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Dim sum price war in Oakland Chinatown

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Dim sum price war in Oakland Chinatown

Ruth Lafler | Feb 17, 2004 08:59 PM

I got off work early today and headed into Oakland Chinatown for dim sum at Joy Luck, which is still running the $1.68/any size "grand opening" special we reported on a while back. But as I was walking by the place next door I saw it was jammed with happy-looking people eating dim sum from circulating carts. On the window was a large sign completely in Chinese except for the number 1.50. From the crowd and the location next to Joy Luck, I speculated that they were offering 1.50 dim sum and decided to check it out. The first thing I grabbed off the cart was a plate of shrimp rice noodles, usually considered a "large plate," but marked as a small, confirming that all plates were the same price (which was indeed 1.50).

So it was cheap. But was it any good?

The answer: it was good, serviceable dim sum. Not as refined as a high-end dim sum house, and not a huge or exotic selection, but everything was fresh and tasty, without excessive MSG, cornstarch or oil.

Tea is 50 cents/person, but you have a choice of black, green, jasmine or chrysanthemum (at least according to the menu -- I was not offered a choice so you probably have to ask). One dish I selected was a "chef special" which are apparently $3.50/plate (I'm not sure, the bill wasn't itemized so I had to reverse engineer it).

These prices are a substantial discount off the menu prices, and I have no idea how long they will be in effect.

Service was above average for this class of restaurant: the manager was busy working the floor and the waitstaff was helpful and attentive. The cart ladies were patient and friendly. When I peeked into the kitchen on the way back from the restroom, the chef smiled and greeted me cheerfully -- overall a very friendly vibe.

Anyone know anything about the regular menu here? Appears to be basic Cantonese seafood (including live stuff from tanks), with a notable lack of American Chinese dishes.

Yo Ho Restaurant
337 8th St. (between Webster and Harrison)
510-268-0233

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