Update: Prince has changed owners and it’s now King Kong Dim Sum. It’s a shame because we had returned to Prince for Mother’s Day this year, and I had decided to make it my annual Mother’s Day brunch place. The food had been amazing, so good that we returned the following week when my brother visited us. The new place gets mixed reviews on Yelp.
Prince Dim Sum House opened a few months ago, I think, at the space where East Village used to be. The restaurant underwent renovations before it opened as Prince, so I’m not sure if the owner, as well as the look and the name, have changed. The menu is pretty similar, as are the prices. I’d been to East Village several times, and this was my second visit to Prince as such.
Esthetically, they spiffed up the room a little bit, putting new furniture and a wine wall and removing the unattractive handwritten “specials” posters from the walls. Still, the room is square and has a flat ceiling, and there isn’t that much you can do with it to make it attractive. The place is nice enough, but it’s not and does not pretend to be, a “date” or “special occasion” sort of restaurant.
Service leaves something to be desired. We were seated quickly, but it took quite a long time for someone to come to take our orders. As we were waiting we saw the host chatting with people at one table, and one of the waitresses clean up another table, so I don’t think the problem was that they were just busy. Once we ordered the food came to the table quite quickly, which we liked as we were starving. It took a little bit, though not as long, to get our bill. Prince, just East Village before it, has a printed dim sum menu and you chose what you want to eat and then give the completed form to the waitress. They have several dozen items, costing $2-$5.25 depending on the ingredients. In all, lunch here is comparable in price to lunch at most non-sandwich restaurants.
I’m not the best person to review a dim sum place – which is why I’m writing about it on my blog, rather than in one of my more formal (and edited!) restaurant reviews – as I don’t really like most of what appears in dim sum menus. I do love pork buns, however, and that’s what kept bringing me to East Village, and now to Prince.
Prince’s baked BBQ pork buns are very good ($2 for 3). They are small and have a sweet glaze, they also have a nice amount of pork. I fear that they may be too sweet for some people, but they are my favorites in San Leandro. If you go, you should give them a try.
This time we also tried the Baked BBQ Pork Tart ($2.75 for 3). These are longish, thin pastries, also glazed and filled with BBQ pork. The dough is very flaky and Kathy liked it very much. I found them somewhat dry (though not nearly as dry as other versions of this dish) but also very yummy. We ordered a second serving.
I’d never had the Hong Kong Fried Bread Sticks ($2 for 3) before, but I was curious about them. They ended up being very light pieces of fried dough. They were a bit salty, but I thought they’d be delicious dipped in sugar – alas, there was none on the table. They were a bit oily, and kind of boring by themselves, and I wouldn’t order them again.
The fried chicken wings ($5.25 for 4) were plump, juicy and very hot. They were lightly spiced and salted, so you could really appreciate the taste of the chicken, and I liked them quite a bit – but I thought they were too expensive for what they were.
Finally, we had the Layered Egg Custard Cake ($2.75 for 3 small slices). Neither Kathy nor Mika were crazy about it, but I thought it was OK if you like Chinese cakes. I do think Mika would have been happier with a custard bun.
In all it was a good lunch, and I’ll go back to Prince again for those pork buns.
Prince Dim Sum House
14736 E. 14th St.
San Leandro, CA
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