Before moving to the Bay Area, I'd never had Dim Sum. And since moving here, I can't quite seem to get enough.
This past weekend, a group of us headed to Hong Kong East Ocean restaurant in Emeryville, way down at the end of Powell where it dumps into the Marina. The wait was long (about 45 minutes; it was father's day), but the day was gorgeous and we were on the water, so no problem.
Now, I am completely a neophyte when it comes to dim sum. So I really, really don't know what's "great" and what's just "good". But this place strikes me as somewhere between the two.
First, a word on service: it's different. Here, there's a little paper menu, and you mark off the things you want. Then, there are "supplemental" carts with things like Chinese broccoli, BBQ pork buns, deep fried prawns, fish balls and chow fun plus some desserts.
What's nice is that everything gets to your table piping hot. The downside is you do have to wait a little longer between courses - but if you time it right, you can fill in with cart stuff.
To my palate, everything we had was delicious, fresh and a few things were just a little unique. We had a Garlic Pork that was incredible - came in a savory broth with literally 2 tablespoons of minced garlic. The Spicy Duck wasn't particularly spicy, but it was moist and tender. BBQ pork rice noodles were lip-smackingly delicious (their BBQ isn't overly sweet, unlike some places I've tried, so even BBQ pork buns aren't too heavy). Spareribs were just so-so... a slightly "off" smell, and the bone to meat ratio was way high (is this common?). Standard dumplings (Har Gow, Siu Mai, etc.) were very good - seafood seemed very fresh and fillings were good and light. The broccoli was incredible - crisp, tender, flavorful. I could have eaten a plateful.
Of course, we ended on a sweet note with Coconut Bean Paste (three HUGE squares of "pudding" that were gone in a split secong), Custard balls (wonderful for their light, donutty texture with rich, eggy custard inside), Sesame balls and Almond tofu (this was the only real "miss" - the fruit cocktail on top seemed like it was straight out of the Del Monte can, and was starting to turn. Our server actually took it off the bill, though, which was unexpected).
I would love to hear about other Hong Kong East Ocean experiences, or other tips for Dim Sum dining!