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Chowhound dim sum at Legendary Palace, Oakland (long)

Nathan Landau | Nov 30, 200207:37 PM

It falls to me--the least experienced dim sum or yum chai eater--to report on a Chowhound meal at the new Legendary Palace in Oakland. I'm sure at least some of my five fellow dinners will want to revise, amend, and correct my remarks. Overall, the meal was a very good experience--we'd reccomend the place highly.

Legendary Palace is a large new (it opened less than a week ago), two story restaurant in an old building in Oakland Chinatown. Photos on the outside the wall of the restaurant displayed a fifteen (!) wok cooking station. The building was built (by a caucasian owner) in 1927 in a style one might call Chinoiserie, the building had been largely vacant for years until the arrival of the restaurant. Inside there's little trace of the history--the place has a pleasant but standard appearance.

The restaurant was mobbed, as dim sum places often are on weekend mornings. Our wait was almost an hour and a half (!), giving us time to stroll around Chinatown while Lambert Yim pointed out favorite cheap eateries, places to buy barbecue etc. Ruth Lafler took the opportunity to buy some house-made sausage at a butcher shop, which had a good texture but was a little bland. The wait for a table was long but fairly handled but an efficient reception staff.

Eventually the six of us got seated and worked our way through a massive array of dishes. I can't supply the Chinese names, and I won't be reporting them in order. We mostly got the circulating dim sum but Lambert also ordered some things, most notably a juicy soft-shelled crab for each of us. We also had:
Seaweed with Jellyfish; Steamed shrimp rolls (faulted for not being juicy enough and for the skin not sticking to the filling); soft turnip cake (noted as having a soft texture, but one which hardened up after a bit); chives and shrimp (a favorite of mine), stuffed eggplant, excellent spicy fried squid, stuffed mushroom, birds nest fried taro (credited with not being unduly starchy); well-received chicken feet; excellent crisp bean curd skin roll; roast pork--notable for its accompanying soybeans in five spice sauce; spare rib in black bean sauce; and nicely steamed Chinese broccoli to give the illusion of balance. We washed it all down with free tea--a grand opening special. Legendary Palace has an actual tea menu--we got a special blend of strong Pu Erh tea (known for the cutting the grease of dim sum!) and more delicate Chrysanthemum.

Derek and Ruth were on the "dim sum civil war" selection team, for which they went to 17 (!) different places in the South and West Bay. They and Lambert felt that Legendary Place compared favorably with the top tier of places and was consistently strong, which I'd agree with. So Oakland Chinatown has another dim sum "palace" to join the ranks of Peony and Jade Villa.

Amazingly, the tab for all this came to only $100 with taxes (before tip). So we absolutely stuffed ourselves for $20 apiece. Dishes started as low as $1.90, very cheap by current dim sum standards.

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