The East Bay is swimming in quality Chinese restaurants, whether you’re looking for hand-pulled noodles or knife-shaved noodles, Cantonese-style roasted duck or Beijing-style Peking duck, dim sum or dessert. Unsurprisingly, there’s a good cluster around Oakland Chinatown, which tends to lean Cantonese. But you’ll also find gems in Alameda, Berkeley, Fremont, and El Cerrito.
Looking for Chinese food in San Francisco? Here you go.Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
1. HK Home Kitchen
It doesn’t offer much in terms of ambience, but this is the probably the best Hong Kong-style cafe (cha chaan teng) food in the East Bay — especially if you have an affinity for Western-inspired dishes like red-sauce baked pork chop spaghetti. Everything seems like it’s priced a few dollars lower than it ought to be, but the best deals on the menu are the giant platters of thin, crispy chow mein, topped with heaps of vegetables, meat, and seafood.
2. New Dumpling
The East Bay has been in need of a high-quality jiaozi, or boiled dumpling, spot, so it’s no surprise that this El Cerrito newcomer has been fairly packed since day one. The cold appetizers like the sliced pig ears are great, and the scallion pancakes are crisp and wonderfully oily. But the only move here is to fill your table with as many of the restaurant’s compact, two-bite dumplings as you might reasonably expect to eat. Fillings are varied and include delightful combinations you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere — zucchini, egg, and shrimp, for example.
3. Sichuan Style Restaurant
With a staff and kitchen crew largely made up of defectors from China Village down the street (and a very similar menu), Sichuan Style has arguably surpassed its more well known neighbor when it comes to classic, tongue-numbingly spicy Sichuan fare like water-boiled fish. Standard orders include the fragrant fish fillet soup, surprisingly mild and soothing despite arriving to the table topped with dozens of chili peppers; the wok-charred cabbage; and the big, puffy round of sesame bread.
4. China Village Restaurant
Arguably the most respected Sichuan restaurant in the East Bay, China Village is a regular on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list for its technical precision, comfortable dining room, and standouts like the five spice pork shoulder and 1,000 chili pepper fish. During crab season, the mapo tofu whole Dungeness crab is a must-order.
5. Wojia Hunan Cuisine
It’s tough to find dishes from the Hunan region in the East Bay, so this Albany newcomer fills that void with Hunan-style toothpick lamb and Chairman Mao stewed pork hock. You’ll also find Sichuan classics and immediate hits like savory fried glutinous rice balls.
6. Chengdu Style Restaurant
The UC Berkeley campus’s best bet for Sichuan food delivers on tongue-numbing sensations, but the menu is so long that it can be easy to miss the strongest dishes. Go with a group and order the classic water-boiled fish, slippery cold jelly noodle appetizer, dumplings in chili oil, and toothpick cumin lamb. It’s for good reason that the dining room is always packed with international students from China.
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7. Great China Restaurant
For big flavors in a sleek, modern setting with an impressive wine list, Great China is an easy choice. The Northern Chinese restaurant also just happens to serve amazing Peking duck with thin pancakes, as well as juicy dumplings and hard-to-find Korean-Chinese specialties like jjajangmyun.
8. Baby Cafe
This kitschy Hong Kong-style cafe offers rice plates, cheesy baked dishes, fried snacks, sandwiches, desserts, and so much more all day every day. Head here for milk tea in the afternoon, accompanied by condensed milk toast or a warm pineapple bun, served with a pat of butter in ice for a satisfying contrast in temperatures and textures. There’s also a new location in the Emeryville Public Market.
9. Tastee Steam Kitchen
Hot pot restaurants are all over the East Bay, but Tastee Steam Kitchen is the only one that offers communal steaming. (Yes, you can order hot pot, too.) Everything gets steamed at your table, and the drippings flavor a big bowl of rice porridge below. The super fresh — and sometimes still-alive — seafood is the main draw here.
10. Gum Kuo
The menu is unreasonably long at this Chinatown classic for Cantonese comfort food, so stick to the best stuff: congee (with doughnuts, of course), rice noodle rolls, roast pork, and roast duck.