Earlier when I blogged about Chef’s Wok in Alameda, I talked about how it probably benefited from the overflow of people trying to get into East Ocean Seafood Restaurant – the often-recommended spot for dim sum on the East Bay.
So I decided I should do a proper review of this popular teahouse, a spacious restaurant at the entrance of Alameda that fills up easily each weekend. I’ve been to East Ocean twice in the last few months (and awhile back for dinner when it spotlights seafood), and most recently with my new friends Debbie and Craig, who were visiting from Sacramento.
The trick to getting a table at East Ocean is to get there early, which is anytime before 11 a.m. Even if you get there later, you can at least be comforted by the fact that East Ocean’s staff runs smoothly, including the front staff who keeps tab of table sizes and numbers without skipping a beat.
That efficiency even translates to the servers pushing the carts, each equipped with headphones so he or she can communicate to the kitchen if a table has a special request. Once I asked for my favorite, pineapple custard buns, before they were ready so the server relayed my request to the kitchen so once they were done, the first plate would arrive at my table. This is the kind of efficiency I rarely see in the cutthroat environment of dim sum dining.
Dim sum literally means “to touch the heart,” because of the delights brought to the eater in the small plates always taken with tea. I find dim sum enjoyable when the food is prepared well and there’s a nice variety of dishes. That’s what Debbie commented about East Ocean, saying she saw a lot of dishes she never saw at dim sum places she’s visited before.
These include a variety of dumplings, filled with an assortment of chives, scallops or shrimp, and desserts ranging from silken tofu to puffy sugar doughnuts. And even in the simplest of dishes, like breakfast jook made with pork and preserved eggs, the taste comes through, comforts and delights.
Debbie and Craig helped out by trying a few deep-fried foods, like the standard spring rolls or hahm suy gok, a kind of sticky savory treat. And of course, my favorite, the pineapple custard bun, had a nice crispy exterior on the top crunch that resembles a pineapple (thus the name) and a creamy custard filling.
In the Bay Area, many of the more popular dim sum tea houses are along the Peninsula, and sadly few places on the East Bay have been able to draw many people from San Francisco to cross the bay for dim sum. But of the places that are convenient for me near my Oakland home, I’m happy that East Ocean has maintained its quality and is, in my eyes, the best option for dim sum on this side of the bay.
Rating: 3 out of 4 camera snaps
East Ocean Seafood Restaurant, 1713 Webster St., Alameda. PH: 510.865.3381. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations for dinner only, major credit cards accepted. eastoceanseafoodrestaurant.com
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