For living in a metropolitan area that is like 20% Asian, I’ve had a hard time finding a dim sum restaurant I like. You see, my standard is Hollywood East in Maryland and their combination of great food, relatively short lines, good service (meaning you get water without asking for it) and ample parking makes for a high standard indeed.
I’ve been a bit Goldilocks about my dim sum and it’s been either too authentic (read: Speaking to me in Cantonese), too chaotic (long wait, crappy parking) or too expensive (looking at you Yank Sing). For once the Chowhound and Yelp boards did nothing to help. One person’s favorite was someone else’s palace of horrors. It was a pleasant surprise when we happened on Hong Kong East Ocean in Emeryville, distinct from East Ocean in Alameda. This fits my criteria to a T. The only downside is the lack of carts BUT the fact that everything comes to your table fresh and hot makes up for that. One thing about not having carts is that you do have to wave your arms a bit to get a second round of dim sum if you want a second round. But other than that, it’s great.
So how does East Ocean measure up?
- Logistics – Being on the spit of land that is the Emeryville marina, there’s ample parking, even if there’s a big event. There’s also a very coherent seating system with a big screen tv to tell you what number you are at.
- Ambiance – this is where HK East Ocean hits it out of the park. Three walls are windows and they all face the Bay with a great view of the Bay Bridge. The room is bright and airy and plenty of space between the tables. A good mix of four tops and big round tables.
- Service – You have to ask for water but it comes quickly. It’s easy to get the servers’ attention. The down side is no carts but they make up for it with a nice picture menu. One challenge is that there are great items NOT on the menu that I saw.
- Food – almost to the level of Hollywood East. Sadly, noone will match Hollywood East’s chicken buns. But great har gow (and variations thereof) and EXCELLENT daikon radish cake. One of the best I’ve ever tasted. The only meh item was the siu mai.