Fourteen of us squeezed around a table for twelve at Shan Dong for a Northern Chinese meal, the ninth in our series of Oakland downtown lunches, on Tuesday August 17.
Yimster and Lillian did the ordering before I arrived, so I'm not exactly sure what all the dishes were, and I missed a few. Wisely, they ordered single orders of most dishes. So we had a panoply of foods.
We shared some sweet cold soymilk at the beginning - -it was refreshing.
They ordered the $49.50 "Family dinner for 6-8 persons" on the back of the takeout menu, and added a number of dishes. I'll start with the family dinner.
We started with the cold appetizer plate: seaweed, jellyfish, beef, cabbage (kim chee), pickled cucumber, pork stomach, jellied beef shank (or was it pig ear -- crunchy). The stomach was excellent, in a sweet sauce. The jellied item was a bit spicy, also very good. The cukes were tasty, but the seaweed and jellyfish were interesting only for texture.
The Seaweed Tofu Soup was nourishing and hearty but I only picked at it -- there was much food in store for me. The shrimp were tasty (a number of the dishes had good sweet crunchy shrimp). Lots of tofu and egg white.
The Seafood Iron Platter (sizzling) was tasty. The scallops, shrimp and squid tasted fresh.
The Walnut Prawns came with the mayonnaise dressing, so it was a bit sweet for my taste.
The Mongolian Beef had large but tender pieces of meat, and a bit of hot pepper.
The Shan Dong Chicken with Sauce, and the Rock Cod with Hunan Sauce, were similar dishes. They were each deep-fried chunks, with a sweet, salty, spicy sauce. I liked them both.
That's the end of the Family Dinner.
We had boiled dumplings: Pork, and Pork with Leeks. The one with leeks was tasty but too dry inside; the other was juicier.
We had steamed buns: One was just bun, a spiral twisted version, which was tasty. The other style was filled with a greasy, gummy meat mixture and I did not care for it.
We had noodle dishes; I think these were the hand made noodles. One was a soup, and I did not like it. The noodles were soft, and the broth was nondescript. However the other one, served on a plate, was excellent with good "wok-char" or ("wok-breath").
There were more dishes:
Fish-flavored pork was excellent (there is no fish in this dish, the ingredients are some of the same ones used to flavor fish, hence the name. Slightly spicy, a bit salty.
There was another meat dish, mixed with cabbage, also slightly spicy and tasty.
There was a mixed vegetable dish, don't know which one on the menu. It had bamboo shoots, broccoli, carrots, black mushrooms and was very tasty. The vegetables in all the dishes were exceptionally well cooked, bright and crunchy.
I think that was it but I may have omitted some dishes.
Sliced oranges were a welcome dessert -- but preceding this, Derek brought some treats to celebrate his 28th birthday (which was a few days previous). These were a box of "sesame egg custard balls." Even split up among us, they were quite hefty. They violated every dietary rule, and some dental ones as well. Sweet rice dough, deep-fried and dripping with oil, crunchy, egg yolk custard filling. Yum. If you ate one of these, and then went swimming, you would sink like a stone and leave quite an oil slick.
The restaurant is small, though the mirrored walls made it seem larger (and fortunately allowed me to check my makeup periodically). The clientele was quite diverse and they were doing a good business. They also do a good takeout business. Their dumplings are available frozen, and there was a dumpling-maker hard at work in the front window.
Service was brisk, cheerful, and efficient (considering we were an over-large table against the back wall).
The bill amounted to $12 apiece (including tip). Thanks again to Yimster and Lillian for doing the ordering.
328 Tenth Street, Oakland
The tenth Oakland Lunch will be next Tuesday (August 24) at a Chinese Seafood restaurant. If you're already receiving Evites, you will get the information soon. If you want to be on the list, email me at jtchowhoundAThotmailDOTcom.