Bay Area Reviews
San Leandro Restaurants
Note: East Village has closed as such. Prince Dim Sum House has opened in its place.
Update: We've since been to East Village several times for dim sum lunch. We continue finding that we prefer the baked or fried pastries to other dishes, and I'm still in love with their pork buns.
Several people had written to me to recommend East Village, a Chinese restaurant on East 14th Street in San Leandro, but for one reason or another (mostly seldom being in the mood for Chinese food) we hadn't made it there until recently. Today (November 2004), Mike was home for lunch and we decided to finally give it a try.
East Village offers a regular lunch menu (most dishes ~$8) but the big draw here is dim sum, served every day for lunch. The dim sum menu offers a plethora of choices, most of them pork and/or shrimp based, with practically no options for vegetarians, but plenty for meat lovers. I have to confess that this was my first experience with dim sum so my opinions of the different dishes are those of a novice. In addition, I don't usually like steamed dumplings, finding them too mild for that taste - and the ones I had here were no exception. Mike used to have dim sum often for lunch when he worked in San Francisco, but at a top-notch restaurant where both the quality and the prices exceeded those of East Village. Thus, take this review with a big grain of salt.
We ordered six dishes, which proved to be just the right amount for the two of us, though we were pretty hungry to begin with. We started with the Beef Crepe ($3.25) which consisted of three or four large, thick crepes filled with a minced meat paste. The waitress cut them in two with scissors for easier handling. The crepe itself was white and had the taste and consistency of an undercooked flour crepe. Mike didn't like the consistency at all but I didn't mind it. The beef filling was fine, though too mild-flavored for my taste. It didn't taste of much beyond the occasional bite of green onion. The thin soy sauce, with which it was served, helped a bit.
The Baked BBQ Buns ($1.90 for three) were smallish and lightly-glazed with sugar-syrup. They were quite sweet and I thought that they were very good, though Mike says he's had better. I'd definitely order them again, and indeed, if I'd had any more room for food, I would have ordered more.
Mike particularly liked the Deep Fried Pork & Chives Pastry ($2.75 for three). The little bundles looked and tasted baked rather than fried which we thought was a good thing. Once again I found the filling too mild for my taste but he was fine with it.
I'm not crazy for steamed dumplings so it didn't surprise me that I didn't care too much for the Steamed Shanghai Meat Dumplings ($1.75 for four). They reminded us very much of the beef pancakes, though the shells were made of the tougher dumpling dough. They were served with a red sauce that was very vinegary.
The pork dumplings ($1.75 for four) also had shrimp in them - despite the fact that pork & shrimp dumplings were offered separately - so I didn't taste them. Mike thought they were good, but once again not particularly flavorful.
We ended with the paper wrapped chicken ($2.75 for three). We both liked the boneless pieces of chicken, even if we had to work to get them out of the aluminum foil. We'd order them again.
In all, we found it to be a satisfying though not exciting lunch, and not a bad deal for a little over $18 before tip including two sodas. I'd probably go back but order only buns and pastry items.
We didn't go with Michaela so I can't attest to how child friendly the restaurant is, but the owner's children (including a little girl) were around, so I'd feel comfortable taking Mika here. The restaurant looks like your typical suburban Chinese restaurant, clean and light with tables covered in paper tablecloths and bright black metal chairs with aqua-colored seats. The room is large enough and the tables far away enough from each other that a child could move around your table without disturbing others.
East Village Seafood Restaurant
14736 E. 14th Street
San Leandro, CA
M-F 11 am - 2:30 pm, 5-9:30 pm