It may be surprising that Berkeley doesn’t have a reputable place for Asian Food, especially not Chinese. Sure, you are thinking that Durant’s Asian Ghetto and the North Campus spot on Hearst should suffice. But let’s face it, these restaurants emphasize cheap eats, not quality food. It’s sort of an odd discovery but I am realizing that the highest density of good, “authentic” Chinese food is in El Cerrito, just north of Berkeley. I will go so far as to say that Chinatown in downtown oakland, doesn’t offer a greater variety. Why? Because Oakland chinatown is more of a grocery shopping hub. There are some restaurants but only a few that are even Chinese! And within those there are a whole range of restaurant types, like bbq vs dimsum, vs hongkong dining, etc. So you only get one or two of each. Plus there are Vietnamese and other Asian restaurants taking up prime real estate.
El Cerrito being a hub for Chinese food seems odd but then you consider the condo developments on Pierce Street and the 99 Ranch shopping center in the Pacific East Plaza and it all makes sense. First on the list is a familly favorite, Yummy’s on San Pablo. Whenever my dad comes to town, for some reason we go to Yummy’s. He’s not even a huge fan of Chinese food and he won’t eat it unless it’s top quality. But we go and sit and he talks about how inexpensive and consistent the food is every single time. Next on the list is Chef’s Chinese Restaurant in El Cerrito Plaza. I have had three independent recommendations to try this place out. It’s right next to Trader Joe’s and people rave about this place. Finally, I want to mention Daimo at the Pacific East Plaza on Peirce Street. I have to say that this place is crawling with people every time I pass by. It gets good reviews too but the clincher for me are all the asian folks who eat there. That’s got to be the best sign for determining authenticity.