else that I can't translate with my small dictionary) in a space that must have been a dancehall when the naval base was still active. I once went to a Laos or Cambodian restaurant that was in this space. You can definitely tell that this is an old wood framed building with lots of nicks and thick layers of paint.

The front room is dominated by large tables so most of the four tops are in the enormous back room that is still has that ghastly cloud mural on the ceiling. But what about the food?

Flavorwise exceptional, but not "structurally" the best (some things fell apart) There is a laminated menu (with prices) on every table so if you don't find what you want from the carts or runners in a timely fashion, just flag down someone and put in an order. Prices are very good, starting from $2 for a small and up to $3.20 for a large. Most are small or medium ($2.60).

I won't get into everything, but the Chow Chiu / Teo Chow / etc etc fun goh (called #2, steamed shrimp and pork dumping) was very good. A translucent and chewy wrapper and a crunchy, slightly spicy filling that is so much better than the norm around here and reminded me of the real thing that I've had in Shantou. The nouvelle stuff I tried (like scallop and spinach, a medium plate) were also tasty.

And if you're sick of the expensive plates of mein and fun to go along with the dim sum, the prices are low here. Most are less than $7. We ordered a $6 bowl of jook that gave two bowls each for four that included a very generous amount of shrimp, strips of roast duck, and jellyfish.

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