Spring rolls fried to the perfect crunch

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.

Sticky dumplings (left) and shrimp and chives dumplings (right)

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.

The huge dining area of East Ocean holds a lot of tables, but it can still fill up

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

East Ocean Seafood on Urbanspoon

Flat rice noodles filled with char siu

Simple but tasty jook (porridge) with pork and preserved eggs

Diners mull the choices on the rolling carts

More steamed dumplings (left) and perfectly pan-fried daikon cakes (right)

Servers wear headphones to communicate with the kitchen

Puffy sugar doughnuts rolled by near the end of our meal. We had to pass. 🙁

8 Responses to Officially My Favorite East Bay Dim Sum Spot

  1. foodhoe says:

    ooh, that is one of my favorite spots as well. Too bad you don’t like fried stuff, they have the best fried asparagus…

  2. Sandy says:

    Ben those sticky dumplings are my favorite and they look so airy and delicious in your photo! I must try this place 🙂

  3. hungry dog says:

    Sounds like a winner. You’ve really got me craving dim sum…I’m so easily influenced!

  4. Carolyn Jung says:

    Wow, they wear headphones? Now, that’s a dim sum place that’s got its system down pat. Always hate how you spy something on a cart, only to have it all be gone by the time it wheels around to your table. At this place, that would never be a worry.

    • Ben Ben says:

      A good sign is everything is hot, so you know it’s coming straight from the kitchen and not sitting somewhere.

  5. Christy says:

    I am a fan of dim sum myself, and I have my own favorite haunt for dim sum as well:) Besides the food, I am impressed to hear about how systematic they run this place too. Nothing beats an organized restaurant, it just makes the whole dining experience more comfortable 😉